Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. – 1 Peter 3:15
Thank you, Letitia, for reminding us to embrace the joy which surrounds us!
Recently, Father Patrick Broussard, Associate Pastor of Our Lady of Wisdom, was at a ULL football game and a random person made a Vine of him doing a celebratory dance in the stands. It was not planned by him, in fact, he does not know who made the short video. While I was quite impressed with his dance moves, I was really impressed with his blog post about his new found fame. In paraphrasing Father Broussard, he said that he was just enjoying himself at the game with the students. He said his love of God and doing God’s will brings him great joy. I guess people were so intrigued by him simply because he is a priest and to most of the secular world the thought of a priest being happy is just not possible. Now, Father Broussard is not the only happy priest. I know many of the priests of our Diocese and they are just as happy as Father Broussard. This whole little joyful act did make me think, where do we find joy?
I began to think about my childhood and whether or not it was joyful. One thought led to another and my thoughts landed on family traditions we had as children and how joyful they were. I grew up with my two brothers and one sister and of course, my mom and dad. We lived in walking distance to my grandmother’s house. I remember as a child walking back and forth to her house. She was always so happy to see us, even if it was the third or fourth time that day. Every Sunday, she would cook lunch and we would gather house together with all our aunts, uncles, cousins, and anyone with whom she would have invited over for lunch that day. We looked forward to being with our extended family. We did this every holiday as well. We would celebrate Christmas Eve together at her house, everyone would exchange gifts. We loved the laughter, the food and the family gathering, the Joie de Vivre, of the Cajun culture. We had our traditions of putting dimes in the cabbage for New Year’s Eve to bring us good luck for the rest of the year. For Easter, we dyed the eggs at our house and my mom would make Easter baskets for each of us. Then, of course, we would be off to pacque eggs with all our cousins, aunts, uncles and anyone else at the family gathering. Like Christmas, my mom would make sure we had a new Easter dress or in the case of my brothers, suits. The list of traditions goes on for each holiday. This also brought another question to mind, where do the traditions come from?
My grandmother or as we called her, Maw Maw Leger, was a devout Catholic. I remember her rosary hanging on her bed post and her bottles of holy water. She never missed Mass and would bring us with her. As the Leger family matriarch, I suppose she was the one who held her own grown children and her grandchildren to their faith. We were very involved with our little church, St. Michael’s in Egan, Louisiana. My dad was part of the Knights of Columbus and my mom would help with the Ladies Altar Society. We would run around the church with our friends and relatives during the bingos and the annual church fairs. These were all such happy and joyful times. I realized, our love of family and tradition were grounded in her deep Catholic faith and these were not just her traditions but most likely they had been passed down to her just as the traditions of her faith had been passed down to her.
Sadly, my grandmother passed away suddenly from a brain aneurism when I was fifteen. I was so heartbroken. I still wish that I had had more time to learn more from her. I am sure she could have taught me so many more things about her family, her love of gardening, and her life of faith. As traditions can only be realized if they are passed on, thankfully, all that my grandmother left to us was taken up by my mother. She was able to take traditions from her family as well as my dad’s family and continue the family traditions that my grandmothers had so lovingly passed down to their children. We have since changed some of the details of our traditions and the way we celebrate our holidays but we still gather as family. My children love being with their cousins and aunts and uncles. We hear the joy and laughter at the simple family traditions. They are formed with family by simply enjoying the gift of family.
I remember hearing once from someone who was inquiring about becoming a catholic, that what was most impressive about the people who called themselves catholic was their deep love and devotion to family. I remember thinking back then that that was a strange observance. Looking back on it now that I have six children, I embrace this observance as one that brings hope and of course joy. We are building our family traditions, loving our family, spending time with our friends, holding tightly to our faith and most importantly seeking to do God’s will in our everyday lives so we too, will be “caught” joyfully dancing. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pray for Us!
Your Sister In Christ,
Letitia M. Peyton
Let us pray.
Praise God for the gifts of joy, laughter, and family! Lord, as we approach this holiday season may we be mindful of Your presence as the ultimate source of our joy. AMEN.