Monday, December 27, 2010
I've been saving this picture, taken at the Acadian Village in northern Maine, for the holiday season. The rock announces the entrance to a replica log chapel from the 18th century.
The St. John River valley is largely Catholic and one side of the river (Canada) is barely distinguisable from the other (US). The early settlers had their log churches; as the area grew more prosperous, each town built a proper cathedral. In most Catholic churches Mary is as prominent as Jesus, and that emphasis on the human seems most appropriate here in the County, in a place of gentle unpretentiousness.
Not being Catholic, I had to look up what the Assumption was all about. The key point seems to be that Mary, upon her death, was transported to heaven not only in soul but in body as well. No wonder she's venerated! She's up there in the flesh. Heaven wouldn't be nearly so boring if you could eat and sail and sweat and hike and kiss and feel an ocean breeze on your skin. (It would be like Maine.)
This brings me to Joseph. No veneration there! Indeed, he's pretty much forgotten, just a figurehead, a breadwinner, someone to have around to prevent gossip, an excuse, a means to respectability. No rosary bead hails him. He's no Father, just a Dad. No wonder we men spend Christmas watching basketball, playing with our new electronic devices, and drinking somewhat to excess. We're trying to glorify our bodies.
Not all is pious worship in Aroostook County. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see in the background, to the left of the plastic flowers, a little toy truck. Someone has editorialized on the fate of Joseph. Behind every great lady stands her Jeep.