St. Joseph’s Altar: The Lenten Feast?

Every year in my school, the classes would take a bus to a nearby banquet hall in our town of Opelousas, where we’d be able to eat some of the great food prepared for the St. Joseph’s Altar, a practice especially popular in Catholic southern Louisiana. That “altar” was really just a few tables adorned with flowers, breads, desserts, and meatless meals to commemorate the Solemnity of St. Joseph.Since the Solemnity falls during Lent most years and is not technically a Feast Day, the rules of th … [Read more...]

Introducing Brian Jocks, Sick Pilgrim’s Illustrator

Louisiana artist Brian Jocks will be contributing original illustrations to the Dark Devotional, Sick Pilgrim's weekly meditations on the Mass readings.Sick Pilgrim ("a decidedly dark and offbeat, yet stubbornly hopeful blog founded by misfit Catholic writers") is meant to be a platform for artists. As a blog, most of the artists we've gathered are writers, and we’ve been excited to feature so many (with more than 60 guest posts in our first year online), each with a unique voi … [Read more...]

La Toussaint: How Cajuns Care for Cities of the Dead October we clean graves.  We gather in the early morning or late afternoon (because it’s still hot in south Louisiana) with our scrubbers and soapy water, rakes and trimmers, a picnic basket and maybe some beer.  We go to the cemetery to clean the graves of our ancestors and to offer some prayers for them or to them, the distinction never mattered much.  This tradition has been handed down through the generations, finding its roots in our Cath … [Read more...]

Being Catholic, Being Cajun: Catholic Identity and its Discontents

The calamity in my neck of the woods, Southern Louisiana, is pervasive. My entire community has been affected, and so have I. The heart-breaking destruction, alongside the strength of character drawn out by the recent floods, has left me reeling.In times like this, I find myself questioning the fundamentals of my identity. If I call myself a Catholic, what do I mean? And why does being Cajun matter?The truth is, I've never felt like an insider, even within these two huge pillars of my i … [Read more...]

South Louisiana’s Great Flood of 2016

The Flood of the Century. The Great Flood. A Flood of Biblical Proportions. The Hundred Year Flood.Whatever you want to call it, South-central and Southeastern Louisiana has been battered by torrential rain this past weekend, leaving unbelievably huge pieces of roads and entire neighborhoods underwater, leaving thousands rescued and at least three killed.The chaos brought by this massive flooding is devastating. Even though my family and I suffered no damage, witnessing my neighbors … [Read more...]