Encomium to Evangeline on her Second Birthday!

Names are so wonderful! Letters put together, sounds uttered by vocal chords, and yet, these words have the power to express a particular person, a unique image of God!

What an amazing thing that God lets us name our children. What a sacred privilege and a solemn duty we parents have to bestow upon our children that which symbolizes their very selves, before they are ever aware of themselves.

In a certain way, a name predestines a child because it is saturated with meaning. When thinking about names, we choose names that have been used before to express persons we admire – saints, heroes, ancestors. The names we choose already mean something to us and we pass on this meaning to our children through the bestowal of their name.

On this day two years ago, you came flying into this world full of spirited eagerness. There wasn’t time for you to prepare for what was coming next, but you entered into life to the full. We named you, our firstborn daughter, Evangeline Marie. What a powerful heritage is in that name!

The Annunciation | Paolo de Matteis | Public Domain

Certainly, perhaps at the highest level, we gave you this name because of its Latin roots, Evangelium Mariae, meaning Good News to Mary. We want your patroness to be Our Lady of the Annunciation, and we pray that you may always be close to her!

We were also inspired by the story of your Acadian ancestors, illustrated in Longfellow’s poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie. We want you to recall the sorrowful story of your ancestors. And we hope you will live a life full of the same faith, hope and deeply moving love that the heroine Evangeline portrays in this poem.

We’d be lying if we didn’t also admit that your name has many namesake songs that we enjoy. From The Band to Turnpike Troubadours to Sammy Kershaw, as well as several other lyric song artists of our day, there are tunes about Evangeline that you will grow up hearing and singing. And we know that, like these Evangelines, you will be a beloved for many during your lifetime.

In all of these ways, dear child, we have given you an inherited identity, a sort of predestination. And yet, you will continue to discover your identity as you grow and add meaning to your name, as you learn about and become yourself, a unique image of God who is still a mystery to us.

On this second anniversary since your birth, I marvel at the Evangeline I have come to know.

You are indeed “Good News” to this world! A Cajun-Irish-German child, stubborn and strong and independent, sweet and joyful and helpful. I love your wavy, whispy blond hair and your bright, beautiful hazel eyes. I love your energy, your laughter, your cuddliness. I love the way you talk about things and try to count to 8, 9, 10, and read from your picture books. I love the way you try to help me clean up messes around the house and get a new diaper for Irene, and feed a bottle to your baby doll. I love how much you love to eat rice and gravy and mac and cheese. I love how you wear your heart on your sleeve and live life to the full!

Happy 2nd Birthday, Evangeline Marie! May God bless you and keep you and bring you to the fulfillment of your name! I love you!

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