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Travel. Culture. And Croissants.
Travel. Culture. And Croissants.

By Hunter Major '17

Bread is the hallmark image of food. Upon Google searching "food," the first image that pops up depicts a varied assortment of doughnuts, cookies and hamburgers. Upon Google searching the food pyramid, bread is the base, the touchstone foundation of humanity's universal diet. Discovered by hunter gatherers some 30,000 years ago and formally domesticated as wheat and barley approximately 10,000 years ago, it is a culinary staple that has permeated cultures and sustained people throughout the test of time. Bread is the quintessential depiction of nourishment, even in its scarcest quantities.

Sorry boys, but bread was my first love. A romance for the ages: love is patient, love is kind, love is one croissant at a time. Though we have received my parents' blessing, dichotomous is our relationship, my dear bread; one day, thou art my Prince Charming of my delectable desires, another day my Prince Kryptonite of my doomed diet. Bread has always served as the rising catalyst of unification amongst those who mean the most to me.

In school, I learn about the world; in the summer, the world is mine to live in. During the school year, class to class, assignment to assignment, I justify eating bread as the panacea to the subtle grumblings from my stomach. During the summer, city to city, conference to conference, eating bread, to me, is representative of a dualistic affirmation of sorts, a nod to the culture I am experiencing. This past summer, I participated in the inaugural Faces of the Heart, an international Sacred Heart youth program in France where students from Sacred Heart schools around the world gather to deepen their knowledge of Sacred Heart heritage and engage in various cultural and service activities.

"This summer will surely have a distinct je ne sais quoi," I said to my dad prior to my departure, unpretentiously testing out the vernacular of my intended destination. Grocery shopping for a family dinner, I additionally quipped, "When I'm in France, I'll get real baguettes and real croissants."

Upon arriving in the Charles de Gaulle airport after a long day of travel, Sacred Heart students and teachers, hailing from places among the likes of San Francisco, Italy, Chicago, Columbia, Houston, Germany, Miami, Japan, Detroit, France, New Jersey, Mexico, and I from New Orleans, sat down to eat baguette sandwiches. Thus was the commencement of Faces of the Heart, as we were all united and "full" in our commitment to build a community, much like those in our respective homes, as a Christian value.

At Faces of the Heart, our days were long, but our nights were even longer. I found myself staying up past midnight conversing with my new-found friends about how we couldn't wait for what another tomorrow could bring, especially the overflowing baskets of the illustrious carbohydrate that would be available for our joyous consumption in a few hours. Bread was always there for us. When visiting a safe haven for Middle Eastern refugees in Nantes, there was bread on the table. Another day, we traveled to a market where none of the food was pre-packaged; thus, out there in the open for humans, bugs, bacteria and the like but nonetheless out there as an open and willing source of nourishment to those who inhabit this great world. Walking through the streets of Paris, I found myself wooed by the quaint boulangeries effaced with crown molding, the intricacy of the basket weaving encasing the bread and the entrancingly calligraphic font of the small signs that read "Croissant: 5 Euro." In Joigny, we lodged at St. Madeleine Sophie Barat's house. The second night of our stay, my roommates and I were snacking on miniature gaufres, when reports of the terror attack in Nice flooded our phones. Having spent the afternoon on a wheat field and vineyard overlooking Sophie's village earlier that day, we went into Sophie's old bedroom across the hall to pray for the rest of the night, silently echoing the sentiments of Miguel de Cervantes, "all sorrows are less with bread."

The etymology of the word "baguette," a titular nomenclature that the French did not ascribe to their signature loaf until the 1920s, stems from the Latin baculum, meaning, staff or stick, indicative of power. As people of faith, we willfully open ourselves to receive God's powerful guidance. We come together to break bread in honor of Jesus Christ, for he truly is our "one bread, one body, one Lord of all." In the Our Father, we ask God to "give us this day, our daily bread." We rely on God with a humble dependence as God is the baker and producer of our days. This day and each and every day is our daily bread, in which God unwaveringly gives Himself unto us. Each day is another slice of life, an opportunity for us to dwell amongst the rest of His blessed Creation.

Sacred Heart, a name ubiquitously emblazoned on our shirts and on our buildings is truly a dynamic name to behold. The epitome of a Sacred Heart education is the symbiotic coalescence of the mind and the heart. A child of the Sacred Heart is as wholesome as whole wheat. Our hearts humanize our minds, and our minds thereafter are cognizant of the pure sacredness of our hearts.

Our Sacred Hearts dwell within the benevolent Sacred Heart of Jesus, who is our Bread of Life. Each day He strengthens us, enabling us to take on the journeys we have set before ourselves. This holy bread instilled in St. Madeleine Sophie Barat the steadfast wisdom to found the Society of the Sacred Heart. This bread sustained St. Rose Philippine Duchesne throughout the course of her journey to the New World as she established the first Sacred Heart school in America. This bread ignited the flames of her ethereal spirit, making her Quahkahkanumad, the "Woman who Prays Always." This bread rejuvenated the artistic imagination within Pauline Perdrau, allowing her to paint Mater Admirabilis. God provides bread as an extension of Himself to nourish us physically and spiritually.

Marcel Proust, storied French novelist once said, "Mystery is not about traveling to new places but about looking with new eyes." In a foreign place, I was comforted and enlightened by a common food. In France, God bestowed upon me fourteen days as my daily bread to serve as a modern-day face of Sacred Heart schools worldwide, a blessing in which I wholeheartedly partook, as part of the everlasting fulfillment of the partakings of those before me, "for the sake of one child."

- The Bridge, Winter 2017