Commentary: Holy Week and the Notre Dame fire
FREE Catholic Classes
Seeing Notre Dame de Paris burning and threatening to collapse was a shock that left everyone voiceless '" including President Emmanuel Macron, who canceled a speech dealing with the social unrest in France over the past few months.
Paris, France, (CNA) - The cathedral towering above the island on the Seine that was the cradle of the city is more than a venerable medieval building, more than an exceptionally beautiful architectural masterpiece. It has been for centuries the heart not only of Paris, but of the whole nation, the place where even atheistic presidents and ministers came to pray because they could not think of anything else to do when France was victorious (in 1918), defeated (in 1940) or liberated (in 1944). It was desecrated during the French Revolution and turned into a temple of the goddess Reason, but Napoleon realized he had to give it back to the Church and be crowned there if he was actually to become an Emperor.
It is also a vibrant reminder of the faith of our ancestors, which shaped the monument and inspired every detail as a facet of God's revelation and gifts as well as the overall design. It was meant and has survived as a representation of the celestial abode that everyone openly hopes for or secretly dreams of. That something so ancient should defy time and remain so mysteriously meaningful is perceived as a miracle that no science can either deny or explain. This is why even non-believers feel affected. The Paris cathedral is the symbol not just of the Catholic faith, but of the fact that all humans have souls.
Rather strangely, non-Catholics lament more noisily than Catholics. They fear the damage is irreversible. Can it be repaired? How much will it cost? Can it be afforded? A fund has already been started to raise the money that is needed. But will this be enough to restore everything as it was? Is it possible to rebuild the roofďż˝ s oak framework that had resisted the elements since the 13th century? Will Notre Dame ever be the same again?
The faithful are less pessimistic, though they quite reasonably could be. The late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger had centered the Paris Archdioceseďż˝ s life in and around the cathedral and refashioned the interior with an elegant modern altar in the middle. The loss of all this might seem to be the last blow after all the sex abuse scandals that have hit the Church recently, and all the sociological studies highlighting the plummeting numbers of baptisms, ordinations and religious vocations, or revealing that the younger generations are simply unsure what Christians commemorate at Easter or what a parish is exactly.
On top of it all, this happens just at the beginning of Holy Week, the most sacred time of year for Christians: Where will the Archbishop gather his priests for Chrism Mass? And finally, why did God allow this?
Notre Dame on fire and perhaps unusable for months if not years is undoubtedly a trial. But faith does not allow to see this as a punishment or the confirmation of a decline and fall. There is some comfort to be found in the massive sense of affliction and solidarity of non-believers, since it proves that for them, however irreligious they are, the visible Church is not a mere remnant of the past, but a vital part of the scenery, without which they themselves miss something. Yet, in the end, this support does not make that much of a difference.
What is decisive is the knowledge that Jesus Christ the Groom will never abandon his bride the Church '" which does not mean that her faithfulness will never be tested. The Temple on Mount Zion was destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again. St. Peter's in Rome was plundered several times. The crusaders lost Jerusalem. What ultimately matters is not the signifier (the cathedral), but the signified (God's glory) which remains forever fertile and will forever inspire those who long for it.
A note from Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap:
M. Jean Duchesne cofounded the French edition of the Communio international theological journal and served as special assistant to the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Paris for more than 25 years. The author of numerous books and articles on the faith, active in Jewish-Catholic dialogues, and a consultant to Lustiger's successors, he has been a friend to the Church in the United States for decades. He and his family live in Paris. I'm grateful for his willingness to offer his thoughts below on the Paris Holy Week fire.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Notre Dame de Paris is a symbol of faith that belongs to Catholics around the world. Many of our parishes will be conducting a Second Collection on Easter Sunday to help repair and rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral. Please be as generous as your means allow.
Please pray for the Catholic community in France, and may God bless all of us with a holy Triduum and joyful Easter.
+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.Archbishop of Philadelphia
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary. That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.
Pope Francis celebrated the feast of his patron St. George '" Jorge in Spanish '" by giving away rosaries to 6,000 young people from Milan, ... continue reading
The United Kingdom has once again delayed the launch of its constraints on virtual porn. The online age verification program is now ... continue reading
Pope Francis said Monday that the resurrection of Christ is the most shocking event in human history. Vatican City, (CNA) - "What was ... continue reading
Easter is not a time for political debate, but is rather an opportunity to encounter the pinnacle of the faith '" Christ's death and ... continue reading
In his Easter Vigil homily, Pope Francis said that the Risen Christ desires to "roll back the stone" that blocks the entrance to one's ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Appeals court: House not required to accept 'secular prayer' at start ...
- Pope Francis gifts 6,000 rosaries, asks for prayers on name day
- Daily Reading for Thursday, April 25th, 2019 HD Video
- Daily Readings for Wednesday, April 24, 2019
- St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, April 24, ...
- Prayer Requests Live for Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019 HD Video
- National Catholic Prayer Breakfast hears call for 'Catholic great ...
- Prayer Requests Live for Monday, April 22nd, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, April 24th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Monday, April 22nd, 2019 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.