Message from the Pastor
April 21 & 28, 2019 Issue
Some, like best-selling novelist Ken Follett, call them “pillars of the earth.” Commonly, they are called cathedrals. As I watched the fire raging through Notre-Dame de Paris, it seemed like one of the most beautiful “pillars of the earth” was going to be utterly destroyed. Fortunately, through the valiant efforts of more than 500 French firefighters, the iconic façade and much of the church were preserved. The cornerstone was laid in 1163, and the cathedral’s enormous and intricate structure have for centuries been held up by the innovative and sturdy “flying buttresses” that enable its immense windows, most especially its colorful rose windows, to drape Notre-Dame’s “rib vault.” Thankfully, they will remain for future generations to gaze and wonder at the sense of transcendence they evoke.
Having being inspired by Notre-Dame’s beauty, inside and out, on each of the three occasions I have visited Paris, I feel as if a close personal friend has been crippled and will require years of rehabilitation before ever being able to walk again. Coming as it did during the beginning of Holy Week, the blaze which for several hours engulfed the cathedral, offers a new meaning to the suffering and death of Notre Dame’s (Our Lady’s) Son. Was He not crucified on another “pillar of the earth?” Indeed, I find in the charred cathedral potential symbolic meanings. For instance, the call of Christ, “to rebuild my church” heard by St. Francis and again by Pope Francis has now both literal and metaphorical meanings. Already French leaders and philanthropists pledge to begin such rebuilding. And, as was the case of many cathedrals, it will take decades, if not centuries, before the repairs are completed. I find comforting the cogent the words of French President Emmanuel Macron, “We will build together.”
Similarly, the rebuilding of trust in some of the structures and systems of the Catholic Church, scorched by scandals, will require the efforts of many of us working together. And it may take a long time to rebuild. But, rebuild we must, and so I will find encouraging the efforts to rebuild the pillar of France’s faith for it may enkindle a new appreciation for what Notre-Dame really represents.
During this Easter Season, when we commemorate how a wooden cross became a pillar of the Catholic Church, the determination to work together to rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral may serve as a source of hope to rebuild the pillars of the Catholic Church. With the arrival of Archbishop Wilton Gregory next month, we as a parish in a scandal-scorched archdiocese will be given these opportunities. As the rebuilding of Notre-Dame begins, may we find the determination to work together so that our church’s structures are rebuilt; and that through our common belief in the glorified pillar on which Notre Dame’s Son once was crucified, will enkindle new flames of faith.