I have not been able to concentrate all day after hearing the news of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris catching fire earlier today. My afternoon in the library, initially intended to get some homework done, was in actuality spent scrolling through countless news articles and French news station Twitter accounts. My heart grew heavier and I got more emotional the longer I watched the live stream news videos, but yet, I couldn’t seem to return back to my to-do list and ignore this tragic and historic event unfolding.
This cathedral has stood tall and strong for almost a thousand years, surviving French Revolutions and World Wars; it has grown beyond just a symbol and place of worship for the Catholic faith; beyond just a home for incredible architecture and art; beyond a symbol for the city of Paris; it is a beacon of hope and pride for the country of France and the millions of tourists, guests and parishoners that visit the beautiful church every year.
Restless and distracted, I blindly walked uptown to 5:15 mass this evening, perhaps looking for a sign in the midst of shock and sadness. Kneeling on the pew, I looked up not only to the crucifix hanging above the altar, but also to the statue on the left. Notre Dame, our Lady. As the Church celebrates Holy Week, Mary is blind to the great loss and sadness of her son, Jesus, who is to be crucified in just a few short days. Like Mary, millions around the world experienced feelings of great sorrow today at the loss of one of the gems of the city of Paris.
After returning home from an evening of meetings, I checked my news app to read the latest updates on the fires. The two front towers of the Cathedral have been salvaged from the flames, and no casualties have been reported. Maybe this is our sign that not all hope is lost.
Both Mary and Notre Dame Cathedral have experienced great anguish this Holy Week. Let us look to our Lady for strength, tenderness, and overall, faith; a greater Resurrection is coming.