The almost total destruction of Notre Dame in Paris saddens the hearts of people throughout the World. The destructive fire reminds us of how precious important, cultural, and sacred sites are to the well-being of humankind. This tragic event reminds us of the importance of history to the on-going development of human cultures and civilization. While the bells of the great Cathedral are now silent, the sound they signify tolls loudly in our hearts.
France is known as a “secular” society. Yet, as the fire raged, thousands of Parisians gathered in the streets around the Cathedral to pray, sing, weep, and hope. As they cheered on the firefighters, the World’s heart was touched as we longed to hope a treasure could be saved and preserved.
Within hours, the President of France announced a plan to rebuild the nearly destroyed eight-hundred-year-old Cathedral where Joan of Arc was beatified. He recognized Notre Dame as sacred to the World. The World is responding with enormous sums of funding, care, love and support.
I cannot help but think that the fires burning from the heart of Notre Dame symbolized the Cathedral giving of itself as a plea to the peoples of the World to put out the fires of hate, division, fear, and prejudice. As the fires raged the World rediscovered its heart.
Up out of the ashes, the ancient Church will rise again as a reminder of past treasures and a longing for future hope. Notre Dame will rise again as a symbol of the World’s longing for solidarity, peace, and mutual love. As the pride of France rises anew, the hope of the World is reborn. If there ever was an Interfaith moment, it is now. May the reborn Cathedral be a sacred sign of the goodwill and compassion of all people made new. As the Prayer for the Dedication of a Church prays “here may the victims of oppression find true freedom.” May we be liberated from every type of malice as the Cathedral is rebuilt. As we celebrate the Easter Season, we express our faith and hope that a new age is dawning when all people will live in peace and harmony.
Let the words French President Emmanuel Macron ring true in our lives:
|“I believe profoundly that we will turn this tragedy into a moment to come together, to be reflective of what we were and what we have to be. We must be better than we were.”|
May the Cathedral of Our Lady hold us in the beauty and blessedness of her arms once again. A Blessed Easter and Passover to all of you.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P. with the
Board of Directors
The Interfaith Peace Project