Failure and Victory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Wreckage of Notre Dame

The Anchoress | 4/19/2019 | Elizabeth Scalia
blacky (Posted by) Level 3
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I write this just days after watching Paris’ Cathedral of Notre Dame become engulfed by flames and fearing that the most famous and treasured place of worship in all of Christendom after St. Peter’s Basilica would be reduced to stone and ash at the start of Holy Week.

Thankfully, the Cathedral is not wholly lost, but as it burned, it truly did seem like familiar parables and lessons were playing out before our eyes:

Blink - Eye…

“In the blink of an eye…”

“Store up your treasures in heaven…”

Rock - Church - Gates - ****

“Upon this rock, I shall build my Church, that the gates of **** shall not prevail…”

The falling spire of Notre Dame felt almost portentous. My friend Tom McDonald wrote, “The thing about a fire in the sky: it makes you look up.” His words tapped memories of Marian prophecies warning of sky events “seen throughout the world,” – something that seemed impossible 100 years ago but is now reality. Yes, look up, look up, and see the signs and symbols that always accompany an awakened awareness of the unending battle between dark and light, between good and evil, between what is above us, inviting us to rise, and what is below us, and would drag us to its depths.

Fire - Spread - Lord - Notre - Dame

As the fire spread, many of us prayerfully asked, Lord, why Notre Dame; why at the start of Holy Week? Why would God permit it? What are we supposed to take away from this great horror — a portion of our past burning away in the face of such an uncertain future — besides spiritual sorrow and endless debris?

It feels a bit like a shared penance — the universal church suffering the loss of one of its universally-admired structures, in reparation for her many soul-shattering sins. An absolute beauty taken from an institutional body of faith that had brought too...
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