My heart is broken. Today, we lost one of the most beautiful churches in the world. For 800 years in stood as a transcendent reminder of God’s presence among men. Built to house priceless works of art, holy relics, and above all the sacraments, it was made by a world that no longer exists, the world of Christendom in which the holy mysteries of faith permeated everything.
As I watched the images of one of the great landmarks of Christian Europe burning to the ground, I could not help but see a tragic metaphor for the Western church today. We are heirs to so much beauty, so much truth, so much faith. And what have we done? We have squandered it, rejected it, and collectively shaken our fist in God’s face, through bloody revolution and even more subtly through apathy. Rather than setting our eyes on heaven, like the great gothic arches and rose windows invited us to do, we attempted to drag God down to us, to make him in our own image. We wanted him to accomodate our whims, our appetites, our sins. Plagued by horrific abuses, worldliness, and compromises, the church in the West, despite our veneer of respectability, is very much on fire. We have left our first love (Rev. 2:4), and we are reaping the tragic consequences.
If we learn anything from this great tragedy (and we must), it is that we must return to God. We must repent of our lukewarmness, and, just as the cathedral was the center of every medieval village, we must again make Christ the King the center of our lives. Let us weep for the loss of this magnificent church, but let even more weep for our sins, and turning to the Lord in the beauty of repentance, build a cathedral for him in our hearts.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
PS: I would encourage everyone to read this book, which explains in detail how France went from the eldest daughter of the Church to the secular state it is today. I pray God uses this tragedy to awaken the hearts of the French people.