This image reminds me of when I was staring at the TV, watching the towers. Not for the reasons you think, but maybe there are similarities.
To begin, I don’t know how the fire physically started at this beautiful cathedral, and that isn’t what I am talking about.
Secondly, I love Gothic architecture. When I was a wee lad, my family had a book called Cathedral, which detailed the construction of Chartres cathedral, and I loved it ever since. The lofty heights, the flying buttresses, and the craftsmanship that went into the effort. It wasn’t just for the fame or a promise of heaven but a central heart of a town. And the town and surrounding areas got together to build something for everyone.
Little known fact, cities in Europe used to have their own bishops. There were a lot more back then, which opened the door to a lot of corruption, but also a lot of holiness. Bishops weren’t moved around as much as now, and the benefit of only having one city was that the bishops could shepherd, not administrate. The cathedral was the spiritual heart of an area, and it was made to resemble that.
Jesus admonished Judas when he pointed out that the woman who washed Jesus feet with expensive oil could have sold the oil and given it to the poor. A criticism often leveled at the Catholic Church with its gold and marble etc. John 12:3-8
3 Mary then took a [a]pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to [b]betray Him, *said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for [c]three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. 7 Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep [d]it for the day of My burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”
Emphasis mine. What does this mean? Well, it’s pretty obvious to me that it means give honor to God. What does that mean? Hoo buddy, Reader-land, you asked for it.
It means that the best should be shown to God, not the scraps. It means the sacred vessels used to hold the Eucharist aren’t brass or glass or wood, but silver and gold. Why do we give so much importance to the crown jewels of a king, just a man, then want to sing kumbaya and use wood to honor the King of kings? Who, if we actually listen to what we say we believe, has seated Himself on His throne, revealed Himself as King over all, even death? The glory of the living God, and we treat the queen of England’s crown with more respect.
But you know who “got” it? Those much maligned people in the so called dark ages. They got together and built things that are incomparable to palaces, make Versailles blush with shame at her ugliness, and gave all their effort and skill to build something to glorify God.
They built Notre Dame. And countless other cathedrals that do the same.
I know who started the spiritual fire, of which this tragedy is a physical representation.
This attack was from the inside, just like Judas. Compare and contrast the ugly churches we now are in, worldwide. Even in Lourdes, they have ugly churches. Compare the care put into building something that didn’t collapse after a massive fire to the parishes that can’t get the roof to stop leaking. When was the last time your bishop and the army of bureaucrats in the chancellory built a beautiful building to be a center of diocesan worship? I don’t find St Thomas More in Arlington to be so. What about those parishes that have plans for a beautiful church, but keep getting turned down to build, because the money should go somewhere else?
The bishops being administrators instead of shepherds and the focus off the worship of God in favor of focusing on charitable works. Good things? Sure, but not the better part. Worship of God first, and those things follow.
Yes, the men who lost their way are Judas. Some of them aren’t bad, and are well intentioned, which ironically could have been Judas. Some of them are evil and abuse power and people to get their way, which might be power, money, sex, or to destroy the church. The ones who are ignorant, I won’t say.
The fire at Notre Dame is a physical representation of what these people have done to the Catholic Church. They have attacked it, from within, and burned away the roof and spires. They have seemed to raise the poor to a higher position than God, not remembering that the poor gathered together to build a fitting house of beauty FOR God. And the very structure which survived the fire is heavily damaged but the foundation and structure that survived is the real Faith, founded by Jesus and built on worshipping God in His rightful place.
Just like 9/11, this is a wake-up call to the Catholic Church. Things as we knew them or thought them to be, that is gone. Every day is 9/12. You either have to shoulder the burden and work for reform or give it up and slip into obliviousness. Red pill or Blue pill?
I spent 24 straight hours watching the coverage that day and the next. I didn’t sleep. Everything was changed. This was the same feeling I had yesterday, but I knew it different, that the disobedience of the 20th century and before had led to this visual representation. For every disobedient bishop, he didn’t become that overnight. For every disobedient layperson, the same. At some point they, WE, put something in that place that belongs to the worship of God.