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Debris surrounds a depiction of the Pieta by Nicolas Coustou in Notre Dame Cathedral April 16, 2019, a day after a fire destroyed much of the church's wooden structure. Officials were investigating the cause of the blaze, but suspected it was linked to renovation work that started in January.

Take example from the Cross of Notre Dame

The cathedral’s cross survived the devastating fire, an inspiring symbol of determined Faith, by Fr Michael Kane

The Church lives by seasons. The transition from Lenten penance to Easter joy is explosive and full of energy and vitality.

It is the liturgy of the Solemn Easter Vigil which encapsulates this drama more than any other.

It’s my favourite liturgy of the year, and one which impresses deeply upon me the essential struggle between light and darkness in our broken world.

Last Saturday the Church emerged from the shadows of the tomb, symbolised in the flame of the new Pascal light.

 

Salvation

The dark sleepy, mourning Church awakes on Easter Day, dazzled by the radiance of salvation!

In some ways our journey towards Easter was even more dramatic than other years.

The struggle between light and dark found concrete expression in a global news story which caught the world’s attention: the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

This provided an unwelcome and disconcerting prelude to the sombre days around Good Friday.

In the midst of the Lord’s Passion this great cathedral, a symbol of the French nation, was engulfed in flames.

 

History

This great gothic structure witnessed over 850 years of history, including a Reformation, wars and revolutions. Yet it looked destined to be burnt to the ground inside a few hours.

Some of the commentators and secular journalists that I read in the days afterwards saw the blaze more as a symbol of the Church today; signalling that the old regime of Faith was crumbling in Europe.

It was, for them, the story of a Church bruised and battered and literally burning to the ground, the result of scandals and a more enlightened generation.

It seemed the old regime of Faith was quite literally going up in smoke.

 

Good news

Of course, the world welcomed news that the iconic Notre Dame would be saved.

Despite the intense heat of the fire its walls and its great towers remained solid. Our Lady of Paris remained standing in all her glory!

This miracle, too, was penned by journalists as a great symbol of unshakable Faith, and the immortal soul of France.

Soon, images emerged from the charred interior. There were striking images which showed the heroic fire brigade chaplain blessing the cathedral with the Eucharist which he had earlier rescued.

 

Saved relics

He also saved its most famous relic, the crown of thorns, which is kept secure in Notre Dame.

What an extraordinary synchrony that the whole world was captivated by the Lord’s crown of thorns during his Passion in Holy Week.

Another photo which was widely shared showed the glowing Cross at the high altar, as if rising from the ashes, as a symbol of determined Faith, a symbol of the triumph of the Cross.

Is this not the whole message of Easter?

Amazingly, the experience of tragedy and darkness has given way to a new Catholic fervour in some corners of France.

 

Heritage

The image of a burning church seemed to have stirred the soul of a seemingly post-Christian, secular France. Perhaps it will even rekindle some deeper affection for its Christian heritage.

Perhaps it has already begun. In the narrow streets around Notre Dame and on the banks of the River Seine crowds of people knelt down to say the Rosary and sing hymns, imploring the intercession of Our Lady. The fire seems to have sparked something deeper in Paris.

Closer to home we, too, see the sparks of light and the kindling of Faith.

Amid a narrative of decline in our churches, we welcomed five new adult members to our church.

 

New Catholics

Two others will soon follow, including a young man from our local high school who has been receiving instruction for the Sacraments.

They joined thousands of others around the world who were Baptised and confirmed at Easter.

They have chosen to embark on a journey which is deeply counter-cultural: to follow Jesus of Nazareth and declare Him as their Lord and Saviour.

They have ignored the contemporary wisdom, and promised to accept, embrace and live-by the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic faith.

The season of Easter is a time to thank God for the light of Faith which shines in the darkness of this world.

It is a time to thank Him for calling us to be His disciples, to shine with Faith in our homes, communities and workplaces.

May we always stand, like the shining Cross of Notre Dame, peering out of the ashes of our world.

 

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