The Washington Post reported this:
“A procession of clergy dressed in white carried a simple black cross through the streets of Île St. Louis on Friday, continuing a Good Friday ritual even while the charred hulk of Notre Dame Cathedral loomed behind them. Thousands of Parisians and visitors gathered for the “stations of the cross” devotion, a symbolic reenactment of Christ’s passion that commemorates the trajectory from his sentencing to his burial in 14 stops.”
Human beings are moved by stories — even more so when a story involves several of the senses. The world’s greatest story is told as one walks the Stations of the Cross. For centuries, this story has also been told in the structure, the stained glass, the artwork, and, yes, the relics at Notre Dame.
Rod Dreher points out that “Cathedrals were ‘poor people’s books,’ because even the illiterate could be taught how to “read” the symbolism on the glass and the stones of the cathedral.”
Notre Dame receives 13 million visitors a year. I went there when I was 16. To me, it was another stop on a sightseeing tour of Paris. At that age, I knew very little — and if I’m honest — cared very little about the things of God. But — inside — looking up, I was drawn to think about Him. Years later, as a believer, I returned.
In her Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan expressed the sadness people of varying faiths felt seeing the cathedral burn. In her words,“Destroyed beauty is a spiritual event.” She called a friend, Liz Lev, who is an art historian, an expert on Catholic art. “When the fire came, for two days, we let our guard down,” Ms. Lev told Ms. Noonan. “It showed us that beauty still affects people, that they know they are custodians. We still need to believe in the beautiful.”
As we invite Christ to write our story, He makes us more like Him, more beautiful.