Because of Holy Week, we had to have our Easter bulletin to the printer early, so I did not get a chance to comment on the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. I know that those of you who are long-time members of Mother of God Church were remembering the fire here in 1986, as you were watching the news reports about Notre Dame. Similarly, that fire was also caused by workmen doing renovations on the church.
I have been blessed to have been to Paris a few times, and the height of my experience of Paris is Notre Dame Cathedral. The Eifel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Palace of Versailles and other sites are beautiful, impressive and moving, but it was always Notre Dame that stood out above the rest. I think that is true for virtually any Catholic, but it was also true for many who are not believers, or even friends of Christianity.
Notre Dame is the heart and the soul of Paris and of France. Its architecture and its art work are breathtaking on their own. The windows are among the most beautiful in the world. But Notre Dame is first and foremost a church, a place of worship, a house of God. As soon as you walk into Notre Dame, your sight and your spirit are lifted up. You are instantly aware that you are in a sacred space. (The same can be said about Mother of God Church and the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.) I cannot imagine how someone can stand in the midst of this incredible building and, at least for that moment, deny the reality and the presence of God.
Like so many others, as I watched the fire burning on that Monday afternoon, I was both horrified and heartbroken. The very idea of there not being a Notre Dame Cathedral in this world was unimaginable. And the idea of a Paris without Notre Dame was unthinkable.
Thankfully, the damage to the Cathedral was not as devastating as was first feared. The great double facade and the basic structure were left. Hence, Notre Dame Cathedral will rise again. There is a determination among the French government and the worldwide community of Catholics to make sure that this spiritual treasure will not be lost forever.
— Fr. Mike Comer