Last week’s fire in Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral has resulted in an outpouring of love and support for the people of France, for whom this sacred building has both religious and secular significance. It has also caused some men and women to reflect on the spiritual parallel that they discern in this terribly tragic event. As one writer astutely observed:
“The symbolism of the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral, the most renowned building in Western civilization, the iconic symbol of Western Christendom, is hard to miss. It is as if God Himself wanted to warn us in the most unmistakable way that Western Christianity is burning — and with it, Western civilization.”
Much of Europe in recent decades has rejected its Christian roots, especially regarding issues of personal morality. Many nations, like Ireland and Italy, which were once bastions of the faith, are now secularized states in social disarray. The refusal of the European Union to honor the request made by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI — that the Union reference Europe’s Christian heritage in its official documents — is indicative of the extent to which Europe has “burned” its ties to traditional Christianity.
We need to pray that in the very near future the people of Europe will become as concerned about the spiritual “fire” that’s engulfing their once-vibrant Christian culture as they now are about the partial destruction of one of its most important and beautiful symbols. May they then work to rebuild that culture with the same diligence and determination that they will employ in rebuilding the Notre Dame Cathedral.