How to Reconstruct Notre-Dame de Paris?

May 29, 2019

Since the tragic conflagration of Notre-Dame de Paris, no one talks about anything other than its reconstruction. It is a noble project. It will be a spectacular construction site. But it is also the sign of great ingenuousness, even a pretentious naïveté.

Certainly we have the necessary materials—the oaks for the frame devastated by the flames, the stones for the walls weakened by all the discharged water. Certainly the French craftsmen do not lack know-how: carpenters, masons, stained-glass masters, etc. But do we have the faith to be the builders of a cathedral? For it was faith that allowed the artisans of the Middle Ages to raise this prayer of stone, to build this arched prayer. Without it, we can restore materially, but not build spiritually.

Notre-Dame de Paris was constructed for the glory of God, for the honor of the Most Blessed Virgin, and not for a simple tourist visit, between the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.

There we can well see that we cannot reconstruct it, if it has not rebuilt us internally. Like all the medieval cathedrals, Notre-Dame de Paris is a nave, a vast ship whose prow is the high altar cross. It is in this direction that she guides our eyes, directs our lives, raises our hearts. Sursum corda! Habemus ad Dominum. We turn them towards the Lord who gave His life on this Cross for our salvation. O Crux Ave, spes unica. Greetings, O Cross, our only hope!

Our era is narcissistic. Postmodern man refuses a transcendence that is bigger than his constricted ego. The new liturgy, celebrated around a table, does not help anyone to rise. All is centered on the priest and the faithful; they remain among themselves.

It is rightly said that the liturgy is the expression of the Faith, also the manifestation of a life of faith: lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. To be rebuilt, Notre-Dame requires everyone’s true conversion—to return to her divine Son, to reorient themselves body and soul ad orientem, towards the One who is the Light that has come into this world. Then springs forth the filial prayer of the Salve Regina, “Show unto us, the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”

Fr. Alain Lorans