Editorial: Notre Dame fire shows strength of resurrection
It took more than a hundred years to build. It stood for hundreds more. It defined the skyline of a city and the soul of a religion.
And it didn’t stand a prayer against the consuming hunger of fire.
The vast, awe-inspiring beauty of one of the great palaces of Catholicism was eaten to a cinder like a wooden match when the Cathedral of Notre Dame burned while the world watched on Monday.
That it happened while the cathedral was in the midst of renovation was ironic. That it happened on Holy Monday as Christians mark a solemn week building toward the celebration of Easter compounds the tragedy.
That it happens while governments around the globe — and the Catholic church itself — struggle with upheaval is a way for the great cathedral to once more ring the bell that calls attention and leads the faithful forward.
Because Notre Dame didn’t die. It fell. It can rise again.
The French government has declared the cathedral will be rebuilt. Those defining towers still stand. The foundation is still there. Most important, this is nothing new.
Notre Dame endured the damage of violent religious turmoil in the 16th century. It survived the French Revolution’s blood and terror. It outlasted Nazi occupation.
There may be no better example for the world that there is always a way to resurrect after a tragedy.
It will do what it has done before. It will be evaluated. What is broken? What can be repaired? What must be replaced? What can be salvaged and what should be let go? What is critical to the cathedral’s landmark status and its soulful mission? What can be be improved?
It will not happen overnight. But it will happen. There will come a day when tour guides point to the beautiful structure and say “If you look there, you can see remnants of the fire of 2019.” The destruction will be a detail. The reconstruction will be the reality.
There is no nation — or city or state — on earth that cannot learn from this, including the Vatican.
Our cathedrals are all on fire. We can watch them burn and point fingers, or we can save what can be saved, rebuild what can be rebuilt and make a taller tower that will stand for another few hundred years.
We just have to decide if we want to be the fire that will burn and die or the cathedral that will burn and rise.