Smoke rises in front of the altar cross inside the Notre Dame cathedral. Philippe Wojazer/AFP/Getty Images
I am writing this article in the midst of unexpected chaos happening in Paris. One of the greatest monuments of Catholicism, Notre Dame de Paris, has caught fire. As expected, this tragedy has struck not only France and Europe, but the whole world; people's phones are blowing up as they receive constant updates on the fire. But there is an even greater silence and sorrow among a group of people who are watching this tragedy play out, for it is especially close to their hearts.
All Catholics, whether practicing or not, feel a heavy pain in their hearts and souls not only for this cathedral’s destruction but also for their Holy Mother Church. The faith is so deeply rooted, that a tragedy like this can do nothing but pull one closer to the thing they truly love and hold dear. Today, Catholics unite in a sorrowful prayer, begging that such a monument may be rescued from the heartless flames.
Cathedrals are our sanctuaries. Cathedrals are where we worship the Divine and venerate the blessed. Cathedrals are the place we give homage. The beauty and architecture of the Cathedral is a constant reminder of the beauty of our faith. Cathedrals tell a story about the intended journey of a soul.
Update: The spire of Notre Dame de Paris has collapsed.
The spire of a cathedral is a symbol of piety and strength. The spire reaches for the heavens, a symbolic gesture, a metaphor that translates to each baptized soul constantly striving to reach its ultimate end, which is heaven.
Is the collapse of the spire a reminder of the collapse of piety and strength in the Catholic world today. Is it a reminder that we are shying away from the fight that we are confronted with every day? Have we become so numb and so lacking of depth that we need the burning of a cathedral to realize and remember the beauty of our faith? It is a good question for self-reflection.
Update: The roof of Notre Dame de Paris has collapsed.
Today, it is not only the heart of the catholic that aches, but the soul herself sheds tears, for a member of the holy Catholic Church has fallen. It was this beautiful cathedral that brought thousands of souls out of a spiritual death by the waters of baptism, absolution of confession, and the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. It is in this beautiful monument that so many souls were protected, kings were crowned, and royalty was married. It is this church that is the heart of the Catholic Church in France.
Update: French officials say the cathedral has been “saved from total destruction”.
The Catholic Church has seen heresy and crushed it. She has seen war and conquered it. She has seen the Black Plague and survived it. She has seen martyrdom and refused to surrender. She has seen famine and fed her flock. She has seen schism and brought back unity. She has seen corruption and rooted it out.
The Catholic Church has been bombarded from every evil that has beset this earth, yet she is still standing. The Catholic Church refuses to give up. When she is battered down, she refuses to show weakness; stands up and rebuilds what has been broken. So shall this monumental symbol of Catholicism be rebuilt. If the eternal fires of hell cannot stop us from conquering and preserving our faith, then the mortal fires that beset the Cathedral will surely not.
Why did we feel pain today when we heard the news? It is not only because the Cathedral itself is beautiful. No, it is because the philosophy and religion attached to the church is beautiful. It is because we, in a sense, have been separated from something we forgot we loved so much, our faith. Like a child taken from a mother, we have been torn away from what we love, and we want nothing more than to be united again!
It is a solemn day, but do not give up hope. Do not surrender. For as a Catholic, that which can harm our body can never harm our soul. So we must use the pain and sorrow we feel today to bring ourselves closer to God. As the beautiful Notre Dame de Paris will be rebuilt so as to continue to remind Catholics of who they are, so we must rebuild our relationship for the One we feel pain for today, God.
Update: The altar of Notre Dame de Paris is still standing.