Let's clean out the notebook ...
• Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, was on the mark Tuesday night when he told Chris Cuomo on CNN that many pastors and priests will likely borrow from the fire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for their Holy Week and Easter sermons. It is incredibly too powerful to ignore and fits so well into the narrative of Easter.
This weekend, we mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the story of rebirth and redemption that we have known, but certainly in these troubled times, the faith and hope of Christ seems to have been crowded out amid all the headlines.
It is no secret that these are tough times for France, which has had demonstrations in recent months - the president was going to speak to the nation about it the night of the fire - and Europe is not exactly warm to Christianity these days, as it is moved to be more secular.
The fire at the cathedral was a total shock, first of all because it was already undergoing intensive, crucial renovation. It had been well documented by the media and things were looking up. And the symbolism to Christianity and to French and world history over hundreds of years is priceless, surviving in the exact center of Paris throughout turbulent history, even surviving the Nazis.
So the fire has become a shock to the French, as if our Capitol building, the centerpiece of nation's capital, had burned. I take it that even without terrorism involved it has been shock on the level of Sept. 11, 2001. It is a constant that has stood the test of time, and it was all in danger of going.
Of course, we in the South have known what it is like when a fire hits a church. In a smaller town, it is the only story, no matter which denomination you are in - it just devastates you. I've seen churches offer help and space, and whole communities gather at the affected church, whether Church of Christ or Free Will Baptist or Southern Baptist.
This has been like that on a national and worldwide basis. You can see the shock.
Dolan noted that, as the fires were burning into the night, French Christians took to the streets and sang Christian-themed songs. It was, like with 9/11, a jolt on Holy Week of what is important.
He said the Paschal Mystery is being represented in the tragedy. According to the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The Paschal Mystery accomplished once for all by the redemptive death of His Son Jesus Christ." The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, states that "The Paschal Mystery of Jesus, which comprises his passion, death, resurrection, and glorification, stands at the center of the Christian faith because God's saving plan was accomplished once for all by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ."
Dolan, in other words, is pointing to the fire that threatened to destroy the old cathedral, but, as of Tuesday night, we began to realize many items and many parts of the structure were saved. It is amazing to see the altar, with a cross that almost gleams. From this, it would seem that the cathedral may can be saved with extensive repairs, keeping its general character, albeit with much work to accomplish. But it is clearer now it will rise from the ashes, and in many ways already has.
It has been amazing to see people come from across the globe to offer help, as well as those who have prayed and sang. In that, we have seen the church come back this week, as Christ seems to have been renewed in hearts across the world on Holy Week approaching Easter. Apparently the mystery of the power of Christ to make Himself known is still at work, even using a fire in an old cathedral to remind the world that He is still important and vital, and captures our attention.
Needless to say, many pastors and priests - and a few editorial writers - will have an easy subject to write about this week.
• On that same thread, I noted someone on PBS pointing out that authorities will have to decide what part they want to represent in a reconstruction of Notre Dame. The sphere that fell in the fire was actually installed in the 1800s. Do you take it back to there and put it up, or do you represent an earlier period? (I know one thing. Fire detectors are going to represent the 21st Century regardless. I think we are going to find more could have been done on that line.)
• The best news on Wednesday came from CNN: "Andrew Tallon, a professor of art at Vassar College, used lasers to painstakingly scan the cathedral in 2015, giving us a nearly perfect digital replica of the Gothic structure. And his work could help architects and engineers rebuild it after Monday's fire. Tallon studied Gothic architecture and sought to understand how medieval builders erected some of Europe's great cathedrals. So he created a spatial map of Notre Dame using more than a billion laser-measured points.
"Even though Tallon died in December, his digital model will be crucial for restoration efforts because it details exactly what the church looked like before the fire's destruction."
According to CNN, every little thing was measured and give an accurate depiction. The scan unveiled the decisions made in building the structure and many previously unknown characteristics, such as the interior columns on the western end of the cathedral not lining up.