Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame is burning. . .

Notre Dame burning is not simply shocking but tragic.  A cathedral which stood for more than 800 years ends up being tinder and in a few hours the iconic steeple has fallen and the roof has caved in to leave it a shell of its former self.  There is no way to speak of this profound loss to Roman Catholicism, to Christianity, and to France.  That said, what Notre Dame stands for was long ago lost to France and it's fire burned image only highlights the sad state of affairs for the Christian faith there.

I am confident that my words will be echoed by those who grieve not simply for the loss of a building but for the faith in a nation where history had woven together the fate of the people with a Christian identity.  Europe has been on a deliberate march toward a post-Christian society that has been remarkably successful according to research that has shown a majority of young people in a dozen countries have no religion.  Majorities of the young do not attend religious services or pray or even identify as religious and France is among the top 8 most secular nations according to recent surveys.

Though there is some anecdotal evidence of a religious revival in France, 53 percent of citizens identify as Catholic, less than 5 percent regularly attend Mass, according to a recent poll conducted by Ipsos and reported by the Catholic newspaper La Croix.  Priestly vocations are pathetic though some would suggest that they are not declining like they once were -- hardly much of an encouragement in a nation in which many priests are still actively serving even into their late 70s.  How will renewal happen without priests to lead?  Even with those who identify as Roman Catholics (culturally, at least), the distance between these and their Church on Sunday morning does not encourage the idea of renewal.  Christian identity remains stronger outside of France (in Italy, as one example, where nearly a third of the population believes the faith is very important to their national identity).

The most interest in religion is France was sparked by politics more than theology.  Since 1905, the government is supposedly neutral toward religion.  Since 1912, Islam has been legally recognized though no one would dare to suggest that Islam has received a warm welcome or instant acceptance among the French, whether they are religious French or not.  Only 120 some priests were ordained across the whole of France last year and about a fifth of them ordained belong to traditionalist communities.  Half of the dioceses did not ordain even one priest in 2018.

So if you grieve a building, you must first of all grieve the loss of Christianity and if you are sad to see such an icon be destroyed then you must also grieve the loss of what was iconed -- orthodox Christianity.  It will be a monumental task to rebuild Notre Dame but the restoration of a building is still easier than recovering the faith and restoring a deep and profound Christian character to the nation.  So if we pray for a building today, let us pray even more fervently for the renewal of orthodox and catholic Christianity or we will be left with a monument to what was -- instead of a voice and a community in testimony of what is and will be. . .


Anonymous said...

My first thought was how powerful a symbol this is of the state of Christianity in France and throughout Europe.

Anonymous said...

My first though was how sad, what was once a symbol of Christianity is not much more than a tourist attraction as with most every other old church building in Europe. Also for pilgrims to visit superstitions to lessen time in purgatory. The fire is sad, the lack of Christianity in once prosperous areas is so much worse.

Carl Vehse said...

"Every major Western (and one major non-Western) social and intellectual force has conspired to rid Europe of Christianity and the civilization it produced.

"Within the Western world, the French Enlightenment — the intellectual basis of the French Revolution and the modern West — sought to replace Christianity, and religion in general, with secularism rooted in reason. No God, Bible or Ten Commandments is necessary for morality or meaning: reason (and science) will replace them.

"The two final deathblows to Christianity in Europe were the world wars. World War I ended most Westerners' belief in the nation-state and the West. Christianity, already weakened by the Enlightenment, was further weakened by World War I. German Christians were killing millions of French and English Christians, and French and English Christians were killing millions of German Christians. So the argument and sentiment against Christianity went. Then World War II saw even more death on the Christian continent as well as the failure of Catholic and Protestant churches in Nazi Germany to offer even minimal noncompliance with the Nazis' Jew-hatred.

"With the end of World War II, every internal Western intellectual doctrine was secular. God, the Bible and religion were regarded at best as innocuous nonsense and at worst as noxious nonsense.

"Meanwhile, Europeans brought a non-European ideology into Europe, an ideology that, for more than a thousand years, sought to replace Christianity as the world's dominant religion. The Europeans, believing in nothing distinctly Christian or Western and believing in the moral and intellectual nonsense known as "multiculturalism" — a doctrine that asserts that all cultures are morally equivalent — saw nothing problematic in bringing millions of Muslims into Europe. They had no idea that most of these people actually wanted to replace Christianity with their religion. They had no idea because, in their ignorance and arrogance, they assumed that because they were secular multiculturalists, everybody else was, too — or would be, once they lived in Europe.

"They were wrong, of course. And as a result, the two dominant forces in Europe — secular leftism and Islamism — sought the end of Christianity and the West. (The left believes that protecting Western civilization is equivalent to protecting white supremacy.)

"This is not producing a pretty picture."

Excerpted from Dennis Prager's April 16, 2019, column, "Notre Dame: An Omen."

Anonymous said...

RE: Carl Vehse April 16, 2019 at 4:02 PM (actually Richard Strickard of Dallas TX)
Dennis Prager also writes: Unhappy, let alone angry, religious people provide more persuasive arguments for atheism and secularism than do all the arguments of atheists.
Mourn the destruction of a church in Paris. The Re-build of the Gothic Cathedral (and God-Willing, a re-building of the faith that built it) will be long remembered after pontificating Richard Strickard is long forgotten. I was humbled when I read that the Anglican Church prayed for 80-some years for the return of Christianity to "the Russias."
Richard; you are too hard and bitter and too trusting of politics and governments. Trust God to bring His Word to the World for He has promised to do just that. Put not your trust in princes. Pray that re-building of Norte Dame will lead to a re-birth of Christian faith in Europe. You are very big on pointing out the obvious problems and way too small on pointing out the solution: trust that God will keep his Promises and that Law and Gospel will be preached.

Carl Vehse said...

Anonymous at 10:57 AM,

The Dennis Prager quote you posted is not in Prager's article, "Notre Dame: An Omen," from which I posted excerpts. Do you have the original source of the Prager quote so that the context of the quote can be determined; or did you just grab the quote from some PragerQuote website?

How does the quote you provided address the Prager excerpts about the decline of Christianity in France as well as the rest of Europe? Or how does it fit into the numerous church burnings and vandalism in France over the past few months?

The rest of your ad hominem bombast appears to project your own anger and bitterness over something. Have you talked to your pastor (or mental health services) about your issues?

Carl Vehse said...

"Police have confirmed that a fire in the French church of Notre-Dame de Grâce [in Eyguieres, France] on Easter Sunday appears to have been intentionally set, making it the latest in a string of desecrations of Christian churches in the country.
The fire was started in a large, wooden confessional around 4:30pm and proceeded to consume a dais in the presbytery of the eighteenth-century church located in the southern French town of Eyguières, near Provence.

“ 'Flames several meters high were coming out of the church,' said the mayor of Eyguières, Henri Pons, before a team of 30 firefighters with six vehicles arrived and managed to contain the blaze.

"An area of some 20 square meters in the church was destroyed but observers have noted that the damage would have been far worse had it not been it not for the bold intervention of a local inhabitant.

" 'A man who lives in front of the church saw the flames emerging from a stained-glass window,' the mayor said. He 'used fire extinguishers from the village movie theater and courageously entered the church while waiting for firefighters to arrive.'

“If this brave citizen, a former top sportsman, had not intervened, the church would probably have burned to the ground," the mayor reported. 'It was Easter Sunday and there was almost nobody in the village.'

"The local hero, a judo champion by the name of Joel Jouve, said afterward that the air in the church was 'unbreathable' and there was very little light when he entered, but he was able to find two holy water fonts, which he emptied onto the fire."

Excerpted from an April 23, 2019, Breitbart article, "Another French Church Burns on Easter Sunday, Probable Arson."

Carl Vehse said...

The latest on the restoration of Notre Dame:

"Macron does not believe that the rebuilding of the Notre Dame should be intended to restore the glory of the ancient Gothic cathedral (with the painstaking labor that went into it); instead, Macron wants it to be recreated to be 'consistent with our modern, diverse nation.'

"Now what might that mean? Here’s an indicator: an architect has proposed that the new structure include a minaret. A minaret is a type of tower built into mosques as a visual focal point and used for the Islamic call to prayer. The architect sees fit to 'memorialize Algerians who protested the French government in the 1960s' since 'these victims of the state could be memorialized by replacing the spire with – why not? – a graceful minaret'."

Excerpted from an April 25th Jihad Watch article, "Macron says Notre Dame should be rebuilt in line with diversity; architect suggests an Islamic minaret be included."