In Search Of Notre-Dame
I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from a gentleman who had made a trip to France and recorded his thoughts in a blog he calls Scriptorium Daily. His words are those of a person able to sense the loss of the Christian heritage and the cultural decline, even though this was his first trip. However, all is not lost. Here are some excerpts, written in quality prose:
Notre Dame contains so much beauty, is so beautiful, that I hated being unmoved.
I wanted to love it. I wanted to love Paris. I was with my best girl and we were going to spend six days in the City of Lights and I was primed to bathe in its legendary beauty. Instead, I felt as a man must have who came to Constantinople after the Fourth Crusade. The city was still there, but it was nothing like the dreams of the poets.
Where was France? Had the Revolution destroyed all of the greatness? Was it all just Napoleonic hubris and secular glory?
Notre Dame was built by faithful men, but for me at least the soul was gone.
The bells of the church may have sounded while I was within, on the river, or walking in the plaza, but they made no sound I could hear. They brought no pause to the hucksterism in the square or to the tourist prattle in the Church. The bells of Notre Dame made no sound. (...)
The ugliness of the French Revolution is obvious in French churches. Everywhere one sees destruction of beauty with nothing built to replace it.
The Revolutionaries preached liberty, but gave only equality. Love knows nothing of equality, but delights in difference and has passion for a hierarchy of values. The France of Thomas Aquinas knew this. The France of Descartes knew it. Where is the France of the peasant girl who could bow to a lesser man and so raise him on her shoulders to the throne?
I began to feel the Revolution was a kind of cancer never excised from the great French body politic. So strong was the constitution of ancient France that greatness was (and is) still possible. They have not yet stamped out all traces of Joan’s France.
In periods of Revolutionary remission culture would flower, but still the lies of the secular revolution spread and were not removed. The city seemed layered with the residue of remission and the destruction of tyrannical Republican excess all ending in the banality of socialism.
Can a socialist country long sustain beauty and excellence? (...)
The Church of the Sacred Heart is new compared to Notre Dame, but full of prayer. It was a place dedicated to spiritual renewal and repentance for cultural apostasy. It was utterly French, but it was in that sacred space the universal Christian could feel most at home. (...)
By all means read the whole entry at Scriptorium Daily.
The photo of Notre-Dame viewed from the back is by Lynxette 79.
His entry on Paris is divided into two parts. The second part relates his search for King Louis IX, known as Saint Louis. You will find the link in the black box on the right of the web page. Or, see my next post.