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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mourning the Cathedral of Notre Dame
The start of Holy Week took a tragic turn as the Cathedral of Notre Dame burst into flames due to what officials believe to be an accident resulting from recent renovation efforts, though a full investigation has yet to take place. While much of the roof and signature spire was destroyed, both towers have thankfully been declared safe.
Completed in the 14thcentury, the Cathedral of Notre Dame survived the neglect of the French Revolution, witnessed the crowning of Napoleon Bonaparte, and oversaw the beatification of Joan of Arc.  Indeed, its magnificent centrality to Catholicism and Western civilization cannot be overstated. 
Today, we mourn deeply. My heart is with those in the Catholic community who feel the profound and utter pangs of this tragedy.  Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review penned a particularly somber, yet poignant piece regarding yesterday’s destruction: 

“This is a disaster for Paris and for France, for French history, and for French Catholics. It is a grave loss for the history of Western civilization, and for future generations who, like me, will never see the cathedral’s glorious rose windows or the grandeur of her magnificent spires.

But first and foremost, it is a tragedy for the Catholic Church, whose members are already suffering in so many places. To many Catholics, it feels as if the Church is on fire in a sense already. And now we are watching it blaze. Though Notre Dame de Paris is a testament to world history, to art, to architecture, and to centuries of civilization, above all she is — was — a place of inestimable beauty dedicated to God. The cathedral’s Gothic arches pointed heavenward not for their own sake, not to glorify their creator, but to direct the eye to Him. It was a house of worship, a home for His Presence. That is the loss Catholics mourn this afternoon.

Watching this holy place slowly collapse at the start of Holy Week — which will culminate in the commemoration of Jesus’s passion, death, and resurrection — is of undeniable significance. Notre Dame has fallen, the way everything in the earthly city must. She will not rise from these ashes as she was. Catholics take comfort in the belief that our Church will stand firm.”

The Federalist’s David Marcus offered his reflections Monday evening on the transcendental importance of the Cathedral, which was and is so much more than a structure: 
“The secular world suffered a terrible loss today; all of mankind did. As a historical monument, Notre Dame bespeaks a moment of Western history that, perhaps even more than the Renaissance, signaled the coming of a new world, one in which the public was the beneficiary of remarkable beauty, and when a menaced Europe created grand structures to pronounce its power. But this is not a mere building, magnificent as it is. It is a house of God, specifically a house of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For the Catholic Church, there has always been a tension between the grandiose structures, the incense and gold, and the modest ways of Christ who was more comfortable preaching in the fields than in the temple. It is an unmistakable realization that Notre Dame burned during Holy Week, when Jesus overturned the table of the moneychangers at the temple. But we are mere humans, we are not Christ, we are more like the Magi, and we offer him gifts. For 12th century Parisians, Notre Dame was such a gift. And for a millennium, it has stood near the center of our faith…
Yes, this a tragedy for the world, for all of us. But for Catholics it is more, as the grieving Parisians showed us. It is an opportunity, such as we have everyday in quieter, less famous moments, to ask ourselves if we are with Christ, if we trust and obey him. For most, if not all Catholics, the answer is usually no, and a request for forgiveness. But today, in Paris, as Catholics sang before the ashes of their soon-to-be ruin, as they took comfort in the Lord to soothe them, as they and all of us prepare to celebrate his resurrection and the life to come, the answer was yes.”
Emily Zanotti of The Daily Wire shared her thoughts in a piece yesterday evening, discussing the relationship between rebuilding the Cathedral and restoring unity in the global Catholic community:

“I have stood in some of the greatest structures in the world. One fall, I sang in the choir at the Vatican, and crawled through the quiet places of St. Peter's Basilica — the secret archives, the music room, the sacristy, even the broom closests (home to the tombs of a few poor, forgotten Popes) — but nothing ever made me feel quite the way Notre Dame did, especially when the sun broke through the monstrous Rose Window, an unmistakeable reminder of heaven even when God's voice in my life wasn't particularly clear.

When I watched the video of the spire falling this morning, I could feel it breaking my heart into a million pieces inside me. That reminder was gone.

And that's why Notre Dame must be rebuilt.

Because now, more than ever, we need a reminder that art, that beauty, and most of all, that faith, transcend human error. At a time when the Catholic Church needs unity, rebuilding one of our great structures — the historical home of the Crown of Thornes, and the site of so much of our history — may be the one way that we can recommit to facing the trials at present and ahead together…

Rebuild. Rebuild Notre Dame, to show that our lives and our faith are more than just temporary. Rebuild to show that we will continue to withstand the destructive forces that threaten to tear us apart, even when they drive us to our knees and burn us to the ground. Show that we may only have a few decades of life, but that our legacy, our strength, and our beauty live on.”
Quick Links
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld Announced Primary Challenge to Trump in 2020 (National Review)
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  • How Trump Masterfully Frames the Ilhan Omar Debate (American Greatness)
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Erielle Davidson is a law student at Georgetown University Law Center. She previously was an economic research assistant at the Hoover Institution and a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute.  She enjoys Chick-Fil-A, her pug, and Russian literature. Find her on Twitter at @politicalelle.

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