The West’s Parish Church | Chronicles Magazine

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The emotional outpouring prompted by news of the fire at Notre Dame de Paris has been extraordinary. It has been marked by both depth and breadth… A lot of us, it turns out, think of Mary’s church in the heart of France as a friend. And that friendship reveals several important truths and, ultimately, suggests a reason for hope.

Source: The West’s Parish Church | Chronicles Magazine

It is easy – all too easy! – to become dismayed, distressed, and disillusioned in today’s world, when so many good things are being defamed, derided, and even destroyed, often by those unworthy to unloose the sandal-latchets of those they are attacking, or the makers of the things they are attacking. It is even all too easy to fall into despair.

But despair is a sin – reflecting a lack of faith in the God of all Creation to protect and preserve, ultimately, the good, the true, and the beautiful, despite the damage misdirected human pride and free will can do in the short run. It is also a sin, because it gives too much credit to evil. Things may rarely be as good as we wish they were, true; but it is also true that they are rarely as bad as we fear they are, either.

Take, for example, the fire that so badly damaged Notre Dame, le Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris: the jewel of Western Christendom, and what author Tom Piatak calls, in this essay, “the West’s parish church.” I, myself, was absolutely heart-sick at the thought that it might have been destroyed. And it is easy to see in those flames a metaphor for the plight – perhaps even the downfall – of the Christian West.

But the Cathedral of Notre Dame stands, and as Piatak points out, there is reason for hope. As my dear late mother would have reminded me, God is still in charge! After citing a number of specific and encouraging signs – which I encourage you to read for yourself in the essay – both before and after the Notre Dame fire, Piatak concludes,

“In the last few days, the world has been considering what it would mean to lose one of the masterpieces of medieval Christendom for all time. There is widespread agreement that such a loss would be profound. And there is reason to hope that the near loss of something that people have come to realize is so dear to them will cause at least some to reflect upon their attachment to Notre Dame and, as a result, come to cherish the civilization that built her…

May the near loss of one of the greatest monuments of Western civilization and an irreplaceable treasure lead us back to the Faith without which the West would not have come into existence, and without which the West will not continue to exist.”

Amen. May God grant it!

The Burning of Notre Dame and the Destruction of Christian Europe | Gatestone Institute

“Notre Dame is more than 800 years old. It survived the turbulence of the Middle Ages, the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, two World Wars and the Nazi occupation of Paris. It did not survive what France is becoming in the 21st century.”

Source: The Burning of Notre Dame and the Destruction of Christian Europe | Gatestone Institute

Sobering.

“French President Emmanuel Macron, who had never even mentioned the attacks on Saint Denis or Saint Sulpice, quickly went to Notre Dame and declared, ‘Notre Dame is our history, our literature, our imagination.’ He totally left out cathedral’s religious dimension…

“For the foreseeable future, the heart of Paris will bear the terrible scars of a fire that devastated far more than a cathedral. The fire destroyed an essential part of what is left of the almost-lost soul of France and what France could accomplish when the French believed in something higher than their own day-to-day existence.”

Ah, ma Françe! Qu’est ce qui t’es arrivé? Où vas-tu et que seras-tu quand tu arriveras?

(Ah, my France! What has happened to you? Where are you going, and what will you be when you arrive?)

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy…

The Notre Dame fire: what was saved and what was lost | Aleteia

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Amidst the fire’s wreckage, much of the treasures of Notre Dame were saved.

Source: The Notre Dame fire: what was saved and what was lost | Aleteia

While the damage to le Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris from Monday’s fire was very severe, not only the structure of the Cathedral, but many of the priceless, irreplaceable artifacts and relics contained within were preserved. In fact, it is remarkable, gratifying, and – I would maintain – miraculous, how much has been saved!

The roof and the spire are gone, of course (and the current plans to update the spire – rather than restoring it – are very concerning, to those of us who care about tradition, heritage, and aesthetics); but the treasures that remain include:

  • The High Altar and its Cross:

“However, amidst the chaos, the cross suspended above the altar remains intact, “painful and luminous at the same time,” in the words of Fr. Grosjean, a priest of the diocese of Versailles.”

  • Many statues, including three of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • The largest and most famous of the Cathedral’s four organs, dating back to the 13th century
  • Incredibly, the Rose Windows and much of the Cathedral’s stained glass, including all or nearly all of its medieval stained glass
  • Furthermore, all of the major Christian relics appear to have been saved:

“The tunic of St. Louis and the Crown of Thorns were saved, said Bishop Patrick Chauvet, rector of the cathedral, on Monday evening. Two other relics kept at Notre Dame, a piece of the Cross and a nail from the Passion, also escaped the flames, thanks to the work of the firefighters.”

  • Even the rooster-shaped bronze reliquary that topped the Cathedral’s spiral survived both the inferno that consumed the spire, and the long fall that followed, and

“was found intact on Tuesday—damaged, but whole, according to Bishop Patrick Chauvet. The three relics that were miraculously saved within it are a piece of the Holy Crown of Thorns and relics of St. Denis and St. Genevieve, patrons of Paris.”

Follow the link for more details. But if this – both the fire itself, and what has by God’s grace survived it – is not an allegory for the times we are living in, and an inspiration to Christians concerned by the decline of Western Christendom, I do not know what is!

Only by returning to the Faith can we truly rebuild Notre Dame | Catholic Herald

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Image by Getty.

What should make us tremble is that to truly rebuild Notre Dame will require becoming the kind of people who built her in the first place.

Source: Only by returning to the Faith can we truly rebuild Notre Dame | Catholic Herald

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris was built out of stone and wood and glass without electricity or computers. It was not built by committee, or consultants or according to state regulations. It was built by a culture superior to our own. And we know it..

“As the spire cracked and buckled, millions of us felt civilization trembling…

“We tremble because we know that the world has been drawing down a Christian inheritance for centuries, drawing down the cultural wealth of the Faith into rampant prodigal decadence.

“The proximate cause of the fire is not yet known, but the symbolic cause is hundreds of years in the making…”

 

T.S. Eliot on Christianity and Culture

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“I am talking about the common tradition of Christianity which has made Europe what it is, and about the common cultural elements which this common Christianity has brought with it. If Asia were converted to Christianity tomorrow, it would not thereby become apart of Europe. It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that the laws of Europe have—until recently—been rooted. It is against a background of Christianity that all our thought has significance.

“An individual European may not believe that the Christian Faith is true, and yet what he says, and makes, and does, will all spring out of his heritage of Christian culture and depend upon that culture for its meaning. Only a Christian culture could have produced a Voltaire or a Nietzsche. I do not believe that the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian Faith. And I am convinced of that, not merely because I am a Christian myself, but as a student of social biology.

If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready made. You must wait for the grass to grow to feed the sheep to give the wool out of which your new coat will be made. You must pass through many centuries of barbarism. We should not live to see the new culture, nor would our great-great-great-grandchildren: and if we did, not one of us would be happy in it.”

— T.S. Eliot, Christianity And Culture.

We must defend.

The future of our culture and civilization is not negotiable.

 

IC XC NIKA – Jesus Christ conquers!

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Jesus Christ conquers!

Jesus Christ is victorious!

Jesus Christ is Lord!

As the “Word Incarnate” blog explains it,

IC XC are abbreviations (in both Greek and Slavonic) for the name Jesus Christ. NIKA is a Greek verb that means ‘conquers’ (perhaps ‘is victorious’ is better, though not as grammatically accurate).”

And of course, the sigil in the laurel-wreath, surmounted by a crown, is the Chi Rho, another monogram of Christ, being the first letters of that divine name – CH + R – in Greek. Although the letters are Greek, they could also be seen as standing for the first initials of “Christus Rex” (Christ the King) in Latin.

I love this image, with the Imperial double eagle as well as the crowned laurel-wreath emphasizing the heavenly Kingship of Christ! And the earthly Kinship as well, of course; for although He said “my Kingdom is not of this world,” during His Incarnation, that was to warn people against thinking that he was a merely earthly monarch, or that the salvation He wrought was merely temporal in nature.

In His essence, He is King of both Heaven and Earth, and while in a temporal sense His reign has not yet come, sub specie aeternitatis – “under the aspect of eternity,” in relation to the eternal, in light of that which is eternally and universally true – His Kingship is likewise both universal and eternal, existing throughout all time and space.

Ave Christus Rex!

 

Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All Saints

One of the most important bishops of Rome and most influential writers of the Middle Ages, Gregory the First is one of only two popes (the other being Leo the First), to have been given the epithet “the Great.”

Source: Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome, 604 | For All Saints

Perhaps best known for being credited with the compilation of the canon of what is now known (after him) as “Gregorian chant” – that is to say, monastic plainchant, for the Holy Eucharist (the Mass) and the Daily Office – as well as reforms to the Roman liturgy; although as this account notes,

“His role in the development of the Roman liturgy and its chant was considerable, though disputed. He certainly modified various minor features and composed a number of prayers which formed the nucleus of the Gregorian Sacramentary, though this work reached its final form after his death. Many prayers in the sacramentary, if not actually written by him, were inspired by his through and phraseology. Since the tenth century his name has been associated with ‘Gregorian’ chant: while the chant bearing his name arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Gallican and Roman chant, he probably played a role in the gradual codification and adaptation of several preexisting forms of plainsong.”

Not only chant is known by his name: Gregory’s influence on the Roman liturgy is such that the traditional Roman Catholic Eucharistic canon is frequently known as the “Gregorian Canon,” and our Western Rite Orthodox brothers and sisters call the form of their liturgy based on it “the Liturgy of St. Gregory.”

His primary significance for Anglicans, however, lies in his role as “Apostle to the English”:

“Apparently convinced that the future of Christianity lay with monasticism and not with the declining Eastern Roman Empire, he hoped to lead a group of missionaries in taking the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons in Britain, after seeing English children or youth on sale as slaves in the Roman market around the year 573. He is said to have remarked on their beauty as being like that of angels, whereupon he was told that they were in fact Angles – causing him to say, Non Angli, sed angeli: “Not Angles, but angels.” But this was not to be his ministry…

Nevertheless, “One of Gregory’s most notable achievements was the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. He personally took the lead in the whole process, sending Augustine, prior of his own monastery of Saint Andrew’s on the Caelian Hill, and a number of fellow monks to southeastern Britain, to the Jutish kingdom of Kent, where they achieved within a few years the conversion of the people and of their king, Ethelbert. Gregory continue personally to guide the mission in matters that perplexed Augustine by sending a supporting group of missionaries, along with liturgical vessels, books, and vestments, in 601; and by writing to Ethelbert and his Christian queen, Bertha on various matters.

“The close relationship between Rome and the English Church was continued by Gregory’s successors, and in many ways the Church in England was closer to the papacy than the Church in Gaul was. The first Life of Gregory was written in England, and from the biographies written by the Venerable Bede, Aldhelm, and the anonymous biographer of Whitby come eulogies of Gregory as ‘the apostle of the English,’ ‘our father and apostle in Christ,’ and ‘he from whom we have received the Christian faith, he who will present the English people to the Lord on the Day of Judgment as their teacher and apostle.'”