The burning of Notre Dame has broken many hearts, including mine. The fact that it happened in Holy Week feels strangely apocalyptic, as if the stability of our world were suddenly under threat. Like the earthquake at the death of Jesus, it suggests a cosmic shaking of the foundations.
Poems from Book of Lamentations, an anguished response to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., are often sung during Holy week. Written to grieve the loss of a sacred place, their eloquent images of affliction and grief were later appropriated by Christian liturgy to lament the suffering of Christ. In gratitude and sorrow for our beloved Notre Dame, here are some of my own past views of the cathedral, accompanied by selected lamentations from the Holy Week lectionary.
How like a widow she has become, she that was great among the nations. (Lam. 1:1)
Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and distress, all the precious things that were hers in days of old. (Lam. 1:7)
All you who pass this way, look and see: is any sorrow like the sorrow inflicted on me? (Lam. 1:12)
Listen, for I am groaning, with no one to comfort me. (Lam. 1:21)
For vast as the sea is your ruin; who can heal you? (Lam. 2:13)
Cry then to the Lord, rampart of the daughter of Zion; let your tears flow like a torrent day and night. (Lam. 2:18)
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape. . . though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. (Lam. 3:7-8)
But this I call to mind, and so regain some hope: Surely God’s mercies are not over, his kindness is not exhausted. (Lam. 3:21-22)
It is good to wait in silence for Yahweh to save. (Lam.3:26)
Photographs and video by Jim Friedrich
Thank you, Jim. It is a shock. When I first visited Notre Dame in 1967, the stones were dark with grime. They had been revived, and will be revived again.
What is essential will always be revived. As for the rest, we must kiss the joy as it flies, grateful for whatever of it we are able to take in while we can.