Easter is almost here, but Lent will nonetheless go on in Paris.
How could it not with such a large, ashen scar on its landscape after Notre Dame Cathedral went ablaze? But there are already signs of great tidings rising out of those same ashes.
Which is why, if I were among the people of France, I would be in no great hurry to rebuild. The Ave Maria that burst from the heart and mouths of countless onlookers, as one of Christendom’s architectural masterpieces smoldered before them, may just be the beginning of a new birth of freedom that requires lamentation for it to sprout forth.
That is why Lent itself was historically such a vital time for Christians. It is the church’s refusal to take what is otherwise just one of 365 days on the calendar for granted, by acknowledging a God that in human form humbled himself and suffered for us. So for these 40 days we take on a far, far less painful suffering to humble ourselves before Him.
Yet across much of Western civilization, and the Christian church that is responsible for so much of its historic blooming, we are in a perpetual Mardi Gras. With no rest from that, a modern day rabble has stepped forward that can simultaneously believe Notre Dame is a treasured and powerful symbol of its national identity, while increasingly casting off and even belittling the very fundamentals of belief that 900 years ago faithfully fashioned one of the greatest places of worship the world has ever known.
That is, quite simply, schizophrenic.
How to overcome that then? How do the prodigal sons and daughters of France come home? And lest you doubt the spiritual state of that land, a poll just came out that fewer than 50 of the professed “Christians” living just across the pond in Great Britain believe in the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ and its atonement for the sins of mankind. Not to be outdone, church attendance in France is among the lowest in the world, with less than 10 percent of those who call themselves Catholic attending weekly mass. Evangelicals only make up about 2 percent of the French population.
For starters, you stare hard into the abyss for as long as it takes, instead of rushing to construct little more than a brand new whitewashed tomb. The shell of Notre Dame should serve as France’s wailing wall. Even if that takes decades and an entire generation – 40 years in the desert, anyone? — to perish from the earth.
The ruin of the cathedral should spark questions.
Such as why such a marvel of wood and stone and glass, built for no other reason over the course of more than 100 years than to glorify the God of the universe and shepherd His people into beauty, truth and love, has become little more than a museum of artifacts in this present age?
Or how come there weren’t people spontaneously singing hymns out front the day before the blaze, or the day before that, or the day (years?) before that? How come they weren’t inspired by what it stood for until they saw it torn down?
Like why did the political twitter I witnessed the day of the fire acknowledge the cathedrals’ commissioning of great art, but disregarded it was built to proclaim the Great Commission?
Much of the ornate, the shiny, and the eye-popping is lost. What remains is a stone foundation. “The stone the builders rejected” is still there. The lavish colors are gone, but the cross — the symbol that not even the fires of hell will prevail — is still there. That’ll preach.
Someone is speaking. Loudly. Let those who have ears to hear …
Steve Deace is broadcast nationally every day on BlazeTV. He is the author of the book “Truth Bombs: Confronting the Lies Conservatives Believe (To Our Own Demise).”