Today, when I logged onto social media or went for lunch in the Plaza, the news of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral was everywhere. Although I am not Catholic, I’ve been thinking about it all day, and as it’s been tugging at my heartstrings, I felt compelled to write about it in my blog.
As we’ve gone through the semester and studied the impact of religion on society, I feel that this devastating event has illustrated some of the things we have learned. I’ve seen people of all faiths post how saddened they are by this loss of our collective history. I’ve read about crowds of people who gathered outside of the Cathedral and mourned the loss of it together, hugging one another and singing hymns. The original Cathedral was built some 800 years ago, and it has since become one of the most important landmarks, not only in France, but to the Catholic faith in general. It contains many relics and many still attend mass there. It has been a place of worship for many generations, and it is considered an important part of religious and human history, especially for Catholics, but seemingly for all Christians. It represents past and current religious/spiritual experience and ritual, and contains relics which are sacred to the Christian story, belief, and history.
Unfortunate as this tragedy is, it just goes to show how it can bring people together. It has illustrated to me the communal aspect of religion and how it functions in society to allow for shared experiences, past and present. The Notre Dame Cathedral represents this community, faith, and shared experience that religion has allowed for hundreds of years (and beyond that- thousands, millions maybe). It allows us to not only continue to share these feelings and experiences with those currently around us, but it gives us a way to connect with our ancestors.