When I heard that there would (of course) be a special Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Sunday – to pray for the victims of Friday night’s terror attacks – I thought of the votive candles. Hundreds of votive candles, carrying prayerful smoky wisps heavenward.
When I was in France twenty years ago, I saw many cathedral ceilings covered in soot. For unless a church community can afford the time-consuming and careful process required for removing centuries’ worth of grime from stone, plaster, and paint, the residue of thousands upon thousands of soulful expressions must remain.
So in many sacred places, I gazed upward into a chalky blackness that obscured colorful, inspiring art, hidden just behind.
This weekend, it was hard to look at Paris and see its beautiful view. Candles on its sidewalks, near its restaurants, in its churches, gave the ‘City of Light’ a sadder connotation. ‘Not like this,’ I thought. ‘It shouldn’t be like this.’
But faith requires looking past the present, and holding fast to a beautiful hope that is hidden – for now. And faith is also standing steady on the promises of the past, which point to a secure eternal future.
In this world you will have trouble. But take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33