A Protestant’s Reflections on Notre Dame

This bit comes from the journal of a Protestant reflecting on his first impression of the Notre Dame in Paris.

I walked through Paris, taking some wrong turns but generally going in the right direction, noticing the old, pretty facades that make this city a bit of a wonderland, the aftermath of the previous night’s celebration–a toppled three-wheel motorcycle, quiet streets, and signs of drinking and festivities. The city was just beginning to wake, and once again it felt like a modern metropolis. O Paris, city of love, ailed by the uprooted immigrants, traumatized by war and occupation, yet still holding onto your beautiful heritage of facades; of an almost pagan obsession with beauty, if it were not for your love of the subtle, the pure, the heavenly. As I turned left, I found myself suddenly on the square in front of the Cathedral. I hadn’t spotted it on my way, and, though I knew it should be around the corner, my tiredness kept me loose, off my guard—and I stood face to face with the Cathedral, and, not knowing why, teared up. This monument, this thought of man and hard work of many more men, dedicated to God, stood there, with the many figures on its facade, and told its own story on first glance. The incredible thought, hard work, and dedication which unified many men in creating this single Cathedral stood testament to the many personal stories of God’s greatness–His never ending love and faithfulness–that moved each man to dedicate the best of their life, to build this as a thanks, a devotion, an imperfect yet sanctified praise to the God Who sustains all and comforts the downtrodden, Who reaches out to help those Who do not seek Him. Here God dwells, in an imperfect tabernacle, yet one that recognizes God’s greatness with its every nerve, in the very core of its character. For, unlike all the other beautiful grandeurs of Paris, Notre Dame is not made to glorify man’s handiwork. This rare piece of genius, built at a time of simple knowledge and machinery, bows its every limb to God, and lays all its boasts as nothing in front of He Who created its creators. Truly, in this troubled–yea, plagued–secular city of Paris, though man fails to worship God, even the rocks cry out!

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