triduum paschale

The fire at Notre Dame in Paris last Monday was not the only raging fire that claims attention. Friday, an opinion piece talked about the promises of money for restoration of this relic, while so many across the rich nations of the world are becoming impoverished. It was stunning to see how fast philanthropic money valves could be turned on for rebuilding Notre Dame. Some of it could flow back from fiscal paradises—money made not only on perfumes, shoes, or tshirts, but also the sale of armaments, technology, power sources, banking…. The money of great fortunes is safely squirreled away, but some of it is proclaimed readily available for the reconstruction of a place visited by 13 million people annually. Notre Dame’s magic reverberates more broadly than ever as everyone confusedly grasps after some consistence, some congruence of heart and mind, but is left only with the touch and feel of relics. What can it still possibly mean today to restart a fire in the middle of the night, light the Paschal candle from it, affix to this candle the five incense cones that figure Christ’s five wounds, and light from it all the candles brought by believers, while singing lumen Christi? Last Friday, bells went silent and statues of the messiah and saints were hidden under purple cloth that contrasted with the gloomy interiors of most churches. What can it mean to read Isaiah (“He was despised, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”) or the passion story according to John?