Perhaps no other appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary has captured people’s hearts and imaginations like those she made to Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France in 1858. Our Lady appeared eighteen times that year to an impoverished, uneducated fourteen-year-old girl who lived with her family in an old jail. Since that time, more than five thousand healings are reported to have taken place in the spot where the Blessed Mother appeared; sixty-four of them the Catholic Church has proclaimed “miraculous.”
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I have never been to Notre Dame and like fellow Catholics from all over the world, I could not wait to experience her glory. Our visit will be tragically different now, like so many others who came here to see this magnificent witness to our Catholic Faith. But I know it will be no less poignant. To experience Notre Dame on Good Friday — battered and bruised as she is — will easily remind us of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Our Savior, and the salvation He offers to each of us if we choose to accept Him.
Just as the Crown of Thorns was spared from the inferno, so too does the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ spare us from the furnace of flames known as Hell.
In the end, Notre Dame is just a structure, albeit a stunning structure and sign in our fractured and broken world. And most likely she will be rebuilt. But, she is limited and can only reside in one city and in one country.
However, Our Lord’s promise of eternal life, breathed from the altar of Notre Dame for hundreds of years, is omnipresent, and can live in each one of us. And though the sorrowful reality of this loss cuts deeply, the miracle of Easter is alive in this earthly devastation, reminding us that all is made new in the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Easter Sunday message , as well as the message of Notre Dame’s horrible fire, is this: “Look forward and have hope! ”
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