The Way of BeautyAn Uneasy Pause

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On this weekend, Americans pause to give thanks for our bountiful gifts. Yet, the homeland is on edge with our collective eye riveted on Paris, Brussels, and beyond. 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame 

Two weeks ago, the French began their response to the Isis attacks in a way that spoke volumes to the question, "Where is God?"  The bells of Notre Dame in Paris tolled 129 times for the repose of the 129 souls, most of them Parisian youth, massacred two days earlier in the Isis attacks.  As of this writing, that number has risen to 130.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is not only the heart of Paris; geographically, it is also the central point in France. Since its foundation in the twelfth century, the cathedral has exercised a central role in political events.  In times of national distress and mourning, Parisians have flocked to Notre Dame for consolation, for the liturgical services and homilies, for its beautiful music and visual splendor-graces poured out on the congregants.

Though the French Revolution defined France as a secular state with no official ties to the Catholic Church or any faith, Notre Dame has remained the mother-church of France, always there to comfort her children.  On that November 15th Sunday evening, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois celebrated Mass in the cathedral with more than 9,000 attendees inside and thousands more standing outside in silence. The Liturgy was offered for those killed or wounded in the attacks.

Cardinal Vingt-Trois' homily rang out with a plea for hope and not hate.  In somber tones, steady and strong, he condemned the attacks. While he acknowledged the suffering palpable among the congregants, he asked those who could to enter into their anguish and pray for strength.  It was a moment of grace that revealed deep love of country by France's citizens who were embraced by Our Lady in her own home.

The New Year of Grace

This Advent Sunday, the Gospel of the new liturgical year paints a dark picture of a world gone mad.  It cautions the faithful to be alert, vigilant, and wise in the face of imminent danger.  One might be tempted to read into the Lucan passage current events and those yet to come. 

Advent is the richest of all the liturgical seasons-rich in hope, rich in beautiful music and symbolism, profligate with God's love to be revealed on Christmas Day.  This Sunday during the Liturgy, the Church Universal will pray the psalm refrain: "To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul" (Ps 25). 

For tomorrow, the Preface of Thanksgiving Day captures the Lord's goodness and our response in gratitude for all gifts from above: 

"Through your Word, you called all things into being, 

that you might bestow on us your love

reflected in the vastness of the universe

and the bounty of this earth.

You placed creation in our care,

Yet you alone sustain all life with the gentle dew of your Word

And the life-giving breath of the Spirit.

More in The Way of Beauty

Your gifts of nature have not exhausted your goodness,

For the fullness of your love is revealed in the sending of your Son.

Our hearts are moved to thankful praise . . . ." 

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