Homily delivered by Mgr Michel Aupetit : mass celebrated on the feast of the dedication of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris
June 15, 2019
Homélie de Mgr Michel Aupetit – Messe de la fête de la dédicace de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
Homilía de Monseñor Aupetit, Misa de la Fiesta de la Dedicación de la Catedral de Notre Dame de París.
Dedication comes from the Latin word dedicatio, which means consecration. Dedication is the act of consecrating a church for divine worship. What we annually celebrate by this dedication is the underlying reason why Notre Dame was built, which was to demonstrate man’s yearning towards God.
This Cathedral was born of the faith of our ancestors. It demonstrates their confidence in the goodness of Christ, in his love which is stronger than hatred, in his life which is stronger than death and also the tender devotion of our forefathers for the Virgin Mary, his mother, his most precious jewel, whom he entrusted unto us just before expiring on the cross.
This Cathedral was born of Christian Hope, which looks far beyond our poor self-centred personal lives to enter into a magnificent project conceived in the service of all and extending far beyond a single generation.
Notre Dame was born also of Charity, since it open to all. It is the refuge of the victims of poverty and exclusion, who have found there a source of protection. The Hôtel-Dieu hospice, always so closely linked to the cathedral, betokened this unconditional welcoming of the poor and the sick.
Are we ashamed of the faith of our forebears ? Are we ashamed of Christ ?
This Cathedral is indeed a place of worship : that is its one and only purpose. There are no tourists at Notre Dame, for the expression is frequently a pejorative one and takes no account of the mystery urging men to come here seeking something beyond themselves. This place devoted to the cult of the divine, this spiritual heirloom, cannot be seen merely as part of our secular heritage. Notre Dame is a common treasure in the service of all, and is but the reflection of the living stones which are all those who enter.
Is it possible, through ignorance or for ideological reasons, to mark a distinction between culture and the cult of the divine ? The very etymology of the words shows the close link between the two. Let me say clearly that any culture divorced from a cult of the divine shows a lack of culture. One has only to consider the abysmal religious ignorance of our contemporaries, caused by the abolition of any notion of the divine and of the very name of God in the public domain, justified by a form of secularism devoid of any visible spiritual dimension.
Like any other building, the Cathedral has a cornerstone supporting the rest of the edifice. The cornerstone is Christ himself. If we were to withdraw this stone, the whole building would collapse.It would be a mere empty shell, a showcase without a jewel, a lifeless skeleton, a body without a soul.
The Cathedral is the fruit of human genius. It is the masterpiece of man.
The human person is the fruit of divine genius. It is the masterpiece of God.
When the two are united in the person of Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly man, we witness the alliance between the transcendant and the immanent, between heaven and earth. This alliance is achieved here and now in this Cathedral, each time the eucharist is celebrated, when the body of Christ is shared by all and opens the way to eternal life.
Need we say how happy we are to celebrate this mass, rendering unto God what is God’s and unto man his sublime vocation.
Mgr Michel Aupetit
Archbishop of Paris