On Saturday, June 15, 2019, Michel Aupetit, Archbishop of Paris, celebrated a Mass on the occasion of the Dedication of Notre Dame Cathedral. It was the first Mass since the fire two months ago.
Homily of Archbishop Aupetit
Dedication comes from dedicatio which means consecration. The dedication is the consecration of a church to divine worship. What we celebrate with the dedication each year is the deep reason why Notre Dame Cathedral was built: to reflect man’s impetus towards God.
The cathedral is born of the faith of our ancestors. It shows confidence in the goodness of Christ, his love stronger than hatred, his life stronger than death and it shows the tenderness of our parents for the Virgin Mary, his mother, whom he entrusted to us just before dying on the cross.
This cathedral is born of the Christian hope which perceives beyond a small personal life centered on oneself a grand project at the service of all, going well beyond a single generation.
It is also born of charity, since it is open to all; it is the refuge of the poor and the excluded who have found here their protection. The Hôtel-Dieu, which was always associated with the cathedral, was the sign of this unconditional welcome of the poor and the sick.
Are we ashamed of the faith of our ancestors? Are we ashamed of Christ?
Yes, this cathedral is a place of worship; that is its only purpose. There are no tourists in Notre-Dame, because this term is often pejorative and does not do justice to this mystery that prompts humanity to seek something beyond itself. This cultural good, this spiritual wealth, cannot be reduced to a patrimonial good. This cathedral, a common work at the service of all, is only the reflection of the living stones that are all those who enter it.
Can ignorance or ideology really separate culture from worship? The etymology itself shows the strong link that exists between the two. I say it with force: a culture without worship becomes the opposite of culture. One need only take note of the abyssal religious ignorance of our contemporaries that excludes any notion of the divine and the very name of God in the public sphere in the name of a secularism that excludes any visible spiritual dimension.
Like any building, the cathedral includes a cornerstone that carries it in its entirety. This cornerstone is Christ. If we removed this stone, this cathedral would collapse. It would be an empty shell, a case without jewelry, a skeleton without life, 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 come together in the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the alliance between the transcendent and the immanent (Heaven and Earth) is truly accomplished. It is here and now in this cathedral, in the Eucharist, that this alliance is made; when the flesh of Christ shared by all opens us to eternal life.
Needless to say that we are happy to celebrate this Mass to render to God what is due to God and to fulfill man’s sublime vocation.
(French Bishops’ Conference)