It was like watching the death of a family member.  And nothing I could do would help.  Driving home Monday I heard the news about the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral while listening to KLIX.  First reports were of a fire on the roof.

By the time I got home and switched on the TV it was a sudden jolt of profound sadness.  There are many great cathedrals in Europe.  Some long abandoned, some harmed in war and some empty because no one any longer attends church. 

It spurs a revived interest in God.  In faith.  In hope of salvation.

The fire symbolized the end of the Christian Age.  Thousands watched from the streets and hundreds of millions mourned as I did, watching from afar.  A distant voice explained the crumbling church was a tourist attraction, a monument to French history and for Roman Catholics central to the faith.  The latter is also a crumbling edifice.

There are two outcomes.  The church, the cornerstone of which was laid during the Crusades, gets rebuilt with some fine modern materials.  The tourists come.  The French make money from the tourists and pictures are taken of the fine historical reproduction.  It’s artificial.  Like so much modernity.

Then there is the other possibility.  The people watching, Catholic and even Protestant, realize the greater emptiness.  It spurs a revived interest in God.  In faith.  In hope of salvation.

History is filled with omens.  We can dismiss many of them as coincidence.  Or we can ascribe grand events as a harbinger of purification.  Sometimes portents warn of even greater calamity, although.  Remember, history is filled with war and suffering and deprivation.  And then humanity rebounds.  Notre Dame has born witness for a millennia.