This Mother’s Day, people around the world have been reminded of one of the globe’s most iconic homages to a matriarch — Notre Dame Cathedral, damaged by fire last month in Paris.
Notre Dame translates as “Our Lady,” a reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus who commands a central role in the Catholic faith. French President Emmanuel Macron pledged that the badly burned cathedral will be rebuilt in five years, which we doubt. Repairing such an ancient structure is a formidable task, and the French, God bless them, aren’t known for speed.
The cathedral took nearly 200 years to finish — a project that started in the 12th century, with numerous alterations in subsequent years.
The people who built Notre Dame had to think many generations into the future, committed to creating big legacies they couldn’t hope to see in their own lifetimes.
Wouldn’t our political and civic culture benefit from such long-term thinking, informed by a horizon long past the next election?
In this way, Notre Dame, though charred and battered, continues to call us to something greater.