On Monday of Holy Week we saw the huge scale fire of Notre Dame Cathedral
in Paris and many of us were sad to see such a beautiful building and
place of worship, hundreds of years old, burn in such a way, with many
‘treasures’ lost to the flames. Thankfully it could have
been a lot worse. No lives were lost and much of the building remains.
Certainly Holy Week and the focus on Christ’s passion would have
had an unexpected twist to it for those who regularly worship in the
cathedral and maybe those beyond. Prayers were said amongst groups of
people outside in the darkness as the flames licked the night sky.
On Easter Day, resurrection day when Christ is risen, there was further
bad news, this time much worse, when we heard of the bombings in Sri
Lanka of three churches, where people were celebrating Easter and the
further bombings in restaurants and hotels. It’s estimated over
250 people died in the explosions, both Sri Lankan and foreign nationals
and seemingly contrasts the joy of new life and resurrection that Easter
Joy brings as we celebrate Jesus rising from the dead, as the worshippers
in those three churches were celebrating this same joy in their Easter
Ten years ago another cathedral fell in a devastating earthquake that
killed hundreds of thousands of people. This time it was Notre Dame
de l’Assomption in down town Port-au-Prince on the former French
colony of Haiti. Not a mediaeval gothic cathedral, but an early 20th
century one, but nonetheless a cathedral important to so many Haitians.
Unlike the former with I think rightful talk of re-building, the latter,
ten years after its destruction, is seeing little chance of being re-built.
That’s not surprising in a country where poverty is so high and
more immediate problems are education, basic nutrition, health care,
sanitation and the list goes on.
it seems that many Haitians would love to have their cathedral again,
in whatever way it might look; so many were baptised there, had their
first communions, attended Sunday Mass; but it’s not going to
happen any time soon.
However, what we see in all three situations, in all the varying levels
of brokenness and devastation, is a sense of hope. Human nature can
be naturally resilient anyway, but on top of this for many Christians
there is the hope of new life. We see signs of new and better life in
our present lives. We see people recover from physical illness. We see
people recover from mental illness. Homeless people finding housing.
We see people overcome addictions.
In the above scenarios with all the pain and the sorrow and the continued
suffering, we see signs of hope as people come together, determined
to re-build. Re-build lives, re-build trust, re-build communities. In
Sri Lanka we hear of mosques offering their sacred spaces to Catholic
Christians for the celebration of mass, with their own church buildings
faced with the task of re-building and church attendance considered
For those who are scarred with injury or with the loss of loved ones,
the wounds can heal as broken flesh and broken hearts knit together.
Just as Jesus’ broken heart and broken flesh knit together, as
death turned to life.
And so, may we and all the suffering take heart that Christ in his wounds
of crucifixion, shares in our sufferings. And in our wounded world,
may we with hope turn to Jesus’ wounds and with him rise to new
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Fr. Carl Peters
The Clergy House
Tel: 0191 680 3875
Other Contact Telephone Numbers
Churchwarden - David 0191 3789718
P.C.C. secretary - Carolyn – 0191 6803875
Brancepeth, St. Catherine's
Reader – Liz – 0191 3731554,
Churchwarden - Joe - 0191 3739927
- Lesley Baxter - for enquiries on
St. John's Hall Meadowfield