Wasting our lives and glorifying God

Wasting our lives and glorifying God
Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say - God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is. ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, August 10

Monday, November 8, 2010

Notre Dame

On our last day in Paris (we left via overnight train for the Italian coast) we visited Notre Dame.  This was actually not on my must see list when we went to Paris, even though The Hunchback of Notre Dame was one of my favorite books in highschool.  I remember weeping for an hour after I finished it.  But, when we decided to take the night train out of Paris we ended up with an extra day to take in some extra sites.  Oh so glad it ended up this way.  Notre Dame was definitely a highlight of Paris for me.

The facade of Notre Dame is so interesting.  There are statues of the Kings and Apostles in so much detail.  One is rather odd.  A saint holding his own head in his hands.  The story goes that when Christianity was advancing across Europe the Bishop of Paris, St. Denis was beheaded.  He got up from the beheading, tucked his head under his arm and headed north.  He stopped at a fountain and rinsed it off.  Then continued on until he found just the right place to go to heaven.

Also, there are the Kings of Judah, which have their own interesting head story.  During the French Revolution (1789-1793) people mistook these Biblical kings for French Kings.  In a rage over oppression rebels stormed the church crying "Off with their heads!"  They lopped off the heads of all the Kings of Judah!  Thankfully, a school teacher lived nearby who had more sense than the masses at that point.  He picked up all the heads and buried them in his backyard.  They stayed there until 1977!  They were accidentally found!  Can you imagine?!  The church had since been repaired.  So, the heads now stand in the Cluny Museum a few blocks from Notre Dame.

In characteristic Rick Steve's humor he finds something hilarious in the most austere things.  From Rick Steves' Paris:  "The Central Portal.  It's the end of the world, and Christ sits on the throne of judgement (just under the arches, holding his hands up).  Below him, an angel and a demon weigh souls in the balance.  The good people stand to the left, looking up to heaven.  The naughty ones to the right are chained up and led off to....a six-hour tour of the Louvre on a hot day."

Patron Saint of the Orient

Joan of Arc
One thing that constantly amazed me about the Cathedrals were the details.  Every. Single. Little. Minute. Detail.  It's breathtaking!  And it was done for the glory of God!  It was not to impress men because so many things are not even visible by men.  Up on the ceiling, on top of the roof, under every beam there is a magnificent carving, etching, stained glass, or some other amazing thing people are still discovering.  Who would go through so much work and toil and money for stuff that most people will never see and certainly never appreciate?  Someone who was concerned, not with their own legacy, but with the glory of God!

Imagine this: They broke ground on Notre Dame in 1163.  Their great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren attended the dedication mass two centuries later!

I cannot even grasp the kind of faith, vision, and spirit it took to undertake such a thing that you had no hope of seeing the completion in your lifetime.  I like projects I can pick up and finish in one sitting. I don't even want to undertake something that will take me a week or month to finish.  That's why a full-sized quilt overwhelms me to make.  The Cathedrals?  Well, they are just in a league of their own!

The inscription says:

1914 - 1918

St. Thomas Aquinas
Here we stopped to pray for the unborn, recalling St. Thomas appearing to Dr. Adasevic.  If you have never read the doctor's conversion or his encounter with St. Thomas Aquinas, please go read it.  It is truly profound.

The altar piece
When we walked into Notre Dame Gana and I sensed the presence of God so strongly, we actually started to cry. Throughout our self-guided tour we kept feeling led to pray for the unborn and for an end to abortion.  When we signed the guestbook, we were still in that place of intercession.

One thing that really impressed us was that although a tourist hot-spot, it was still very much a holy place.  We came in at the end of morning mass.  As we walked the around the church we noticed enclosed glass rooms.  These are the confessionals, which we did not photograph--because they were all being used!  We saw people praying and weeping.  So beautiful that reconciliation is offered at all times even in the midst of the crowds.  There was always a safe place where sinners could meet grace.  I think our Protestant churches could learn a few things.

Next post:  The Bell Tower!  SANCTUARY!!!!!


Claire said...

What an incredible place! Thank you for the link to the former abortionist's testimony, as well. I had never read that.

Being raised Catholic, I never felt that reconciliation you speak of. When I became Christian, and realized I could go straight to God with my confession, that is when true reconciliation began.

Gombojav Tribe said...

I appreciate direct access to Abba Father, too, Claire! Yet....don't you sometimes--just sometimes, need a "Jesus with skin on"? I mean, sometimes pouring my heart out to my mother, sister, friend, pastor or even Gana and having that person extend grace and forgiveness to me and take the time to pray for me works more good in my soul than hiding my sins and fears away.

Maybe in the Protestant church it has other names....."accountability" or "confrontation" or "connection" etc. But is it not the same thing? One person agreeing to be a conduit of the Father's grace to another and carrying the other's burdens to the feet of Jesus.

Lady Dorothy said...

I just went to your link about Dr. Adasevic's conversion. I can't think of anything to write. I can't even cry. My heart is thumping in my chest so hard it hurts.

Karen Joy said...

What a beautiful post, Daja! I'm in tears! All of what you describe, and how you describe it... I will say it again, I never had much desire to go to France until reading your posts on your trip!!

I love Rick Steves. He seems the epitome of "good natured."

And, are those fresh wreaths under the inscription to the WWI dead? I find that very touching.

I did my high school senior research paper on Gothic architecture, and I, too, was awed by the idea of undertaking a project that you KNEW you would not see completed in your lifetime. And, all done for the absolute glory of God! Such crafting of detail and excellence in every teensy bit! I love it, and do think that, indeed, we Protestants could learn a thing or two about sacrificing time and money and skill to create such a glorious home in which God's presence can dwell, and in which His beloved people can come and worship!!

And... I was reading your last comment, and it brought to mind communion at church yesterday. We only celebrate communion once a month... Our pastor encourages anyone who has ought against anyone else to go and confess and seek forgiveness from that friend or family member. My dear husband always finds something for which he can confess to me, the slightest of offenses that most of the time, I don't even remember! I don't confess -- nor, to my shame, see my need to -- most of the time. But, yesterday, I humbled myself and confessed something that was hard, and heartfelt, and much needed. Oh, the joy and love and relief as he extended his forgiveness and blessing and love to me!!!! It was glorious, even though I expected it. Not quite the same as Catholic confession, but I do agree with you: Sometimes, it's what we need -- to humble ourselves and confess with our own mouths to someone else, not just the Father.

Love you.

Gombojav Tribe said...

Yes, Karen, FRESH WREATHS! That's why we had to take a picture of it! So very touching indeed!

Anonymous said...

What a bless-ING to see these pictures & read your commentary, Daja! Oh, what a blessing. I am set to go to bed, with a heavy heart I am turning over to Our Lord because I can't carry it anymore, and I am taking these pictures to bed with me in my mind. These pictures are light, airy, beautiful, a blessing... Our Lord gladly trades them for my heart. I know He does. He is much stronger than I am.

Thank you for being the Lord's instrument by posting these pictures, Daja. I love you for that... and for many other things as well.

God bless you~ Andrea

Melanie said...

"Mary, pray for us"

Daja, I am curious as to why you would write such a thing and if you really mean it, and also, does no one else have a problem with this? The Scriptures tell us that there is one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ
(1st Timothy 2:5).

Just asking, do you believe that praying to Mary is something that Christians should be doing?

Melanie said...

"Mary, pray for us"

Daja, I am curious as to why you would write such a thing and if you really mean it, and also, does no one else have a problem with this? The Scriptures tell us that there is one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ
(1st Timothy 2:5).

Just asking, do you believe that praying to Mary is something that Christians should be doing?

Gombojav Tribe said...

I'm surprised how many Protestants (myself included!) have used that Scripture to explain to Catholics why they should not seek the intercession of saints when we have no qualms about asking one another for prayer. If I were to ask you to pray for me you would not say that you wouldn't citing "there is only one mediator." No, we happily pray for one another, believing in the power of agreement.

Catholics believe in a doctrine of the communion of saints. Which means that when we join with Christ, we also join ourselves to His mystical body--the Church! I also believe this. With that as the foundation, Catholics believe that the supernatural power of Christ that binds us in unity is greater than time and space. I also believe this. Continuing from there Catholics believe that just because someone dies it does not mean that they are oblivious to the cares and concerns of the rest of the Body. I also believe this, because we are surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses while we run this race the Bible says. What do we think these witnesses are doing? Christianity is not a spectator sport! LOL! I believe they are rooting for us, praying for us, cheering us on! Why cannot we not believe that they are praying for us? We know that praying goes on in heaven because the Bible says that Jesus prays for us.

By asking the intercession of the saints one is not worshipping them or believing that one has to go through them to reach the Father. It is simply "calling in the reinforcements"! :-) It's asking them to pray for us in the same way we ask the Body of Christ that we can see (you know the ones we meet with every Sunday) to pray for us.

Now, I don't think that Christians have to do this or even that they should. But, I think that they CAN do this.

Ari said...

Heh heh! I have no qualms about Christians asking one another for prayer because we're alive. Mary was woman who had sin like any of us, and who is now dead as a doornail; whether or not she's cheering for me right now, I wouldn't try to contact her and ask her to pray for me, any more than I'd try writing letters to you or my mother or Mother Theresa or Ronald Reagan (or any other human) seriously asking you/her/him to pray for me, after you've/she/he has passed on. :-p Nice pics anyway!

Gombojav Tribe said...

Those who are joined to Christ are not dead, only what we see is dead. They are very much alive and well. And according to the Bible the fact that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses we are supposed run our race better. Whether you ask for their intercession is beside the point, really. The fact that they are watching and it is supposed to matter to us. I guess we each have to ponder why it's supposed to matter and we are to do with that information.

Gombojav Tribe said...

(I don't know what happened to the comment I just left. :-( So, I have to try to remember it and type it all over again!)

Upon reflection and some conversations with Gana, I think I need to clarify some things. As a Protestant I always misunderstood asking the intercession of saints. I took it for idol worship or something. But, upon reading some Catholic writers I started to understand the doctrine of the communion of saints. Everyone that is in Christ is really in Christ and we are one. When we take communion on Sunday morning we are acknowledging that unity--we are one with people all over the globe who are also receiving Christ's body and blood. Now that may or may not take more faith to believe that I am one with someone on the other side of the world whom I've never met than to believe I am one with someone who has already gone to heaven, because at least in heaven (where there are not the earthly bounderies) there is no space or time.

All this is to say that I am not encouraging anyone to do something with which they feel uncomfortable, nor am I saying that it is a part of my everyday life to ask the intercession of the saints. BUT, I am saying that it something I have come to understand. It is no longer a theological deal breaker between me and my Catholic friends.

With much grace,

Sara said...

Beautiful photos!

I do agree with Melanie on the point of (not) praying to Mary. Nowhere in scripture is prayer to saints commanded or condoned. Secondly, prayer to dead people, saints or not, is forbidden.
Any conclusion to pray to a dead person would be extra-biblical, coming up with a practice that is completely not permitted in scripture.
Accountability, etc, to fellow believers is a different matter because scripture does make a distinction between believers that have died and those still here living, on the earth.

Allison said...

I realize this comment may not even be read because this is such an old post, but I happened upon it today and had to add in a bit about prayer to "dead people".

We, as Catholics, are not praying TO anyone but God. When we talk to Mary or the Saints, we are asking THEM to pray for US. Just as you would ask your friends or family to pray for you.

Let's say that you were really struggling, and you asked me today to pray for you. I gladly offer my prayers to God for you, but because of my sinfulness and because of all the distractions of the world my prayers obviously lack some strength.

Now, let's say that I die tomorrow knowing that you asked for my prayers. Do you think that I couldn't still come before God and bring your petitions to Him now that I'm IN HEAVEN!?! Might my prayers have more fervor and strength since I am no longer tied to the things of the world and my soul is no longer weighed with sin?

Mary is even more special in her ability to bring our weak, imperfect prayers to her Son. Remember the Wedding at Cana where she asked Jesus to perform His first miracle? He was reluctant, but He did it because his MOTHER asked Him to! Mary wants nothing more than to point us to her Son, and she, as a loving mother, wants what is best for all of us - her spiritual children (brothers and sisters of Christ).

No human being was or is closer to Jesus than Mary. She carried Him in her WOMB! If we are going to ask anyone to pray for us, why not the mother of our Lord? :)

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