Notre Dame de Chartres

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/07/29 at 12:00 AM

Perhaps the most spectacular church in the entire world is the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres. Located about an hour from Paris, the current building, which was constructed between 1194 and 1250 is actually the 5th church building on the site.
This church is really the greatest example of French Gothic architecture, replete with flying buttresses, soaring spires, extraordinary sculptures, and some of the most noteworthy and beautiful stained glass windows in the entire world.
Wonderfully well ordered and beautifully coherent in all of its element, this church is a masterpiece of the medieval mind and an incredible testament to what man is capable of accomplishing when his aim is to glorify God.
From the Middle Ages Chartres Cathedral has been an important and popular pilgrimage site because it houses the Sancta Camisa: the tunic worn by the Blessed Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.
Amazingly, even though this church has burned down and been rebuilt several times, the Sancta Camisa has never been damaged.
But perhaps even more amazing still is the speed with which Chartres Cathedral has been rebuilt whenever it has been damaged or destroyed by fire. Again, this is due in large part to the devotion of the people of that time and place.
With limited money and certainly a lot less technology than we have today, the good people of central France relied on their faith in building this grandest of the great Gothic cathedrals.
And in this church they proved that, if we have our hearts and our minds focused on God, if we make God our highest priority in life, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish by His grace. Thus, this church is a great testament of man’s love for God.
Both our epistle and Gospel today speak of that ever-important virtue of charity.
In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul calls us to “walk worthy of the vocation in which [we]are called,” by practicing the virtues of humility and mildness, patience, and in particular,charity.
In our Gospel our Lord reminds us that the greatest commandment of the law is to “love theLord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind,” andthe second is to “love they neighbor as thyself.”
After proclaiming these two great laws of charity, our Lord makes an audacious statement.He says: “On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the Prophets.” Inmany ways I think this is the most important line of this whole passage!
In saying this to the Pharisees, our Lord is claiming that the entire Mosaic law and all theteachings of the Prophets – basically the whole content of the Jewish faith – is derived fromthese 2 commands!
So in other words, the entire basis of a Judeo-Christian understanding of morality and of howlife should be lived derives from this understanding that God must be loved and honored above all else, and that our relationships with others must be governed by the practice of treating others like ourselves.
Hopefully, this doesn’t come as a shock to any of you, but rather makes complete sense.
However, I doubt that ordering one’s life such that God is the highest priority and that one’sneighbors are given as much respect as one gives to one’s self, is really the practice of most people in our society today.
The scourge of modernism and rampant secularism have effectively dethroned God in the hearts of most men so that modern man tends to worship himself more than anything else these days.
The problem is that when we fail to make God our highest priority, failing to love Him and honor Him as we are called to do by divine law, disorder creeps into our lives.
If we cannot get the most important priority right, then chances are that we will fail in getting our other priorities straight as well.
Moreover, when we fail to love and treat others as ourselves, then we eventually begin to see others as less than ourselves, enabling us to dehumanize them and sin against them in any way that we please.
But even worse yet, when a large segment of a society fails to carry out these two greatest of commandments, then the society dooms itself to moral chaos and strips itself of any possibility for unity on moral issues.
This is precisely why there is such division in our country today on issues like abortion and same-sex unions. We will never find unity on these issues as long as a large portion of our society refuses to believe and follow the laws of God.
Every time we have an election in this country, the media ramps up the rhetoric on the divisions between Democrats and Republicans, between “red” states and “blue” states.
But I submit to you that the real division in our country is not based on political affiliation. The real division is between those who truly love God and therefore seek to follow His divine law, and those who don’t love God – and consequently have no objective moral compass.
With this in mind, I think it good that we each examine ourselves on this count. Ask yourself: do I truly love God as I should – with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Is glorifying God with the way I live my life my absolute highest priority?
My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a time and place in which there is increasing hostility toward those who seek to live by the laws of God. Slowly – but surely – the laws of our country are becoming more and more anti-God.
So what are we to do? Well, first we mustn’t lose hope or be disheartened! For it is in times and places like our own that saints are made. Thus we should rejoice that our blessed Lord has allowed us to live here and now.
But even more importantly, we must cling to our Catholic faith and beliefs with all the more tenacity than ever before, living out the tenets of our Faith with integrity and courage, and looking for opportunities to share our faith with others.
Most importantly, we must follow these 2 greatest commands given to us by our Lord today, loving Him above all else and our neighbor as ourselves.
In doing this we will be ordering our lives properly, walking worthy in the vocation given to us. And if we do it well, we may even become saints – whose souls are even more magnificent and beautiful in their orderliness than any church that man can build.
May our Lady, good St. Joseph, and all the angels and saints pray for us that we might indeed become worthy of the promises of Christ!
15 September 2013

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: