I’ve been reading many opinions from people all over the world about the fire at Notre Dame. They range from sadness due to the loss of its beauty – to indifference – to anger that it didn’t burn completely due to what it represents. Many people are using the “Phoenix rising from the ashes” allegory and feel that it’s the birth of a new beginning.
After reading these differing viewpoints, I thought it might be interesting to speak to those in spirit whose daily lives revolved around the cathedral and find out their thoughts. I asked Marc if he could please round-up some spirits who would be interested in speaking with us. He shook a finger at me, said “Right!” and was off like a flash.
Diane: Okay Marc, so while I was doing my meditations tonight, I could see quite a crowd of spirits gathering behind you. I guess that means that you were able to find some who either worked on Notre Dame or whose lives were influenced by it?
Marc: Yeah sure Diane. I found some spirits who were intimately involved with Notre Dame. They were excited to come and speak with us and let our readers know how they feel.
Diane: Great Marc! I’ll start typing if you can start with some questions. I guess that we need to introduce our first guest. She has been standing out front and while I was doing my meditations, I got a name for her so she appears very eager. She is calling herself “Cecile” and saying that she would like a title before it like “Madame”. She is holding a bucket and a scrub brush and I’m hearing “charwoman”. So I guess that she cleaned the cathedral as her occupation. Can you please ask her to step forward?
I asked Marc is he could find any women in the past who had a part to play in the daily running of the cathedral. I realized it wasn’t going to be in a position of authority, but she tells me that she felt her contribution was still important. Marc escorted her closer to me.
Marc: Is this okay Diane?
Diane: Yeah sure whatever is comfy for you guys. Marc do you want to start with some questions or should I?
Marc: Either way is hunky dory for me.
I thought that was an odd phrase for him to use but thought it was interesting when I looked up the origin and saw that Dave Bowie used it as a title for a studio album.
Diane: Well then Madame Cecile, you are telling me that you cleaned the stonework on the floors with a brush and you did other cleaning jobs around the church. I’m seeing that you were there during the early 20th century or thereabouts.
Marc brought her a chair as she was appearing in her seventies which is so sweet. I love how spirits keep in character.
Cecile: Yes Diane I was what you would call a cleaning woman for the cathedral. (There must be a term for that in French but I wasn’t getting it.) There were, of course, many of us.
Diane: How did you feel about that? Was it something that you did just for the wages or were you there for another purpose?
Cecile: I was a very religious woman and felt honored to be in the House of Our Lady as much as possible. I was very devout.
Diane: Now you are showing me a very plain outfit that you wore. Like a grey or dark blue dress without any pattern and an apron and cap. You are saying that this would have been normal for all the women who cleaned there?
Cecile: Yes we did not wear anything bright or flashy at any time. We were there to do a job and not be seen. We did not interfere with those who came to worship. We were always in the background.
Diane: You are telling me that the church and its functions were very important to you and your family. I’m seeing that your husband was also devout. Although your children by this time were out of the house, they still participated in events?
Cecile: Yes our family life revolved around the church and what was going on there. We went to mass almost every day (if not every day). There was a lot of gossip about many people there and that was something that all the cleaning woman used to discuss.
Diane: It seems that it was very hard work. I’m feeling that you had aches in your joints and your back was usually always in pain. Can we ask what your opinion is about the recent fire?
Cecile: Well as the physical Cecile, I would have been so disheartened by the tragedy. The spirit Cecile sees it in a positive light because I see it will bring the people of Paris together for a joint cause. The city has been fractured for too long. Whether you are religious or not, the people of Paris have grown up around the cathedral. It has always been there for them. Most of them, I’m not saying all of them, have pride that this structure exists in their city and that it receives so many visitors throughout the world. They may not be aware of it, but many of their ancestors have worked through the centuries on it, got married there and had their funeral services there. For many, like me, it was the core of their lives.
Marc: Okay now standing from where you are now in spirit, how do you feel about that?
Cecile: Feel about what?
Marc: Well devoting so much of your life to the church?
Cecile: Well at the time, there was no other path that I wanted to be on. I wasn’t a wealthy woman at all. The church and its activities filled my need for a fulfilling life other than my family. My faith got me through the rough parts of that life. Now in spirit, I understand that’s what I chose to experience as Cecile, and I haven’t any regrets.
Marc: Okay thanks very much, Madame Cecile.
Diane: Yes thank you very much Madame Cecile. Can we bring someone else forward Marc?
Marc is showing a father and son coming towards me. I saw them earlier during my meditations. They worked on the stained glass in the cathedral.
Diane: So you were training your son how to work in stained glass? That was your profession and you wanted to pass that onto your son? Your names please….
Matthieu: Well I’m Matthieu (Matthew in English) and my son is Robert. Yes, back then it was imperative that the work pass from one generation to the other. You had to be skilled in your craft. Someone had to show you how to do it. It was precision work. We couldn’t make a lot of mistakes because it would come out of our wages.
Diane: Marc, you have to start asking questions too?
Marc: Yeah when you let me get a word in Diane. You are being Miss Monopoly!
Diane: Oops sorry Marc…you are right, but I’m just so interested in hearing what they have to tell us.
Marc: Hey Diane, do you want to ask everyone if they were religious or not?
Diane: Oh yeah sure if they want to answer that?
Matthieu: Well yes, my family was Catholic and I more or less played along with it. I brought my family up in the church. To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have been able to get work at the time because they were the richest employers. I belonged to the guild and it was often easier to get by if you were Catholic. Personally, although I played the part, I didn’t have any deep calling for any kind of religion.
Robert: Yes Father, you REALLY played that part well! I remember getting scolded by you as a boy for not knowing my catechism and saying that we would be kicked out of the church if I didn’t smarten up!
They starting laughing about this!
Matthieu: Yes well I had to keep the stiff upper lip and play the role of the father of the house!
Marc: Did you enjoy the work? Was it something that you learned from your father as well?
Matthieu: Oh yes! That’s really how it was done. It was actually rather difficult to get into the level of work that we were doing. There was keen competition. You had to be sponsored by someone. You have to understand that craftspeople were very important back then. Before the Industrial Revolution, everything was done by hand. It pains me to see that now on earth, almost everything is done my machine. But that is progress I guess.
Marc: Robert, do you have any thoughts? What about the fire? What if anything does that mean to you?
Robert: Well I have to say that I’m glad that the church didn’t burn all the way and that the stained glass was saved. I know that many on earth have their reasons and see it as a representation of a religion that they feel is outdated, shamed and should go away. I’m not going to get into that kind of discussion, because I can see all those viewpoints myself. If I was in a physical life right now, I would be looking at those questions and wanting to find out my own answers. But speaking as Robert, who worked with my Dad on the cathedral and learned from him, I’m glad it’s still standing. Although my Father and I had our differences, I was proud of his skill and that we worked together on the glass. We knew that we had a skill that not many people had and that we trained for a long time to do the job. They weren’t going to let just anyone work on those windows. There were people who were working on them who really shouldn’t have been but then, it was often who you knew. We knew that we deserved to be there, and I’m proud that our work is still standing.
Marc: Okay thank you Matthieu and Robert.
Diane: I’m going to take a little break here while Marc brings up the next Spirit. I saw the first two groups in my meditation, but I haven’t seen anyone else except I know that we have a priest coming at some point. Okay Marc, whom do we have next please?
Marc: We have Father Benedict.
Marc brought forward a short man with thinning grey hair and glasses. He looked a little nervous and I think he was shy.
Diane: Hello Father Benedict (I think that they could also be called Canons but we’re using “Father” to make it easy. Can you please tell us what part you played in the history of Notre Dame?
Benedict: I was one of the many priests who worked at the cathedral. My speciality was hearing confessions.
Diane: Was that because you liked to do that or what?
Benedict: Well my superiors felt that I was good for the position because I could be stern with the penance, but I wasn’t too daunting for the parishioners. (He also mentioned that it was because of his smaller stature and he could make his voice sound very calm.)
Diane: But they couldn’t see you right?
Benedict: No they couldn’t see me but almost all the parishioners knew who we were. They went to confession a lot back then. They were told that they were sinners and that the road to salvation was through confession.
Marc: Okay so I have a question here. How did you feel about that? Did you really believe that the only way that they could reach God was through you?
Benedict: Well of course! That’s what my faith was about now wasn’t it? I wouldn’t have had a job if I didn’t believe that!
Marc: Well how do you feel about that now?
Benedict: Well now, of course, I know that there are many ways to reach your God or your Source – whatever you want to call it. You can look directly into a mirror for one and see yourself. It’s the same thing. Now I understand that there isn’t any difference. There was quite a lot of partitions back when I was working there – even between the priests. Some were more clever, richer and had better education. I really didn’t fit in there.
Diane: Yes you are telling me that after you passed over to spirit, you found out the reason that you got the job of confessor is because no one else wanted to do it. But they pretended that you excelled in it.
Benedict: Yes and actually, I think that inside, I knew that all along. They thought that I was slow on the uptake often, but I really wasn’t. I just didn’t want to admit it to myself.
Marc: So we have one more Spirit to speak with here. Can we ask you Benedict, what your feelings are on the fire?
Benedict: I spent most of my life there, so I’m saddened that it has seen this tragic event happen to it. It was my home. It’s where I felt comfortable even though, as I said earlier, I never actually felt that I fitted in there.
Marc: Why is that exactly?
Benedict: I wasn’t the smartest and I couldn’t always remember verses from the Bible that I was supposed to know or who said what when. I was a big book reader, but I often had other kinds of texts that I was interested in reading. I wasn’t what you would call a really devoted priest, but I did feel that I was my calling.
Marc: Well thank you very much Father Benedict for coming.
Diane: Okay Marc anyone else? Do we have someone like a Bishop?
Marc: Yes we have one in the back I think. Okay he is coming forward now.
Diane: I’m getting a name like Philippe so I’ll just go with that. He has a French last name like Ricault. Marc….questions please.
Marc: Okay Philippe, you were placed at somewhere around a Bishop or higher level when you were involved with Notre Dame?
Philippe: Yes that was my position.
Marc: How was that for you? Was it something that you enjoyed? What was your life like?
Philippe: It was a life of politics and trying to out manoeuver those around you.
Philippe: Yes. It was really a cut throat world to tell you the truth. I would liken it to the Borgias.
Diane: Oh gosh!
Philippe: It was what it was. I was from a wealthy family and my initial position in the church was paid for by my family. You weren’t going to rise very high unless you were rich. Where would you have gotten the eduction? If you were poor, you could stay at a certain level, but it would have been very hard to work your way up to where I was. It was a given. Everyone knew it.
Diane: So let me ask you this. With just about every organized religion throughout history, I would suffice to say there is a lot of “We are right” and “You are wrong” mentality. I know that many in France were persecuted because they weren’t Catholic. You must have been part of that. How do you feel about that now?
Philippe: Well yes, of course, I was part of it. That was my job – to tell them we were right and they were wrong. Otherwise my whole social structure would have collapsed. We wanted to keep on top of the ladder so to speak. We didn’t want to lose everything that we had.
Diane: There must have been some during that time who truly felt that their cause was just though for religious reasons?
Philippe: Of yes, there were many of those, but I wasn’t one of them.
Marc: Do you feel differently now?
Philippe: You mean from a spirit viewpoint? Well yes I do. I know now that no one is any better than anyone else and that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. They must choose their own path of evolution. No one in Source is here to judge or condemn you. You are on your own path to follow it as you please.
Marc: So did you have any regrets about condemning others?
Philippe: Oh we did more than just condemn them. We physically abused them and those who didn’t believe were sometimes murdered depending on how much trouble they were causing us. Like I said, it was a cut throat world and many people may not want to think that this kind of thing went on but it did. It was the same in Rome and even worse. I travelled a lot because I had independent means and I saw what was going on in Italy. Made us look like amateurs.
Diane: Gosh that was really interesting! Marc anymore questions for the Bishop?
Marc: Yes, I don’t think we asked you how you felt about the fire?
Philippe: To me, I don’t have an opinion about it one way or the other. Notre-Dame was the means for my existence that time, but I don’t harbor any fond memories of the place really. It’s not that I wish it harm, but it isn’t really in my thoughts one way or the other.
Diane: Marc, okay I think that we are running out of time. I guess we’ve gotten some interesting ideas about how they feel about their pasts at the cathedral and the fire. Can you please thank them all for coming and let them know that I’m sorry that we didn’t get a chance to speak with all of them!
Marc: That’s okay Diane. I told them that they might not have a chance to speak and they are fine with it.
Diane: Okay great! What is your opinion about all of this Marc?
Marc: Well I guess that I would rather let them speak for themselves. I’m just the interviewer this time.
Diane: I think that’s a very wise decision Marc.
© Bolan-Beaty Boogie
April 19, 2019