Mourning Notre Dame de Paris: A Brief Liturgical Perspective

Holy Week, la semaine sainte, began Sunday; yesterday evening Notre Dame de Paris lost her roof and spire to flames. The footage of her spire toppling left me hollow, ready to retch. I wonder that this has occurred in our lifetime, to gaze at the height of the landmark cathedral that has endured since the Middle Ages and watch her soaring roofline burned to ash.

The flames were doused as night fell; we appreciate the hundreds of pompiers who worked to stop the destruction. Ave Maria was sung in the twilight by some who looked on, though few knew the words. Even the morning after, it is evident that the spirit of mourning will linger long after the smoke and ashes drift away. Notre Dame's spire was a lenten candle snuffed out. Most of the world recognizes that an enduring symbol and cultural heritage has been stricken; we ultimately grieve the fracture of an enduring testament to faith.

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Gratitude for Generations

Bonjour, les amis! I've been at a foreign language teaching conference in Texas (ACTFL), where I was thrilled to learn about the current state of French education in the U.S. I also appreciated the opportunity to glean ideas for classroom and home teaching--I'll share the best of what I learned next week.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving! I cherish this holiday. It is personally relevant because my great, great grandma (who lived in Massachusetts until her death at 104) shared that our family geneology descends from John Tilley Howland--the fellow who fell off The Mayflower during a mid-voyage storm but was rescued by rope. How's that for a tenuous family thread?! He went on to be the second-longest living survivor of The Mayflower, and the home where he and his wife Elizabeth lived is the only original pilgrim home remaining in Plymouth today.

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Remembering Easter in France: Church, Chimes, & Chocolate

This week between Palm Sunday and Easter, Holy Week, brings back my memories of Easter (Pâques) in France. During my first exchange in France ten years ago, I lived on the campus of a Protestant theology school in Aix-en-Provence. (That's unusual for a homestay situation, but my host parents were employed there.) On Easter morning, a French friend drove me to an outdoor Easter sunrise service in a nearby village; the sunrise was glorious and I appreciated the opportunity to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with a small group of wonderful French families.

Afterwards, my host maman, host soeur and I had lunch at a friend's home where we enjoyed a meal featuring a succulent roast lamb--the first time I'd ever tasted lamb. (I'd been vegetarian for a few months before I lived in France, but chose to expand my eating preferences to educate my taste buds and to make meal preparation easier on my host family. I've eaten meat ever since.) It was far better than the mutton (aged sheep) I'd eaten in England!

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