Cathedral spires and towers are built to point people to God. For centuries church bells have rung a call to prayer and worship. In these days of devastation in Christchurch we have witnessed the collapse of many structures. Now destroyed buildings only days ago housed our families and sheltered our work. The two Christchurch cathedrals have lost spire, towers and bells.
In this modern age we shy away from ancient symbols calling us to ritual worship. Yet our devastated cathedrals are speaking in these days with a new voice.
In their fallen state, our city Cathedrals are reminding us to look to where they once confidently pointed, rather than to focus on their passing physical beauty. Our Cathedrals pointed us to God.
Our buildings may now appear destroyed, but our God is alive.
Even for Cantabrians who might never enter these holy places for prayer, these Churches are vivid symbols of all that is stable and sacred.
The Cathedral builders founded their lives on the conviction that God was real and tangible in earthly events and personal encounters. Our Christian ancestors knew that God loved them. They constructed their Cathedrals to be physical, visible and audible signs of the beauty of earthly and eternal life with God.
Without the usual central city spires towers and bells calling us to live in love of God and neighbour, what signs and symbols do we have to direct us to what is essential?
Fortunately, these painful hours have been marked by an outpouring of love and support. Locally neighbours are reaching out to strangers. From the ends of the earth practical support and assurances of good-will are reaching our region. These actions speak powerfully of the love of God.
In these days we are seeing anew what is essential. The new plasma screen and fashion clothes are forgotten as we realize that we are created for love of neighbour and stranger and even the enemy. We are created for love of God. Where there is love, there is God.
• Father John O’Connor, Parish Priest of the Catholic parishes of Our Lady of Victories Sockburn, St. Joseph’s Darfield and St Therese of Lisieux, Chatham Islands.