PARIS, FRANCE. Because I am in Paris, a city filled with amazing cathedrals, and because I am a Catholic, I felt compelled to attend mass at Notre Dame this Sunday. It was the international service in which the first reading was read in English, the second Spanish, and the gospel, French. I really appreciate how the clergy at Notre Dame chose to include a mass in their schedule that incorporates many languages because it allows for greater understanding and coming together in faith. Although I could not understand most of the homily, or other parts of the service that were spoken in French, I still thoroughly enjoyed the mass. It was very peaceful (expect when the extremely loud organ was played), an atmosphere that can be difficult to attain in a city as busy as Paris. I found it very interesting, however, that visitors were still making their way around the cathedral as mass was occurring—but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised as Notre Dame is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Paris.

The nationalities present during mass were abundant. It was really amazing to see such diverse people coming together for a common cause. The actual mass was a little different than I am used to, as the priests and altar servers used incense frequently throughout the service. There was also less singing, but that could possibly be because of the language barriers. Other than those few things, the mass was very similar to the services I am used to at home, which was very soothing. Sometimes, in a place where everything is new, it is nice to have subtle reminders of home.

As I was observing interior of the cathedral, noticing the exquisite stained glass windows, expansive barrel vaults, and beautiful tapestries, I was brought back to the first week of our trip in Paris when we visited the Notre Dame. I then realized how much we’ve learned here, how many places we’ve been, how many sights we’ve seen. It is truly amazing to think that I have spent the past six weeks living in Paris, a foreign city that I scarcely knew anything about before coming. But now, looking back on all our time, I feel like I have grown so much as person. I learned French (a little at least), traveled around Europe, and made great friends. My time in Paris began and ended with Notre Dame, bringing everything full circle, bringing to mind all the wonderful experience I’ve had.

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris | Sarah Phalen

— Sarah Phalen