I am not allowed to write any more about the Parisian women. This is because I have been in Paris for three days and, because of my lack of focus on street signs and landmarks, I still can’t find the way back to our apartment on my own. I have to follow my wife. If you were watching us from behind I would be the guy who’s jacket sleeve is constantly being yanked to the right or left. I have to be steered on streets of Paris because they are populated with long-legged, skirt-wearing, flouncy-haired, shopping bag-swinging belles femmes. It’s not that I have been expressly forbidden from expounding on this topic, it’s just that my wife has this way of rolling her eyes that suggest I should reconsider a thing. This restriction makes it tough to go on here because Parisian women are pretty much all I have noticed since we arrived in Paris. Add to that, they’re everywhere.
Okay. I did notice Notre Dame Cathedral today and that was nice. Built from 12th to 14th century, it was a remarkable feat of construction because that was a time before power tools and after slave labor. The work of medieval society, unlike the ancient world, was done by its own people. This of course required money, so to preserve the reverent experience of visiting Notre Dame and all the other magnificent churches you encounter throughout southern France, you might not want to delve too deeply into the history of cash flow in the medieval Church.
I’ll do it for you.
Yes, it was a time of the kindly preachings of St Augustine, but also of nefarious fund-raising by, for example, church-commissioned ‘pardoners’. Check your old Cliff Notes for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Pardoner was the despicable guy. Dispycable guye ? Here’s a new word, or actually an old word lost in time: SIMONY . Simony is the selling of ecclesiastical favors like pardons for everything from gluttony to homicide … or the mother-of-all-pardons, salvation. Heaven, you see, had a Treasury of Merit, according the robed snake-oilers of the period, into which you could make deposits. Upon payment these pardons were reduced to writing, like receipts, assuring the ‘pardoned’ better seating in the hereafter. Mendicant monks would sell you a feather from the wing of the Angel Gabriel or a piece of Moses ‘burning bush’. ‘Step right up ! Your legion of sins … the travesties visited upon the poor and downtrodden … are herein forgiven. Just show this parchment at the Gate”.
Mendicant. There is another good word you can use if you want to sound ‘medieval’. No one will know you don’t know what it means.
I dygresse. Unlike our Notre Dame, which is a football team and inflicts far less mayhem on its opponents than the medieval church did to its adversaries, the Paris Notre Dame was in particularly reverent form the day we visited. There was a Mass underway led by a younger priest, not a day over 80, who happened to be a mellifluous chanter. Standing under the same roof and on the same floor tiles as Kings, Popes and Crusaders, listening to the priest’s ethereal chant, I was so moved I almost jumped in line to receive Holy Communion. That would have been my first HC in 40 years, but then I remembered you are supposed to go to Confession first, which for me would go like this:
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It’s been 40 years since my last confession. You got a couple of weeks ? … and, actually, why don’t you go first ?”
I whispered my Communion idea to the rest of the group and I got this ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ look from my more catholicized sister. I passed on Holy Communion so as not commit blasphemy in the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
In conclusion, Notre Dame is a good place to take a break from watching Parisian women