Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/

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Location: 3103 Arlington Avenue,, Bronx, NY 10463, United States

April 16, 2007


Holy Saturday begins the Easter celebration. On the plaza outside the church, the flames of the Easter fire overcomes the darkness of the evening and of Good Friday's grief. Led by the Paschal candle, the people stream into the darkened church. Three times the procession halts as "Christ our light" is sung; the flame is passed to the assembled people; the lights go on and two women cantors sing the luminous poetry of the "Exsultet": "Rejoice heavenly powers, sing choirs of angels. Sound the trumpet of salvation." Then follow readings from the Jewish scriptures, begining with Genesis' chronicle of creation: "Let there be light!".

Part of Paul's letter to the Romans leads into Luke's gospel account of the three women, the first to find the empty tomb. "He is risen; He is not here". Mary Magdalene is the first to bring news of the resurrection to the men associated with Jesus. Then further association with this Jesus occurs as the Liturgy of Baptism begins. The Litany of the Saints is chanted, suggesting the wide spread of the faith ethnically, geographically and timewise: a community of past ages now joined with those of this age. A young woman steps into the baptismal pool, kneels in the water. The celebrant pours the water dramatically over her head and shoulders. She steps out of the pool; the congregation applauds. Fourteen others then receive the sacrament of confirmation.. The Mass begins, the Gloria is sung, and at Communion, the newly baptized and confirmed make their First Communion.

The Easter Sunday morning congregation is enveloped in the music of old and new hymns, sung by the choir and congregation, evoking a sense of cohesion and community in the Mass, comparable to a skilled symphony orchestra performing in a concert hall. There is more than the sound of the music; there is the palpable impact of the artistry on the person next to you and on all the audience. It is more than the impact on a single individual. It is as if there is almost another distinct organism in the hall, in the church, in which each member of the audience, of the congregation, is a part and experiences the impact on the whole. In music, it is the difference between listening to a disc in one's room and being in a concert hall with many others. In Sunday worship, it is the difference between solitary prayer, so easily subject to distraction, and the communal experience of worship and devotion of an assemblage into which one is thoroughly drawn. This is the high characteristic of worship and devotion at St. Ann's in Ossining, NY. "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad therein."


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