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

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

April 21, 2009


Last Good Friday evening: Route 9 had been blocked off; red lights were flashing on several police cars; a huge crowd had assembled on the roadway. But there was no emergency; no signs of hostility in the crowd, estimated at a thousand by the police. They were parishioners of St. Ann's parish. It was the start of the Way of the Cross procession, Hispanic style. Fourteen Stations of the Cross had been set up around the Village of Ossining. A police car led the way, followed by a flatbed truck on which each Station was re-enacted in sound, costume and action as truck and procession arrived at each of the Stations. Many of the men, women, and children carried lighted candles; their voices sang out in Spanish hymns as the procession wended its way around the village.

Earlier in the day, the Mass of the Pre-sanctified and the Homage to the Cross were celebrated. At another point, a group of costumed teen-agers reenacted each Station of the Cross in the church. Great reverence and devotion marked the young people's demeanor, and a great tenderness at the scene of Jesus encountering His mother along the way and, at the twelfth Station, as her Son's body was draped across her knees.

Holy Thursday evening saw a church, completely filled, heavily Ecuadorean, reflecting the parish's chief constituency, the eyes of the many little children bright in awe as the procession of the Blessed Sacrament moved slowly through the church in candle light and rising clouds of incense to the singing of the Pange Lingua and hymns in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Tagalog. The congregation, with its exotic ethnic mix, appeared transfixed in silent reverence and devotion.

Each day of the Triduum began with Morning Prayers and the singing of the heartbreaking Lamentations Of Jeremiah, the song from the tragic days of the Jews in exile, centuries before Jesus.

Holy Saturday evening saw the new Easter fire enkindled on the portico and then brought into the church on the Easter candle and the lighted candles of the people. The joyous Exsultet was exquisitly sung by the two women cantors of the parish.
In the course of the lengthy ceremony, one young man was baptized and another twenty men and women were received into the Church. On Easter Sunday afternoon, in an exclusively Spanish ceremony, another twenty-four individuals were received into the Church.

Easter Sunday saw the bright liturgy of Easter with its triumphant music, a dramatic finale to the drama of the preceeding days.

For the first ten years of my retirement, I had the privilege of being the Weekend Associate at St. Ann's, surrendering three years ago, when, by some mysterious techtonic process, the hill between church and rectory had suddenly become much steeper. But I do return for special occasions to experience the faith, devotion, and warm friendliness of the people and of the pastor. Without becoming overly sentimental, it has been pleasant to have become to the parishioners, "Uncle Harry". But this, however, does not gentle the sense of aging. St. Ann's and its pastor, Father Ed Byrne, are truly remarkable. I shall use a subsequent post here on my Archangel blog to describe something about Father Ed and what he and his people have accomplished. St. Ann's has always been for me a truly religious experience!