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Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/contact:larchstar@aol.com

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

April 5, 2010

THE MAN IN THE PAINTING

The painting was in the living room of a rectory. It was untitled and carried no attribution to an artist. In the near distance, three crosses were atop a hill. Ominous clouds darkened the execution site. Beneath the crosses could be seen a few soldiers of Rome's Tenth Legion, a cluster of women, and a motley crowd of hangers-on. To the far left, a slight ray of sunlight escaped the otherwise clouded sky.



In the immediate foreground, a man was walking away from Golgotha, the hill. He was visibly grimed and sweaty, tired, apparently from strenuous labor that had begun in the early morning. He was going home, probably thinking of a shower and dinner with his wife and children. What is clearly evident is that he is totally oblivious to the high drama playing out on the hilltop. He had no awareness that a man, named Jesus, had been executed with two brigands in a setting whose culture was filled with violence.



The faithful people of St. Ann's Parish in Ossining, who participated in the solemn Triduum ceremonies were most unlike the laborer in the painting. They were aware of the cosmic activity going on and its implication for their own lives. Holy Thursday's Mass celebrated a new Passover supper with Jesus establishing His presence in the Blessed Sacrament, thence and henceforth. It established a new priesthood that would re-image in a new way Jesus' sacrifice that would occur the following day.



St. Ann's pastor, Father Ed Byrne, spoke of the coming collapse of the Jesus' project the following day. Jesus knew that one of His team would betray Him, another deny Him, and the rest run away. Yet He wanted to mark this Passover and give glory to God in their service to others and by being humble in this, of which He gave an example in washing their feet. Father Ed then likened the deteriorating state of today's Church with its sex abuse coverups to the deterioration of Jesus' team after their last supper, to be followed by giving glory and praise to God in the humble service of others. Ed recounted the plight of a neighbor, who faced eviction from his house on Good Friday. St. Ann's HELP Committee met and saved the day: an example of how in parlous times, the faithful give glory to God in service to others.



The Holy Thursday liturgy concluded with the the procession of the Sacrament around the church, accompanied by the singing, consecutively, by the Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Filipino, and St. Ann's choirs. Music for the week was provided by the choir and organist. Chris and Terry, cantors, sang a joyous Exsultet on the Easter Vigil and heartfelt Lamentations of Jeremias at each day's morning Mass.



On Good Friday, in addition to the customary Mass and adoration of the cross, there was a reenactment of the Way of the Cross by parish teen- agers in solemn and dramatic measure. In the evening, St. Ann's Hispanic celebration of the Way of the Cross wended its way around Ossining with procession and vibrant music.



Holy Saturday's Vigil of Easter featured the baptism of one person, reception into the Church for three, conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation on fourteen, and the marriage of the newly baptized to her groom! On Easter Day, a similar number of receptions and confirmations were carried out in a Mass in Spanish.



Easter Sunday was marked by splendid music and by the hats and dresses of little girls and the white shirts of the boys, all in tune with the yellowing of forsythia and the popping up of the crocusses.



The laborer in our opening painting was thoroughly oblivious of the drama of salvation being played out on a nearby hill. Participants in St. Ann's Triduum liturgies fully savored the meaning and impact of each of these dramatic days.

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