Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Very Special Type of Stained Glass

The Lord and I have an understanding.  I spend no time in his company.  He returns the favor.  It works for us, I suppose, although I have more than a mere suspicion that I shall face a fate similar to that faced by Tom Hanks' character in The Green Mile.  The only difference shall be that instead of a mouse as a traveling companion, I will be accompanied by Dempsey, the only t-shirt-wearing feline destined to live forever.  

As someone who has scant little use for organized religion, I was incredibly surprised when I read this story in Sunday's New York Post.  It is rare that an official affiliated with the Catholic Church brings a smile to my face, but Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, the Rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan managed to do so.  Bravo to him for appreciating the significance of what is there - in the dust of the windows of the great cathedral's south spire - and by how wide a margin its significance outweighs that associated with St. Patrick's having spotless panes of glass.

The firehouse that is home to Engine Company 54 and Ladder Company 4 relishes its sobriquet, "Pride of Midtown".   On September 11, 2001, fifteen members of the FDNY roared south from their 48th Street firehouse to the hell that was the World Trade Center.  None of the fifteen made it home to their families.   Among the men who died on that terrible Tuesday morning were four of the firefighters whose names shall remain permanently enshrined (or at least for however long Monsignor Ritchie has any say in the matter) in the dust and the dirt of St. Patrick's south spire windows.  Monsignor Ritchie is a man who says what he means and who means what he says.  Under his watchful eye, St. Patrick's is in the final stages of a $175 Million restoration project dedicated to making every inch of the building shine brighter and more beautifully than it has in years.  

Almost every inch of the building that is.  Everything except some very special windows, which serve as St. Patrick's eyes through which it sees the world.  Years ago I was given to understand that the Book of Matthew in the Bible's New Testament contains a reference to the eyes being the window to one's soul.  Perhaps as it is for those who worship at St. Patrick's it is for the great old cathedral herself.  

And maybe, just maybe, Monsignor Ritchie recognizes that St. Patrick's can have no better windows to its soul than those that contain the names of fallen heroes such as FF Paul Gill of Engine Co. 54, FF Michael Brennan of Ladder Co. 4, FF Michael Lynch of Ladder Co. 4, and FF Leonard Ragaglia of Engine Co. 54

In life, they were the "Pride of Midtown".  In death, they are freed from any and all arbitrary geographic limitations.  



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