Spirit Daily


Bring Back The Bells: Real Need For Mass To Return to Sense of Sacredness

We all remember that during the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican initiated a new backup system in announcing the decision. Instead of just using smoke, the Church instituted the ringing of bells as a confirmation.

We suggest that the Church take it another step and institute (or should we say, "re-institute") the bells during Mass. Bring those bells back into the liturgy!

Many of us remember how, before the reforms of Vatican II, bells were jingled during Consecration. There were three long rings as the Host was held, and three more as the priest elevated the Chalice.

That practice, which some parishes still use, instills a reverence that nowadays too often is lacking.

During the past several decades, the Consecration has varied from church to church and priest to priest with some holding the Host long and high (as should be done) while others lift it in a way that is almost fleeting and a few even decline to elevate it all or do so in a way that prevents the Bread from being seen.

This is wrong -- out of the Church rubric (see your missal) -- and all but negates the fact that the Consecration is the high point, the holiest moment, of Mass. It is the moment in which bread and wine are transformed into and imbued by the Body and Spirit of Christ, and to deprive us of this event is to deprive us of critical prayer time.

Bring back the bells! It is during Consecration that some of our best prayers are said. When bells are rung, they cause the elevation to last until the three rings are over -- which makes the Consecration much longer than the modern way.

Perhaps Pope Benedict XVI, who already has indicated a proclivity for resurrecting certain parts of the pre-Vatican-II liturgy (including some Latin), will reform the reform. It is something that is sorely needed. For it is the lack of a holy, sacred feeling that has caused many lukewarm Catholics to vacate the pews altogether. They just don't feel anything on Sunday (or during the Saturday vigil), and as those who are daily communicants know, there is a great difference between the sensations of daily Mass and those on Sunday -- when too often the Mass takes on more the air of a concert or a social event.

Let's have great music, yes, but let's choose holy music presented in a balanced fashion.

It is not about glorifying the singers and it is not about a concert; it is about extolling Christ in the best way.

That would be another reform, and if we can be so bold, let us also urge Rome to review the nature of sermons (or as many call them, homilies). This is not said out of criticism but rather frustration. In too many instances, sermons tend to be long, disorganized, and thus a "disconnect": more a dry lesson in theology or history than on spirituality. As a result, congregants (even those with the most willing of ears) often struggle with tedium. There is a loss of rhythm to the Mass.

Shortening and improving sermons would be a huge improvement and would bring back some of those who left. Padre Pio just about never gave a sermon and yet his Mass could last nearly two hours -- two hours that were rapt.

That is not to defend those who have vacated the pews: They should put up with whatever they have to put up with. Mass is a celebration, but it is also a sacrifice.

Still, there is no reason to make it dry (the Holy Spirit is there!), and the reinsertion of mystical theology would go a long way toward making homilies more interesting. Why can't we hear about how prayer affects us? Why can't we have more examples of conversions? Why can't we bring the sermons into our present time -- into our daily lives? Why can't we hear about miracles?

With all due respect, we need to hear our priests speak to us directly. We need lessons that are relevant to our personal lives. We need preaching that makes Christ and His teachings real, not something abstract.

We also need to hear about the devil. He is a "roaring lion" out there, mentioned in many of the Mass readings, and yet all but totally unmentioned when it comes to homilies. One of Pope John Paul II's very last writings mentioned that the earth seems to be "enshrouded by darkness" -- a theme the current Pope has also raised -- and yet it not usual to hear priest even broach this topic.


We can't think of a good answer.

Warn us of the occult. Explain the workings of demons. Talk about deliverance and healing as did Jesus.

And as we have often urged, we need to bring back the prayer to the Archangel Michael at the end of Mass. Say too the Hail Mary. That's a great way of leading into a sermon.

Want to feel a sense of the sacred return? Want to see a few more folks in the pews? Want to see them stay until the end?

Take away the abstractions (including vacant music) and replace it with that which is devout.


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