Last Sunday, St. Anne’s Chapel re-instated the practice of using a bell at Mass during the Eucharistic Prayer.
There were various reasons in church history which led to the ringing of bells. Although all of them are not still in effect, the practice still can be advantageous and is even mentioned in the Church’s official General Instruction on the Roman Missal.
I read a comment that the ringing of bells in times past may have been related to the priest using a low voice; even today, hearing issues are a consideration for some of our residents. Even for those of us with perfect hearing, the bell serves a purpose. I know, for myself, I do not have perfect concentration, and my mind can wander even at Mass. (I even forgot to ring the bell on Thursday; just call me a ding-a-ling!).
Now, I have to be ‘on my toes’ because the job of bell-ringer has kind of fallen to me.
The ringing of a bell can serve as a kind of ‘wake-up call” to get us back on track during this very special, very holy moment that we don’t want to miss due to distraction.
Along with the purpose of reining in wandering minds, the use of the bell, I think, also can add to the sense of reverence for the sacredness of what is happening right here. Our Franciscan Rule exhorts us “to show the greatest possible reverence and honor for the…most holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is hoped that this little gesture in our liturgy can contribute to this.
I thought I would close this little article with my version of the song that inspired the title. Though a different version was sung in the 1945 classic film The Bells of St. Mary’s, I am using a modification of the original lyrics.
Ah, here they are calling
The old loves, and the true loves
The love bells shall ring out, yes, ring out
For you, yes, you and me.