Friday, April 1, 2016


This is my opinion:  I’m a bells guy.  I like bells at the Mass.  I am not among those who think Jesus divinely ordained bells to be rung at Mass nor do I think they are a tool of the devil as they seemed to be proclaimed while I was at the seminary.  I think they are cultural.  Like dance is not a cultural aspect to our western worship, bells are (or should be used as such.)

Here is why:  When one achieves a level at a computer game, does the screen go black with a little silent note that says, “level achieved?”  No!  There is all kinds of noises; explosions, trumpets, music, etc.  When the President of the United States shows up, do we stand quietly and respectfully as he walks into the room?  No.  They play four “Ruffles and Flourishes” followed by “Hail to the Chief” amid cheering applause.

I will now restrain myself by boring you with way too many examples to get the point across that, culturally, when something significant happens, when someone significant appears, we greet the occasion with a joyous sound.  (Okay, I lied, two more examples.)  When Jesus entered Jerusalem (Hosanna!)  And when he appeared to the Apostles after His Resurrection, He had to say TWICE to them, “Peace!”  I can only imagine it wasn’t because they were silently recognizing that He was there.

For these reasons, that is why I am all for ringing bells at the epiclesis.  Not because we have to rouse those praying their rosaries to pay attention to something important is happening (what I was taught) BUT that something cool, awesome, mind blowing, and important is happening.  It would be inappropriate to cry out in joy now (something that Catholics are not great at in general anyway - case in point is the singing of the “Hosanna in the Highest” at many a parish) but ring a bell in celebration is both meaningful, cultural, and appropriate.  Even if you were not Catholic, you would understand something special is happening here.

What is going here?  (Now we move from my opinion to the teaching, paragraph 79 subparagraph c of the GIRM.)  The epiclesis is the point of the Eucharistic prayer when the priest stretches his hands out over the gifts that are about to be consecrated and “implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands” becomes the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, “for the salvation of those who partake of it.”  It is the invocation of - the calling down of the Holy Spirit to do His work.  It is a moment of awe.  It is a moment of celebration.


Nan said...

It's the most important part of Mass.

Pat said...


I hope you will forgive this slightly humorous anecdote. When my son was in high school, one of his classmates came to our home to review a math assignment.

A rebroadcast of EWTN's daily Mass happened to be playing on the TV in my kitchen. My son and his friend were in another room. When the bells were rung at the epiclesis, my son's classmate said in a startled voice, "Mass is happening in the kitchen!"

doubletrouble said...

Bells guy here, too. I've always liked them, but not sure why; got a dozen or so small ones I've accumulated over the years.
I do three strikes before Angelus, and one after the reading in the Office..
Clarifies the mind, it does.
Or, I'm just nuts.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the use of bells was apparently discouraged during Father's seminary training?