Let me ask you a question: Do you hear what I hear? Since the reintroduction of the bells at the epiclesis and consecration at St. Benedict church, many of expressed their appreciation for them and others have wondered why we have them (others have commented similarly at Sacred Heart in Virden and at St. Patrick’s in Girard).
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says, “A little before the consecration, when appropriate, a server rings a bell as a signal to the faithful. According to local custom, the server also rings the bell as the priest shows the host and then the chalice” (150). The option of ringing a bell at these three moments is an option I have chosen to utilize.
The ringing of such bells has a two-fold reason: first, the bells “make a joyful noise to the Lord” (Psalm 98:4); second, the bells help to recall the attention of the faithful – if it has been lost – to the Eucharistic sacrifice at the moment when the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some suggest that since the Holy Mass is now routinely celebrated entirely in the vernacular language – for us, English – that the use of such bells is no longer needed because people now can understand what happens during the Liturgy. If such were indeed the case, I daresay no one would ever get up to go the restroom during the consecration of the Precious Body and Blood of the Lord. The use of the bells help us to realize more clearly the great mystery of what takes place when the priest speaks the words of institution.
The words spoken by the Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel should give us all pause for careful consideration: “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers” (Luke 13:27)!
Each of us would do well to consider prayerful our participation and attentiveness at the Holy Mass. The Second Vatican Council reminded us that “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian faithful … have a right and obligation by reason of their baptism” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14). Such participation in the liturgy is both exterior and interior; indeed, the interior participation, an awareness of what happens during the Liturgy and a prayerful joining of ourselves to the prayer of the Mass, is necessary before all us.
It is in the Holy Mass that the Lord Jesus Christ comes to meet us, to know us and be known by us. Let each of us seek to enter into the mystery celebrated at the altar of God, that at the end of our life the door may be opened for us because we have known the Lord and have followed his will for our lives.
A blessed and joyous Sunday to you each one of you!