Monday, October 27, 2008

44 Reasons I Love Being Catholic...#5

Those beautiful bells during mass. They are called the Sanctus Bells....and most are made of Bronze.

This tradition goes back over 800 years. My cliff note version, NOTE: I am no theologian.....I am just saying my understanding.........they used to ring the church bells...the big ones like outside in the tower to signify mass was starting AND during the consecration and presentation of the Eucharist. By ringing the bells, people who could not make mass could hear that something divine and miraculous was happening at the local church. They could stop what they were doing and make a small adoration or prayer to the Lord. The bells also helped the faithful in the church...and they still refocus on what is going on if their minds have started to wander. Yes, it happens...... I also seem to recall, when the bells were instituted I am thinking the mass was in Latin and many didn't speak the language so it helped them know what was going on. At some point, the big bells were replaced with the little bells that are now rung in the sanctuary. Its a set of 3 or so bells.

They are rung as the priest elevates the Body of Christ and also when he raises the Blood of Christ. This is actually optional, so you might not hear it if you go to mass. My church will ring them so long as someone is serving with the priest. Its a BEAUTIFUL sound, 3 rings which represent the most Holy Trinity.

When I was pregnant with Sarah Cate, and was at mass when they would ring the bells she always moved in my belly. It made me smile and think of how in Luke when Mary went to tell her Cousin Elizabeth she was expecting and it excited John the Baptist who was in her belly at the time....
Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,

After Sarah was born, she would look around for those bells, they seemed to calm her. I guess she remembered them. Now when she hears them she looks at me and smiles. It brings me so much joy as I LOVE those bells. I was thrilled on the CRHP weekend when I got to ring the bells during one of the masses. I cannot express how much that meant to me as when I was younger, girls were not allowed to serve on the altar....which has totally changed....lucky girls now who get to ring those bells.

I found the following on the site Adoremus Bulletin referencing bible verses mentioning the use of bells....

The use of bells is mentioned four times in the Old Testament of the Bible. Exodus 28:33-35 describes the vestments worn by the high priest Aaron as he approached the Arc of the Covenant in the Holiest of Holies:

On its skirts you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet stuff, around its skirts, with bells of gold between them, a golden bell and a pomegranate, round about on the skirts of the robe. And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord, and when he comes out, lest he die.

This description of Aaron's extremely ornate priestly vestments is repeated in Exodus 39:25-26 and again in Ecclesiastes 45:9:
And he encircled him with pomegranates, with very many golden bells round about, to send forth a sound as he walked, to make their ringing heard in the temple as a reminder to the sons of his people.

The bells were likely included as part of high-priest Aaron's vestments for two reasons. First, they created a joyful noise to God, which is something man should undertake as described in Psalm 98:4
Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth; break into song; sing praise.
Secondly, bells were long thought to possess apotropaic powers, or the power to ward off evil spirits. The bells were seen as tools to be used to avert dangers to Aaron before he entered the Holiest of Holies.

Bells were also used to signify adoration to God during early times, as shown in Zechariah 14:20:
And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the Lord". And the pots in the house of the Lord shall be as the bowls before the altar.

The ancient cymbals mentioned in Psalm 150:5-6 are said to have resembled water pitchers with wide open necks, similar to the bells of today:
Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
SO there you have it folks....I learn a little something new each time I post one of these 44 reasons! I just love the sound and the reverence it adds t the Mass.
See you at #6

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