Blessing of the Bells

A HOMILY FOR THE BLESSING OF THE BELLS  –  10/8/17  –  SMG

+  PAX ET BONUM!   PEACE AND GOODNESS TO YOU THIS DAY!

WE GATHER TOGETHER TONIGHT FOR THIS IMPORTANT MOMENT IN OUR PARISH’S HISTORY.  THIRTEEN YEARS AGO, WHEN WE BUILT THIS CHURCH, THE CONSCIOUS DECISION WAS MADE TO EXCLUDE THE BELL TOWER, SO AS TO NOT BORROW ANY MORE MONEY THAN WE HAD TO, TO BUILD OUR NEW WORSHIP SPACE.  IT WAS A RESPONSIBLE DECISION.  IT WAS THE SMART THING TO DO.  IT DID HAVE A COUPLE OF VERY IMPORTANT RAMIFICATIONS.  IT WOULD MEAN THAT OUR CHURCH WOULD GO WITHOUT BELLS AND A BELL TOWER FOR AWHILE.  AND IT WOULD ALSO MEAN THAT WE WOULD NOT HAVE A CROSS ON TOP OF CHURCH FOR SOME TIME.  WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BELL TOWER, AND THE CASTING OF OUR NEW BELLS, WE FINALIZE THE CONSTRUCTION OF OUR PARISH CHURCH.  THIS IS A GREAT DAY AND A GREAT TIME!

CHURCH BELLS CALL PEOPLE TO PRAYER.  WE KNOW THIS.  WHAT I’D LIKE TO SUGGEST TO YOU TONIIGHT, THOUGH, IS THAT CHURCH BELLS ALSO HAVE A POWER, A SPIRITUAL WEIGHT, THAT MAYBE WE DON’T REALIZE, AND THAT FOR THE LAST THIRTEEN YEARS, WE HAVE BEEN MISSING.

IN OLDER CITIES, ESPECIALLY IN DOWNTOWN AREAS, CHURCH BELLS RING OUT EVERY HOUR FROM THE STEEPLES OF THE LOCAL CHURCHES AND CATHEDRALS.  THE BELLS ARE SOMETIMES HARD TO HEAR IN THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF TRAFFIC, BUT WHEN VISITING A COUNTRY PARISH, THE BELLS CAN BE HEARD FOR MILES AROUND.

CHURCH BELLS HAVE BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 5TH CENTURY AND WERE IN COMMON USUAGE IN THE MIDDLE AGES.  THEY WERE PARTICULARLY USED BY MONASTIC COMMUNITIES TO CALL THE MONKS, WHO DURING THE DAY WERE IN VARIOUS PLACES IN THE MONASTERY, TO GATHER FOR PRAYER IN THE CHAPEL OR CHURCH.  LATER ON, THE CUSTOM BECAME MORE COMMON IN PARISH CHURCHES AND THE BELLS WERE USED TO CALL THE PEOPLE TO THE CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST, AS WELL AS THE RECITATION OF THE ANGELUS PRAYER THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

HOWEVER, THERE’S MORE TO THIS STORY THAN JUST THIS.  CHURCH BELLS ALSO HAVE A GREAT SPIRITUAL POWER.  WHEN A NEW CHURCH BELL IS INSTALLED, IT IS TRADITIONALLY “BAPTIZED” OR “CONSECRATED” BY THE BISHOP OR LOCAL PRIEST.  WHILE NOT IN FACT A BAPTISM, THE CEREMONY MIRRORS IN MANY WAYS, THE CELEBRATION OF BAPTISM AND POURING AND WASHING WITH HOLY WATER.  SOMETHING THAT WE ARE GOING TO SEE, IN JUST A FEW MINUTES.  THE BELLS ARE NAMED IN HONOR OF SAINTS, OR AFTER THE VIRGIN MARY.

THE ROMAN MISSAL PROVIDES A VERY SOLEMN BLESSING OF CHURCH BELLS, AND IT SPEAKS OF THE SPIRITUAL SYMBOLISM AND SACRAMENTAL POWER THAT THESE BELLS ARE ABOUT TO POSSESS.

IN THE MISSAL, WE ARE REMINDED THAT GOD, WHO DECREED THROUGH BLESSED MOSES, HIS SERVANT AND LAWGIVER, THAT SILVER TRUMPETS SHOULD BE MADE AND BE SOUNDED AT THE TIME OF SACRIFICE, IN ORDER TO REMIND THE PEOPLE OF GOD BY THEIR CLEAR TONES, TO PREPARE FOR WORSHIP OF GOD AND TO ASSEMBLE AND GATHER TOGETHER FOR ITS CELEBRATION.  TONIGHT, WE AS GOD’S PEOPLE, ASK GOD TO BLESS AND SET ASIDE THESE FIVE BELLS, WHICH ARE TO BE INSTALLED BEGINNING TOMORROW MORNING, FOR USE IN THIS HOLY CHURCH, FOR HIS SERVICE AND HIS USE.   MAY BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, GOD MAKE THESE FIVE BELLS HALLOWED, THROUGH OUR PRAYER THIS

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NIGHT.  SO THAT WHEN THESE BELLS ARE TOLLED AND RUNG IN THE FUTURE, THE FAITHFUL MAY BE INVITED AND CALLED THE HOUSE OF GOD AND TO EVERLASTING LIFE!

MAY THE CHURCH’S FAITH AND PIETY BE MADE STRONGER WHENEVER THEY HEAR ITS MELODIOUS PEALS.  AT THE SOUND OF THESE BELLS, MAY ALL EVIL SPIRITS BE DRIVEN FAR AWAY!  MAY THUNDER AND LIGHTNING, STORM AND TORNADO, HAIL AND WIND, AND ALL KINDS OF EVIL BE BANISHED AT THE ECHOING OF THEIR SOUND.  AND MAY ALL EVIL FLEE AT THE SIGHT OF THE HOLY CROSS THAT IS ENGRAVED ON EACH OF THEM!  MAY ALL EVIL AND TEMPTATION FLEE AT THE SOUND OF THESE BELLS!

TONIGHT, WE ASK THAT OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST, HIMSELF, GRANT THIS FOR US.  TAKE NOTICE OF THE INCREDIBLE SPIRITUAL WEIGHT THAT THE BELLS ARE GIVEN!  TONIGHT, THEY BECOME INSTRUMENTS OF GOD’S POWER, IN THE WAR BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL!

WE PRAY TONIGHT THAT WHENEVER THESE BELLS MAY RING, MAY THE ANCIENT ENEMY TAKE FLIGHT!  MAY THE CHRISTIAN PEOPLE UNITE AND HEAR THE CALL TO FAITH.  MAY THE EMPIRE OF SATAN BE TERRIFIED AT THEIR RINGING!  AND MAY WE AS GOD’S PEOPLE BE STRENGTHENED AS WE ARE CALLED TOGETHER AS CHURCH BY THESE BELLS!  MAY THE SOUND OF THESE BELLS BE AS PLEASING TO GOD, AS WAS KING DAVID’S PLAYING OF THE HARP, IN THE OLD TESTAMENT!

AND AS THE PEALS OF THUNDER FRIGHTENED AND DROVE AWAY AN ARMY OF ENEMIES, WHILE SAMUEL SLAYED AN UNBLEMISHED LAMB, AS A HOLOCAUST TO THE ETERNAL KING, SO TOO WHEN THESE BELLS RING IN THE CLOUDS OVER ST. MARIA GORETTI AND WESTFIELD,  AS WE GATHER IN THIS CHURCH FOR THE EUCHARISTIC BANQUET, THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE OF THE ETERNAL KING,  MAY LEGIONS OF ANGELS STAND WATCH AND GUARD OVER THE ASSEMBLY OF YOUR HOLY CHURCH, TO PROTECT US IN BODY AND SPIRIT!

THESE BELLS WILL CALL DOWN ANGELS.  LEGIONS OF THEM!  GOD CONTINUES TO WATCH OVER AND PROTECT HIS CHURCH!  THESE ARE NO ORDINARY BELLS.  AND WHAT WE DO TONIGHT, IS NO ORDINARY BLESSING.  AND WHAT WE HAVE BUILT FOR GOD AND AM NOW CLOSE TO COMPLETING, HAS ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE!

LET US REMEMBER THIS, FROM NOW ON, EVERY TIME WE HEAR A CHURCH BELL OR BELLS, WHETHER IT BE HERE OR ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!  WITH EACH RING AND EACH PEAL, A SPIRITUAL POWER IS BEING GIVEN TO US, BY OUR GOD!  MAY EACH RINGNG BELL REMIND US TO THANK HIM FOR THE MANY BLESSINGS IN OUR LIVES!

 

  1. MARIA GORETTI…    PRAY FOR US!