Monday, July 04, 2005


While on vacation, we swung back through our old parish, St. Patrick's, that we had attended during our first two years of marriage out in Sidney, Nebraska. St. Pat's has just finished a $3.5 million dollar, two-year renovation, and it looks great for the most part. They tried hard to get a good mix of the modern and the traditional, and I think succeeded more than failed. Having just undergone a similar process in our home parish the memories of how difficult it is to get anyone to agree on anything so that you can move forward are fresh in my mind.

One thing, however, that I had forgotten and am not a fan of, is the lack of ringing the bells at the consecration. The silence is deafening and I'd love a return to the bells as we have in the Lincoln diocese. In fact, there are many things that many parishes and even other diocese could do to ensure Mass is a reverant, holy time. How many potential religious does the church lose because of this?
The seminal moment of Joe Freedy's epiphany could be traced to a book his dad gave him during Christmas break of his junior year.

"The Lamb's Supper," by Scott Hahn, details in layman's terms the Eucharist, the sacred portion of the Catholic Mass that re-enacts the Last Supper and transforms bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

Freedy compared "The Lamb's Supper" to a football playbook drawn up for fans.

"Before I read this book," Freedy said, "I'd go to church every Sunday for an hour, I'd be bored, listen to some bad music, finish, and as soon as I was done I would forget about God until the next week. (The book) just takes the reality of the Mass and it explains it in very simple terms, but in a powerful way."

Indeed, in an editorial posted today on, they call for the same thing.
We all remember that during the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican initiated a new backup system in announcing the decision. Instead of just using smoke, the Church instituted the ringing of bells as a confirmation.

We suggest that the Church take it another step and institute (or should we say, "re-institute") the bells during Mass. Bring those bells back into the liturgy!

Before the reforms of Vatican II, bells were jingled during Consecration. There were three long rings as the Host was held, and three more as the priest elevated the Chalice.

That practice, which some parishes still use, instills a reverence that nowadays too often is lacking.

During the past several decades, the Consecration has varied from church to church and priest to priest with some holding the Host long and high (as should be done) while others lift it in a way that is almost fleeting and a few even decline to elevate it all or do so in a way that prevents the Bread from being seen.

This is wrong -- out of the Church rubric (see your missal) -- and all but negates the fact that the Consecration is the high point, the holiest moment, of Mass. It is the moment in which bread and wine are transformed into and imbued by the Body and Spirit of Christ, and to deprive us of this event is to deprive us of critical prayer time.

They also call for better homilies and better music. I'm no homilist, but I do have a musician's ear, and the other thing that struck me at St. Pat's was the music liturgy being (as charitably as I can say this) sorely lacking. And it wasn't due to lack of this individual's talent, but to the music selection itself. But that's a whole other matter for another time.

By the way, in addition to Hahn's book, I would also heartily recommend a free tape by entitled "The Mass Explained." Both are tremendous resources for what it is we are celebrating and in the presence of during Holy Mass.


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