Thursday, December 24, 2015
TO RING THE BELLS OR NOT TO RING THE BELLS: THAT IS THE QUESTION!
Why you ask? I am glad you asked. Because now that the altar was turned and planted firmly in the midst of the assembly so that everyone could see what was happening and the Mass was in the vernacular and the canon of the Mass was prayed in an audible voice, no longer did the poor, disenfranchised laity need bells to wake them up or let them know at what point the priest was.
So rather than insult the newly liberated laity with the infantile sounds of bells, bells were removed from the Mass. It was so honorable and condescending of them, no?
But in the 1980's when I went to a liturgical conference (barf), one of the gurus of modern liturgy, what is euphemistically called a liturgist, said that the laity did not and should not have "magic moments" during the Mass which bells helped to facilitate. But he did feel that the laity needed a "black hole" in which to fathom the eternal mysteries of the Eucharist and that the black hole would be the presentation of the offerings, called the gifts back then.
Yes, these humble items of bread and wine, wheat and grapes along with their financial gifts (offerings) would be offered to God, given to God as a gift, but also given to the institutional Church as a gift and then God would give them back to us to multiply His graces by making the bread and wine into the Bread of Life and the Wine of Joy. Some black hole, no?
When I was in the seminary in the late 1970's bells were banned for all the reasons stated above. And certainly seminarians were too sophisticated for them any way.
And the trend then, which our liturgists simply knew would become the way of the future, like by the middle of the 1980's, would be for no genuflections during Mass, no elevations whatsoever and we'd have just the basics, Prayer, Word, Gifts, Offering, Banquet, dismissal.
In fact one of our liturgists began Mass after the "gathering song" by not even having the "Sign of the Cross" but rather he simply greeted us "The Lord be with you." with our then response and he would go directly to the Collect without delay.
He said that the most important part of the Mass was the Liturgy of the Word (he was also a Scripture Scholar) and that it should come immediately so important it was. Of course he believed in using the historical/critical method of interpreting Scripture and getting to the "real" Jesus of history, so that meant he really didn't believe literally in any of the Scriptures and even the dogmas of the Church could be reinterpreted according to the zenith of interpretive methods not allowed Catholics until after Vatican II. So the Nativity, take a hammer to it! The Virgin Birth, forget about it! The bodily resurrection, it is to laugh! Miracles, didn't happen. Jesus divine--oh my! He even taught that Mary was a prostitute and the virgin conception was made up to promote continuity with the Old Testament.
Oh, don't forget that 1974 was the one year that priests molested more teenagers than any other year and more priests left the priesthood and religious life and seminaries and convents emptied and parish churches weren't too far behind. Yet, the renewal was a success. Those who foisted this kind of renewal on us had to believe it was a renewal otherwise if the truth be told, they'd commit suicide for what they had accomplished.
It all has to do with the loss of bells!
Are bells rung at your Masses?