Saturday, January 10, 2015


Mary Lou Garcia-PeredaJanuary 10, 2015 at 11:35 AM...They might also consider ways to promote awareness of and belief in The Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. One simple way is to restore the use of the bells at the Elevation of the Host and Chalice during the Consecration. I once asked a priest why the bells were no longer used and was told "We don't want people to think one part of the Mass is more important than the other parts." Guess what? That part of the Mass when Jesus become Truly Present on the altar IS more important! Fool that I was, I accepted the word of that priest.

150. 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.
While it is true that the ringing of the bell at the consecration probably originated out of a practical concern - most of the canon (the eucharistic prayer) being silent in the "old Mass" - the fact that so few Catholics believe in the only reason to be Catholic - the Real Presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine * - we probably should add fireworks.

* Nine in ten weekly Mass attendees (91 percent) say they believe that Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist, compared to two-thirds of those who attend Mass less than weekly but at least once a month (65 percent), and four in ten of those attending Mass a few times a year or less (40 percent). Among Catholics attending Mass at least once a month, the youngest generation of Catholics (born after 1981) has similar beliefs about the Eucharist as Pre-Vatican II Generation Catholics (born before 1943). 

NOTE: It might be easy to discount my contention that "most" Catholics do not believe in the real presence by getting excited about the belief of the 91% who attend Mass weekly. However, the same report tells us that only 23% of Catholics attend Mass weekly. Thus the number of believers in the Real Presence is probably only about 20% of all Catholics. Given that the Real Presence is the only reason to be Catholic - otherwise you might as well stay home and read your bible - pastors need to seriously ask why. Could it be that the elimination of such practices that made the central act of the Mass (the consecration) outwardly special had something to do with it?

Note the good news about those born after 1981. 


  1. I for one appreciate the bells. Masses with the absence of such seem like such an unceremonious way to "greet" the Lord. But having just returned recently from the mainland, I attended a mass where was no kneeling at all. The Jesuit priest did not even raise the host or chalice during the consecration. What gives? If this an acceptable under the rubrics of the mass, I hope it doesn't get adopted here. Whatever happened to "at His name every knee shall bend". It seems contradictory to acknowledge that we are not worthy and yet stand when He enters into our presence.

    1. Mary Lou Garcia-PeredaJanuary 11, 2015 at 8:17 PM

      Anonymous (January 11, 2015 at 1:28 AM), I was surprised to discover during my last trip off-island that one church I attended had no kneelers! There was a cross (without a corpus) behind the altar but I wasn't sure if I was in a Catholic church until I saw the tabernacle light off to the side!

      I am physically unable to genuflect and/or kneel — while others kneel, I must physically sit and mentally kneel, while offering it up. While at that Mass, since I cannot stand for extended periods of time, I decided I could adopt my "usual" posture for the Consecration — sitting physically while mentally kneeling — while others stood. For me it was a win-win situation, but I was sad that this particular parish had decided that kneeling was unnecessary and had furnished the church to reflect that!

      Of course since there were no kneelers, there were no bells either.

  2. Out of curiosity, I once asked my theology teacher in college a very similar question -- then, the Latin Mass was still the norm and the ringing of the bells before and right at consecration was the practice -- and his explanation was that the ringing of the bells was initiated for very practical reasons, as Tim also mentions here.

    This teacher explained that early on, Sunday Mass attendance was very high and churches were so full that the attendance at even large churches were "standing room only" especially at the huge Cathedrals and Basilicas where people seated way at the back of these Cathedrals or large churches didn’t have the full view of the altar because of the distance between the altar and the people. The ringing of the bells was necessary to alert or announce the very important part of the Liturgy -- The Consecration of the Host -- especially to the people seated way in the back.

    Our Catholic belief and doctrine about the Real Presence of Christ was obviously so recognized and acknowledged by not only the early Christians, but by Catholics all over the world then, that at their Masses, everyone (including all who did not have full view of the Altar) wanted to know and be alerted when it was time to show reverence by their gesture and posture, to give their full attention and to pay their personal homage to the miraculous event happening in front of them: CHRIST’S REAL PRESENCE appearing to them under the appearance of Bread and Wine and coming to them in Holy Communion at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

    What an awesome Miracle and Gift we have! We too, should always acknowledge and recognize this event and should be alerted to before the Consecration at Mass by the ringing of the bells! Thank you Mary Lou, for bringing up this interesting and important information; and Tim, for expanding on its significance at Mass.

    1. Yes!...The true origin dates back when there were actually no "Churches" at the time and people would meet in at the center of their Town Square. Yes, VERY crowded. When the Priest would hold up the host, it was chanted "higher, higher", hence, the practice to lift the Host higher during consecration was born. AFTER, when actual Churches and Basilicas were built, the "bell" was used to alert the Faithfuls and avail ourselves to the the main focus of the Consecration, a bell was rung to alert the congregation where our focus should be at this time during the peak of our Mass Celebration, the Consecration.

  3. Father Matthew Blockley.January 11, 2015 at 6:37 AM

    The bell should always be used at the elevation of the Body and Blood of Our Lord at Holy Mass. When we allow these small things to be removed we contribute to the lack of respect and understanding of the Holy Mass. In a balanced way we must return to the basics of our faith and to the liturgical practices we all grew up in. We want our daily Mass celebrated with devotion . We want our daily rosary, and our devotions, our holy hours. We want the authentic catholic faith and liturgy celebrated with love and devotion. We need a return to the authentic catholic faith and liturgical practices in our church.
    The bell is a small thing I know but when it is sounded it adds to the reverence of Holy Mass. Take away these small things and then the next thing you will find people creating their own liturgical practices not in conformity with the Liturgical practices of Holy Mother Church. This is how you end up with groups forming their own church within the church. This is not right. We have one church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, governed by the Vicar of Christ on earth, our beloved Holy Father Pope Francis, to whom alone we give our total obedience.

    1. I'm in agreement with most of the sentiments in this thread -- yes, the ringing of the bells prior to and during the consecration is a beautiful addition to the liturgy that should be encouraged. I'm a little hesitant to follow Fr. Blockley in his reasoning, however. Essentially, that the omission of the bells (an optional and not obligatory practice as indicated in the GIRM) necessarily leads to "people creating their own liturgical practices," or "forming their own church within the church." Just as ringing bells doesn't indicate that worshippers have an authentic understanding of the reality of the Eucharist, not ringing them doesn't necessarily indicate the reverse. I think this style of pastoral reasoning leads to division just as quickly as a 70's style guitar mass, because it presumes a set of conditions determines one's experience of the liturgy (or, one's faith itself) according to, literally, bells and whistles. So, yes, ring the bells. But let's not equate their use or omission with a determination of one's "authentic faith" or "total obedience". Our faith is built on a much more solid foundation.

  4. Correct, 6:37 AM. So easy to go down that slippery slope when we allow little infractions here and there...then they blow up big on our faces. We ought to remain vigilant against deviations in the guise of innovation.

  5. Neo priest celebrated the Mass at Cathedral, 7pm. Wasn't Fr. Michael. No bells. At the end after the kissing of the Nino, most people left when done. Others, waited because they knew it is right to wait for the priest to process out. Well he never did. He instead started to "visit" with parishioners while placing the Nino back. Choir stopped singing! All but one altar server waited, as he knew what was proper. I shook my head. Priest waves at the choir and finally makes his way to the sacristy.