In his latest installment of “From the Chapel,” OSV publisher Scott Richert writes about the…
From the Chapel — March 28: Christ in our midst
“From the Chapel” is a series of short, daily reflections on life and faith in a time of uncertainty. As people across the world cope with the effects of the coronavirus — including the social isolation necessary to combat its spread — these reflections remind us of the hope that lies at the heart of the Gospel.
At the Easter Vigil, after weeks of Lenten Masses without the Gloria, the priest intones the opening words: “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Then, as the choir and the rest of the congregation join in, every bell in the church is rung, and, if the church has a bell tower, those bells are tolled, too. The return of the Gloria is a glorious thing (no pun intended), and the ringing of the bells invites all who can hear them, both inside and outside the Church (in both senses of both words), to join in the joy of Christ’s resurrection.
About two weeks ago, I wrote that “In times like these — but not only in times like these — we need more bells in our lives,” to remind us both of our mortality (“It tolls for thee”) but also of our hope in the Resurrection. During this time of social isolation, my family and I have been comforted by the bells of St. Mary’s and Sts. Peter and Paul, the two Catholic churches of Huntington that sit one block apart, with our house in between. Both Father Steve Colchin, the pastor of St. Mary’s, and Father Tony Steinacker, the pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul, have decided to continue to ring the bells not only for the Angelus and to mark the hours, but when Mass was held back in the days when our parishes could assemble to worship God in his holy temple.
Earlier this week, I started noticing, at odd times, short bursts of bells from Sts. Peter and Paul — anywhere from 7:15 to 7:25 p.m. While talking to Father Tony on Thursday, he mentioned that, after locking the church every night at 7 p.m. (it is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament), he celebrates Mass privately. During the elevation of the host and of the chalice, he triggers a remote control that rings the bells, as the server would ring the bells in the sanctuary, were there a server.
So all of us within earshot of Sts. Peter and Paul can hear the 7 p.m. bells and know that Mass has started (well, that Mass will start in two minutes) and unite ourselves in prayer to the sacrifice being offered at the altar. And then, when the bells ring again, we know that the body and blood of Christ are being elevated in our midst.
Learning that brought great joy to my heart, and a memory of Catholic Churches (or at least a Catholic church) having done that at some point in my life. I can’t remember when or where, but I hope that other parishes will consider following Father Tony’s lead during this time — and that both he and other priests will continue to announce the presence of Christ through the tolling of the bells when this crisis is finally at an end.
Scott P. Richert is publisher for OSV.