Note from CM: This weekend my hours will be marked by church bells. They ring from the tower of Gethsemani Abbey, calling the countryside to pause, look up, and acknowledge that redemption has drawn nigh. The first church I served had a small foyer inside the entry door where one could reach up and pull a rope to ring the bell. We rang it on Sunday mornings to call our little village to remember that God is in our midst and all are welcome at his table. As Thomas Merton reminds us, the bells are God’s watchmen, announcing Christ’s reign, which is available to all people, for the renewal of all creation.
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Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to Him, that we are not living for this world.
They break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important.
They speak to us of our freedom, which responsibilities and transient cares make us forget.
They are the voice of our alliance with the God of heaven.
They tell us that we are His true temple. They call us to peace with Him within ourselves.
The Gospel of Mary and Martha is read at the end of the Blessing of a Church Bell in order to remind us of all these things.
The bells say: business does not matter. Rest in God and rejoice, for this world is only the figure and the promise of a world to come, and only those who are detached from transient things can possess the substance of an eternal promise.
The bells say: we have spoken for centuries from the towers of great Churches. We have spoken to the saints, your fathers, in their land. We called them, as we call you, to sanctity. What is the word with which we called them?
We did not merely say, “Be good, come to Church.” We did not merely say “Keep the commandments” but above all, “Christ is risen, Christ is risen!” And we said, “Come with us, God is good, salvation is not hard, His love has made it easy!” And this, our message, has always been for everyone, for those who came and for those who did not come, for our song is as perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect and we pour our charity out upon all.
– from Thoughts In Solitude
by Thomas Merton