When I was chaplain of the high school and we were building the new campus, at one point I was seeking information about electronic carillon systems so that we could have the possibility to ring bells on campus. This was a wish that never materialized.

Anyway, a certain company (which I think more or less has a monopoly) forthwith sent me loads of information about various types of systems, from electronic to The Real Thing, along with all sorts of literature extolling the benefits of tolling bells.

One of the problems nowadays, of course, is that we live in an aggressively secular culture that demands tolerance in the face of so many realities but is insistently intolerant when it comes to certain others. And one of these targets of intolerance has been, in so many cases, the ringing of church bells. It is an unwelcome sound for some – apparently for a growing number.

So this company that was seeking my business included in their literature the alleged fact that the Supreme Court, in 1989, wrote a decision in favor of the ringing of church bells and citing even a “moral obligation” for them to be rung. I have never been able to find a Supreme Court decision dealing with this, in 1989 or any other year, but I would love to find it if it exists. “If it’s not true it should be!” That little detail aside, it also cited an article (which I have yet to track down) talking about how bells have a civilizing effect, reminding us of an authority higher than ourselves, and effectively raising the moral tone of the area where they are rung.

All of that makes good sense to me.

I think some people find church bells offensive because it bothers their conscience. Anyway, I ramble…

The bells pealing at the Church of Santa Maria in Portico in Campitelli, Rome.

There is no shortage of bells ringing at regular intervals throughout the day in the city of Rome, or in many other places in Europe for that matter. It is one of the things that makes it so charming.

Hopefully some day the high school will have its bells – whether electronic or ‘real’ – and they will ring freely, sounding the Angelus at noon and perhaps playing hymns as the students leave school. That is in the hands of Providence and those who lead the school.

But will it still be legal at that time? Who knows. Let’s hope so! Our society needs to hear church bells. It also needs to hear and see us, bearing witness to the Lord for whom those bells ring in praise and prayer, praying for the souls for whom the bells toll, and sharing in the joy of those for whom the bells peal.

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7 Responses to Pealing

  1. Lorrie says:

    Tolling bells at JPII! Truly love this idea.

  2. Johanna says:

    Our church (Episcopal) and the Roman Catholic church here have actual bells that are rung.

  3. Father Bresowar says:

    “Fly Like a Falcon”, that’s what the bells would ring at JPII.

  4. Patty Tucker says:

    We have a church in Mentone, AL, St. Joseph’s on the Mountain Episcopal Church, that has both the real bell and the electronic chimes that play church hymns. I have just returned from Mentone where I heard the bell peal the hour at 4:00 p.m. CST. So beautiful!! I hope your dream of bells at JPII does become a reality for the school.

  5. Wow, Phillip. That’s very interesting.

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