Friday, June 01, 2018

Traditional Baptism of a Bell Celebrated in Omaha

Here’s something which we have never shown before on NLM, the blessing of a church bell according to the traditional rite. The ceremony was done this past Sunday at St Barnabas Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska, a church of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, by His Excellency Elden Curtiss, Archbishop Emeritus of Omaha. Since it was done at an Anglican Use church, the blessing followed the original version of the Pontifical of Clement VIII, whch the Anglicans very wisely elected to followed, rather than the drastically mutilated version promulgated in 1961: yet another reason to rejoice at the creation of the Ordinariate Rite. These photos by Mr Mel Bohn are reproduced from the parish’s Facebook page, with the permission of the pastor, Fr Jason Catania.

The bell is suspended in such a way that it can easily be touched on both the inside and outside, and so that the bishop can walk around it.
In according with the long-standing custom that bells are named for Saints, this bell is called Leo, after Pope St Leo I.
The bishop wears a white cope and miter. A faldstool is place near the bell, at which the bishop sits for the beginning of the ceremony, while the choir recites a group seven psalms without an antiphon. (These are Psalms 51, 54, 57, 67, 70, 86 and 130, according to the Hebrew numbering traditionally used in Anglican Bibles.)
The bishop then makes holy water with the normal blessing found in the Ritual and in the Missal, which is also used elsewhere in the ceremonies of the Pontifical. However, before the mingling of the water and salt, he adds the following prayer, which is unique to this blessing.

“Bless, O Lord, this water with a heavenly benediction, and may the power of the Holy Ghost come upon it, so that when this vessel, prepared to call together the children of the Holy Church, has been washed with it, there may be kept far away from wheresoever this bell may sound, the power of those lying in wait, the shadow of spectres, the ravages of whirlwinds, the stroke of lightning, the damage of thunder, the disaster of tempests, and every breath of storm; and when the sons of Christians shall hear its ringing, may their devotion increase, so that hastening to the bosom of their loving mother the Church, they may sing to Thee, in the Church of the Saints, a new canticle, bringing therein to play the proud sounding of the trumpet, the melody of the harp, the sweetness of the organ, the joyous exultation of the drum, and the rejoicing of the cymbal; and so, in the holy temple of Thy glory by their service and their prayers, may they bid come the multitude of the angelic hosts. Through our Lord...”
The bishop begins the washing of the bell with the holy water, taking an aspergil and sprinkling it along the edge both inside and out. This is the part of the ceremony which has given it its traditional nickname, the “baptism” of a bell.
The washing is completed by the sacred ministers with sponges; the bell is washed inside and out, from top to bottom, and then dried. While this is done, the bishop sits at the faldstool, and with the other clergy present recites the final six psalms of the Psalter, without an antiphon; the last three, psalms 148, 149 and 150, are recited as a single psalm with a single doxology, as they are at Lauds.

The psalms being finished, the bishop rises, and makes a single cross on the outside of the bell with the Oil of the Sick.

He then says the following prayer, making the sign of the cross over it at the place marked.

“O God, who through the blessed Moses, the law giver, Thy servant, didst command that silver trumpets should be made, through which when sounded by the priests at the time of sacrifice, the people, reminded by their sweet strains, would make ready to worship Thee, and assemble to offer sacrifices, and encouraged to battle by their sounding, would overcome the onslaughts of their enemies; grant, we beseech Thee, that this vessel, prepared for Thy Holy Church, may be sancti+fied by the Holy Spirit, so that, through its touch, the faithful may be invited to their reward. And when its melody shall sound in the ears of the peoples, may the devotion of their faith increase; may all the snares of the enemy, the crash of hail-storms and hurricanes, the violence of tempests be driven far away; may the deadly thunder be weakened, may the winds become salubrious, and be kept in check; may the right hand of Thy strength lay low the powers of the air, so that hearing this bell they may tremble and flee before the standard of the holy cross of Thy Son depicted upon it, to Whom every knee bows of those that are in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confesses that the same our Lord Jesus Christ, swallowing up death upon the gibbet of the cross, reigneth in the glory of God the Father, (Philippians 2, 10), with the same Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end. R. Amen.”
He wipes the cross off with a towel, and then intones the following antiphon, which is completed by choir, and sung with Psalm 29 Bring unto the Lord, from which it is taken.
Aña The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of majesty hath thundered, The Lord is upon many waters.

While this is sung,the bishop makes with the Oil of the Sick seven crosses on the outside of the bell, and with Chrism four on the inside. As he makes each cross, he says, “May this bell be sancti+fied and conse+crated, o Lord. In the name of the Fa+ther, and of the + Son, and of the Holy + Spirit. Unto the honor of Saint N. Peace to thee.”

At each place he anoints the bell twice, at the words “sanctified” and “consecrated”, and then makes the sign of the cross with his right hand over the same place three times at the words “In the name of the Father etc.” (This is similar to the practice by which various anointings are done during the consecration of a church.) He also names a saint to in whose honor the bell is dedicated.

The anointings being done, the bishop says the following prayer.

“Let us pray. Almighty, Eternal God, Who, by the sounding of trumpets before the Ark of the Covenant, didst cause to tumble down the stone walls within which the army of the enemy was entrenched, do Thou pour out upon this bell a heavenly bene+diction, so that at its sound, the fiery darts of the enemy, the stroke of lightning, the hail-storm and the damage of tempests may be driven far away; and to the prophet’s question, “What ailed thee, O sea, that thou didst flee?” (Psalm 114, 5) being driven back in their movements as was the river Jordan, they may give answer, “At the presence of the Lord, the earth was moved, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Who turned the rock into pools of water, and the stony hill into fountains of waters. Wherefore, not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy’s sake.” (Ps. 114, 7-8; 115, 1) And thus when this vessel here present, like the other vessels of the altar, is touched with Holy Chrism, anointed with Holy Oil, may all those who assemble at its call be free from all the temptations of the enemy, and always follow the teachings of Catholic faith. Through our Lord...”
The bishop washes his hands, and then imposes in a thurible or brazier a mixture of different kinds of incense and myrrh, called thymiama in the rubrics. This is then placed under the bell, in such a way that all of the smoke rises into the bell.

Meanwhile, the choir sings the following antiphon, and the last five verses of Psalm 77 (76), from which it is taken, with the doxology and the repetition of the antiphon.

Aña Thy way, O God, is in the holy place: who is the great God like our God?

The bishop then says the following prayer.

“Let us pray. Almighty Ruler, Christ, Who in the flesh, which Thou didst assume, were asleep in the boat, when the rising tempest disturbed the sea, which directly at Thy awakening and command did fall silent, come kindly to aid Thy people in their needs; pour out upon this bell the dew of Thy Holy Spirit, so that at its sound the enemy of the good may always flee, the Christian people may be invited to faith, the hostile army may be struck with terror; Thy people summoned together be comforted by it in the Lord, and, as if delighted with David’s harp, may the Holy Spirit come down from above. And even while Samuel was sacrificing the suckling lamb as a holocaust to the King of the Eternal Empire, the noise of the rushing winds drove away the multitude of his adversaries: so in like manner, when the sound of this vessel pierces the clouds, may angelic hands preserve the assembly of Thy Church; may everlasting protection save the fruits of those who believe, their souls and their bodies. Through Thee, O Christ Jesus, Who with God the Father livest and reignest in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen.”
The deacon then sings a Gospel, St Luke 10, 38-42, accompanied by the subdeacon and other ministers, with all of the usual ceremonies of a solemn Pontifical Mass. (This it the traditional Gospel for the feast of the Assumption. St Mary Magdalene is traditionally understood to represent the contemplative life in religion, and St Martha the active life; this Gospel is sung here to signify that the church bell rings to call the faithful to all the different activities that take place within the church.)

“At that time, Jesus entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord' s feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

The bishop makes the sign of the cross a final time over the bell, and departs.

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