Why do we ring bells at Mass?

Can you explain the reason for the bells in church at the consecration? I find them beautiful and making that moment particularly special.

The origin of the bells during the consecration traces back to the Middle Ages when Mass was not said in the vernacular and the words of consecration were spoken in a low voice that was not audible to the entire church. Some churches were also constructed in a manner in which it was difficult for people in the pews to see what was happening. Thus in those times the use of the bells had a very practical purpose of alerting the faithful in attendance that the most important part of the Mass was taking place. Over time the ringing of the bells became codified in liturgical law and continues as a “preferred” option to this very day. In our modern world with vernacular Masses, the priest and people facing the host, and better visually enhanced parishes the practical purposes of centuries ago no longer exist. However the bells remain ringing in many parishes due to their solemn reminder that something special and unique is happening during the words of consecration. It jolts awake daydreamers and awakens everyone’s human senses to the reality taking place before us. It is indeed a beautiful tradition and rightly continued into the future.

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