Riding it Down

By Faithful Friar
The past few months have seen an exciting development in the bell-ringing band here at the Church of the Transfiguration bell tower at the Community of Jesus. For the first time since the bells were installed and we began ringing six years ago, a new “class” of bell-ringers signed up and began the process of learning the art and craft of English-style tower bell change-ringing. The “art” lies in the fact that this style allows for precision-timed ringing of tuned bells so they can be rung one after the other in ever-changing sequences (thus, “change ringing”). The “craft,” as one may imagine, lies in working with a hundreds- or thousands-pound object swinging freely on a large wheel back and forth through 360 degree turns, and attached to a very long rope which the ringer has to handle. He or she is surrounded by other ringers trying to do the same thing as they negotiate whatever pattern is being rung — a very practical lesson in commitment and community! It feels like “precision bull-riding” for quite a long time and takes lots of patience, endurance, and trust in your teachers. Again, perhaps a bit like living in a large community of people of varying ages, opinions, and abilities! But all the effort can really pay off if you “stay on the animal’s back” and learn to work with it — and with those around you. It is an especial joy and privilege to be the first generation of ringers here, and to already be passing on all we know to a new crop of ringers. As St. Benedict says, “We are, therefore…a school in the Lord’s service”!
TowerRingers
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About Faithful Friar

I am a 20+ year member of the Community of Jesus Brotherhood, so I live in the Friary with the other vowed brothers along with any novices or combination of guest/ resident men – young or old – who may be with us at any given time. Our vows are the same as any simple or solemnly professed Community member, with the addition of consecrated celibacy and poverty. I moved here shortly out of high school to study music for a summer. At the end of that summer I chose to stay here as a CJ member. Shortly thereafter I knew another change was needed, and asked to be accepted into the brotherhood first as a postulant, later as a novice. My life in the Brotherhood involves a variety of occupations, but they are centered on the continual service of prayer and praise in our church and on the outreach ministries springing from that service. This means manual labor as well as ongoing study and training: theological, musical, technical/ scientific, artistic, historical, philosophical, etc. Sometimes this involves teaching others, so that is part of our life too. It’s a life of poverty and yet full of hidden riches.

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