By Faithful Friar
One of the primary functions of our “100 plus” foot Bell Tower is to signal our Community that it is time to gather together and worship the Lord. We are part of a centuries old stream of Church tradition, calling the people of God to worship with the tolling of bells. It is appropriate that the steady rhythm of our daily offices should be summoned by the steady tolling of a bell. Fifteen minutes before each service of Midday and Vespers offices (Evensong on Saturdays), a single bell is tolled 40 times.
It is said this tradition began in Monastic houses in the early centuries of Christianity, St. Martin of Tours perhaps being the first to build a tower with large bells, like our own, in the 4th century. As we grow with our own bells, I feel certain our commitment to this time-honored practice will root us more firmly in our calling to the worship of God.
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”!