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Answering the bell

There was a time not so long ago when the ringing of church bells to mark the major hours of the day was as common as the sunrise.  Now we come to find out that in some places it can get the pastor of that church thrown in jail.  It may well be that this will be overturned on further appeal and will simply blow away as the dust of another silly judicial decision.  Or it may indeed be, as Fr. Zehnle suggests, the beginning of a new level of persecution.

For my part, let me just ask this:  if we as Catholics hadn’t given away this tradition, both in building new churches without bell towers and in a concession to the surrounding culture, would this even be a question of the free exercise of religion?  Put another way, when we decide to drop a tradition en masse, how can we later claim its practice to be an important part of the practice of our faith?  Lesson learned:  be careful when deciding something isn’t important to the faith – you might just have a problem getting it back later.

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