I see they’re ringing all the church bells for fifteen minutes in Austria this Thursday at 8pm Roman time to mark the end of Pope Benedict’s papacy.
I think it’s a great idea, and at my suggestion the abbot has approved the same here. (1pm Collegeville time.) Well, ten minutes instead of fifteen, but I’ll take it. They still have some of the flair of the Hapsburgs over there, so that needed to be inculturated for Minnesota conditions.
It’s things like this, however small, that reinforce Catholic identity and bring our faith into daily life.
Now I’m thinking about bells for when the new Pope is elected. Perhaps the length could be tied in to the name the new Pope takes. Say, 10 minutes if it’s John Paul III, 5 if it’s Benedict XVII, 15 if it’s Paul VII, 30 if it’s John XXIV. And if it’s Pius XIII? Maybe a toller for 3 minutes?
Last time around, I was watching CNN when Joseph Ratzinger emerged as Benedict XVI. I immediately said to the person with me, “Let us pray for the new Pope” and said the first half of the Hail Mary. Silence. No response. Then this: “I’m not ready to pray for THAT yet.”
I pushed to have bells rung that time, too, in 2005. And so it happened. At least the part about starting the bells, but we never talked through how long they’d ring. So they rang, and rang, and rang… until after about 25 minutes a faculty member sent an email to the university list serve asking how long the clanging noise would interfere with his classroom discussion.
I expect we’ll ring the bells for 15 minutes when the new Pope emerges, whoever it is and whatever his name. And I will say a Hail Mary for the new Pope. This time I’m prepared to say the whole thing myself.