When to Take Up a Second Collection

And More on Bells at Consecration

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ROME, SEPT. 6, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: Many parishes are required to take up a second collection during Mass. I have witnessed this second collection being taken up immediately after Communion. I believe the liturgy calls for a period of silence or a meditation hymn during this period. Is it appropriate to take up the collection after Communion? It seems disrespectful and distracting. When would be a good time to take up a second collection? — B.K., Baltimore, Maryland

A: According to the general liturgical norms, any announcements, testimonies, appeals and the like should be made following the Prayer after Communion and before the final blessing and this would appear to be the most appropriate moment.

If necessary the people may be invited to sit once more while the appeal or collection is being made.

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Follow-up: Bells at the Consecration

A reader from Crawfordsville, Indiana, has added some very informative comments to our piece on the use of bells during Mass (Aug. 23).

He writes: «Apropos your fine response to the question of ringing bells at the consecration, it may interest you to know that the issue is perhaps a bit more complicated than you suggest. Father Adrian Fortescue, so much lionized by liturgical traditionalists for his rubrical manual of the old rite, […] was not a fan of bells, and points out in his ‘History of the Roman Mass’ that there was much variation in Europe about when they were rung. He says that traditionally bells were never rung at St. Peter’s in Rome at the consecration, where the papal liturgy continued right through the reforms to be an odd combination of extreme Baroque elaboration and pre-medieval archaism. I suspect that after the papal liturgy was essentially abolished by Paul VI, and replaced with the ordinary Mass the Pope now celebrates, bells were later restored on the false assumption that they had been used, and there were not enough clerics left in the papal household who remembered the old tradition to set people straight.»

Certainly Dr. Fortescue (1874-1923) was no fan of liturgical fastidiousness in spite of having penned what he termed his «dreadful ceremonies book.»

As he wrote in 1920 before attempting the correction of the book’s first edition: «Not one halfpennyworth of principle or of historic research is affected by the question whether the thurifer should stand on the left or on the right at any given moment. I would just as soon spend hours verifying the hours at which trains start on some railway line that I shall never use.»

His distaste for liturgical minutiae was apparent and it ironically fell to one of his sharpest critics, Canon J.B. O’Connell, to correct and review the subsequent 12 editions. Notwithstanding the author’s reservations, the book remains a valuable resource for the knowledge of the previous rite and for clarifications regarding some aspects not covered in the present books. All the same, I have often found L. Trimeloni’s Italian «Compendio di Liturgia Pratica» (1963), more complete and better referenced.

As with thurifers, so with bells et al. Many liturgical customs arose from practical concerns and only later became codified into law with the result that what may have arose as a simple pastoral solution, or a gesture of courtesy, was transformed into a strict obligation.

While one sometimes desires greater clarity and precision from the present liturgical books, in general we can be grateful that they no longer attempt to legislate each and every detail and allow for reasonable adaptations to concrete circumstances.

I think we should see the question of the use, or non-use, of the bells at St. Peter’s in this light. I believe that the use of this bell dates from somewhere toward the middle of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, for I remember assisting at some Masses where it was not yet used.

I think therefore that the question asked was not so much if this bell forms part of papal tradition but rather if it serves a legitimate pastoral purpose at a papal Mass. Evidently, the response is that it certainly does.

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