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The bells ring - Lex Orandi.

One of the most striking memories I have retained from childhood is being part of a congregation in my home parish during the celebration of Mass. At what was then called the "elevations," a great hush of silence would prevail throughout the church. The only sound would be the ringing of the bells.

In the little Sunday missal that most of us used at the time, a little silent prayer was encouraged. At the elevation of the Body of Christ the words suggested were "My Lord and my God" (cf. the Apostle Thomas, John 20:28) and at the raising of the Precious Blood, "My God and my all." I didn't realize it at the time, but that was lex orandi, lex credendi. Freely rendered, it is, "As we pray, so will we learn to believe."

The lesson rubbed off, I believe, at least to some degree, on most of the Catholic church-goers of my time. But the lesson is not so effective these days. We still haven't got over the results of last year's nation-wide survey. One of its findings was that of church-going Catholics, only 30% believe in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Eucharist. This is, to say the least, tragic. What can we do? Maybe we should consider getting back to some lex orandi.

When the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus are in attendance in official garb at a Mass for an extraordinary situation--funeral, ordination, installation, anniversary, etc.--they unsheathe their swords at the elevations and hold them in salute before Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. I am impressed. I believe that's a good thing they do. That's lex orandi.

When the thurifer (the incense boy) kneels before the altar at the consecration and incenses the sacred elements, the same point is made. That's lex orandi.

I've been in a couple of parishes over the years where the words of institution are greeted by a few stirring notes of a trumpet. That's lex orandi.

I've been at weekend conferences where the attendees have been encouraged to acknowledge the Real Presence. They come upon the altar with an audible murmur of adoration, prayer, or singing. That's lex orandi.

When I was in Medjugorje for the first time in 1983, the altar boys raised their hands at the elevation, I was deeply touched and edified. That, too, was lex orandi. Say what we will about Medjugorje, there is no confusion there about Jesus' presence in the Eucharist.

The only things the liturgy prescribes at the elevation are, for the celebrant, a genuflection, and, for the con-celebrants, a deep bow. To those who maintain that these latter are enough, I'd have to reply--they don't seem to be working. I maintain that we need to add to what the liturgy prescribes, some things the liturgy can very well allow.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is lex orandi.

The extension of the hand at the greeting ("and also with you"), the raising of the hands in praise, clapping to the rhythm of some of the songs, spontaneous praise, and singing in the Spirit--all of which when done at the appropriate moments of the Mass are not prescribed by the Liturgy. But they are not proscribed either. They are quite appropriate, certainly not prohibited.

I say the more lex orandi the better. Perhaps, if it can be encouraged, if we can help to encourage it wherever we go, we can begin to see a significant rise in the lex credendi.

Fr. Bob Bedard is the founder of the Companions of the Cross and lives in Ottawa, ON.
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Author:Bedard, Robert
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
Words:597
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