Monday, November 29, 2010

The bells of Saint Sebastian.....

The bells of Saint Sebastian...

We are now entering the most beautiful time of the year! Happy Advent everyone! Advent is a time to rejoice. It is a time that is filled with love, hope, meaning, and purpose. It is a time of reconciliation, anticipation, and self evaluation. I hope the weeks leading up to Christmas are filled with many blessings for all of you!
I thought, during this very special time of year, I would share a personal story with all of you. I grew up in a working middle class neighborhood. No one in my neighborhood had much wealth but it was a community that was very rich in many other ways. Neighbors looked out for and helped one another. Neighbors were involved, committed, and really got to know each other. Most of them formed life long relationships with one another. It was a very warm and safe place to grow up.
Nestled at the edge of the end of the community where I lived was a Catholic Church called Saint Sebastian. It was established in 1949. It was close enough to my home that I could easily ride my bike there which I did many times while growing up. I attended catechism classes there for many years. Two of my uncles, on my mother's side, actually helped to physically build the church and according to one of my cousins, they're names, along with the others are some where on a plaque near the front of the church.

I don't get back to my old neighborhood much any more but when the opportunity presents itself I find myself drawn to my old parish. To this day the doors of the church are not locked, at least the times I have visited there, but now the church does have a twenty four hour monitoring system.
One of the many things I always loved about this church was the church bells. Bells that rang out at different times through out the day. Sometimes the bells put me in a panic like when I realized I had better hurry or I would be late for mass. Other times I found them extremely sad like the day they rang out at my mothers funeral. Most of the time though I found them to be very beautiful and comforting. Especially when I used to sit in one of the a pews waiting for mass to begin. To me they were a consistent reminder that God was there and watching over our little community. I have to say that the whole time I was growing up I never once heard of any one complaining about the bells.
I was very disheartened to learn that there are those living in the community now that would like to stop the bells from ringing. They are complaining that the bells and music are just to loud. Although the parish has tried to work with them, and have turned the volume down, apparently that was not enough. They have now petitioned the city council, bringing the local government into the mix.

I was so shocked when I learned of this that I googled church bells to see if any other churches have been faced with a similar situation. I did find another church, in another state, in which this occurred. I can't help but hope that this is not the start of some sort of a slow moving trend. It would be hard to imagine living in a world without church bells.
I would very much like to hear your thoughts? I realize we are all different in our likes and dislikes. Are you bothered by the ringing of church bells or do you find them soothing like I do?

Saint Sebastian has gone through restorations like many other parishes through the years but there are little things that have remained the same. It is still quite beautiful! As I was standing there all alone in the quiet of the moment with tears in my eyes taking these lovely pictures it truly felt like I had come home.
It is my hope and prayer that those disgruntled in the community will find a way to work with the church, without government involvement, and that the bells of Saint Sebastian, like in the past, will be allowed to ring on forever.
With warmest regards, Carol


Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Dear Carol
May the bells of Saint Sabastion ring forever... It is a beautiful church, I cannot understand anyone complaining about church bells. The sound always comforts me and at times, brings me to tears.. When I was young, I attended catechism at Saint Catherines. I could hear the bells as we came within blocks, and I loved it..
What a beautiful story of your childhood.. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

Ann Nichols said...

Dear Carol,
I too love church bells. Do you know, for the more than 400 years of Turkish occupation in what we now call modern Greece (ancient Greece included, among other areas, almost all of Asia Minor)church bells were not allowed to be rung. People have written that hearing the bells rung again in Christ's honor as their independence was won from the occupying force was one of the greatest things. Church bells have forever gone silent over the most Christian land the world ever knew - Asia Minor. It is very important not to let the bells of St. Sabastion go silent. It could be the start of an infection that could have consequences throughout America.
May God bless you in your bid to fight this secularization (is that all it is?).
Thanks you for sharing the history of this beautiful church building.
In Christ,

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good morning dearest Carol...OH! HI PENNY AND ANN! Two dear friends....Carol, this was a precious post...I too have a childhood much like yours and the local church was a place where not only parishoners met, but our family was a huge part of the activities that went on. What a delight to see your neighborhood. Delight in all the small moments dear friend and do you have snow yet? Have a great day, Anita

Madeline's Album said...

This was a very wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your childhood church and memories with us. It is very similar to my growing up and attending mass and catechism. I love church bells and I hope and pray they will continue to ring out from Saint Sabastion. Have a blessed day. The photos are just beautiful. Madeline

Vee said...

Carol, your story of Saint Sebastion's and the bells reminded me that this did happen in my community. The Congregational Church had a beautiful set of bells that rang every Sunday morning at 9:30 as a call to worship. There was complaining and the bells stopped. I was sad because I loved hearing those bells. Now the Congregational Church is out of existence here and is instead the historical society. Sigh.

I remember reading about a person who complained about the nativity scene in his town's park. The nativity was removed, but then everyone who thought that was outrageous, placed one on their own front lawn. The town had never seen so many nativities. I hope that your community can find a way to save the bells of Saint Sabastion's.

Eileen said...

Carol, I LOVE hearing church bells. We have so many Churches in our town (two Catholic Churches in walking distance, a Methodist Church down the block from us, a Lutheran Church a few blocks away and a Greek Orthodox Church on the opposite corner from the Lutheran Church, an Episcopalian Church a few blocks away, and a Russian Orthodox Church on that same block. And I enjoy hearing the bells ring from each and every one of them! It is a beautiful thing!
And all these churches will have services together once in awhile, and on special days they will all ring their bells together at the same time (such as commemorating 9/11). I will be so sad if this beautiful tradition is halted.

Just this past weekend my sisters and I visited our old neighborhood too, and we stopped into the Church that we were all Baptized in and where we made our First Communion. It was such a bittersweet day.

Thank you for this post.
'Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.
Love and Prayers,

♥ Kathy said...

I love church bells & can't imagine anyone complaining :( I hope it all works out!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dearest Carol, thank you for coming by! Yes, Ruben is a charm and quite a remarkable soul! I AM BLESSED!


Valerie@travelingthrough2 said...

I love hearing the church bells and hope they will not stop in the little town you grew up in.

Anonymous said...

Have nice memories of staying with my grandparents because not far from their home a church played chimes -- its how we knew it was lunch time! Just comforting sound anytime of year but especially in Winter time!
The small town I live in a few years back just got chimes at the Baptist church-only one neighbor of church complained but they just turned the sound down a little and we are enjoying the church bells was too long in getting them! It just is a nice addition to the town! Merry Christmas-- I enjoy your posts!

Charli and me said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments.
Thank you Karyl.I'm so glad you like my posts. I hope you have a very merry Christmas as well.

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