Can you imagine Christmas without "Jingle Bells" and "Sleigh bells ring ..."? These bell songs bring feelings of comfort and great joy.
What do ringing bells mean to us?
One of the best answers is a story told to me by a veteran of World War II. He describes the splattered blood, the trees blown into toothpicks, the holes in the ground. The saddest part is the death of his friends and buddies. He sobs as he remembers how they tried to talk to their mothers in the last moments of agony before they died. There was one good memory, a memory that gave him great joy in the midst of terrible suffering and constant death.
What was that memory? The bells. He remembers the bells ringing. The bells of freedom. As the Allied soldiers would chase out the enemy soldiers and enter the towns, the people in the town would ring the church bells. Bells that rang out the joy of freedom from oppression. Bells that rang out the joy that their lives were restored to normal. Now we can live our lives the way we did before we were oppressed by the enemy. The bells of freedom. "My country tis of thee.... From every mountain side, Let freedom ring." The Liberty Bell is a prized American symbol of freedom. The Holy Father often speaks about freedom and love; freedom and faith that leads to the great hope of everlasting friendship with God and each other. This is the deepest yearning of all mankind. It is what our hearts desire the most. Bells express freedom better than any other musical instrument. At Christmas we ring the bells because we are celebrating our freedom from the slavery and oppression of sin and death. Our Savior is coming into our world, into our town to free us. The Salvation Army rings bells that bring in donations, signaling freedom from hunger, homelessness and all types of poverty.
May the joyous bells of freedom resound in your ears and hearts at every Mass.