Friday, August 17, 2007

Speaking of ding-a-lings...

AMSTERDAM: A Dutch priest has been fined 5,000 euros ($6,800) for ringing his church bells too loudly in the morning.

This reminds me so much of the South End of Boston, where I—happily—do not live anymore.

I remember when I first moved there [insert memory-evoking harp music here]...

...and was startled by the fact that, despite the number of Christian churches of all denominations, not a bell could be heard. Not even on Sundays! Why was that, I wondered?

Somebody told me that when the neighborhood underwent "gentrification" (horrible word) the New and Monied Residents complained about the noise. And so the bells were silenced.

Here in Roxbury...

It's a different story. Perhaps we aren't "gentrified" yet but on every hour and half hour (and in some instances, the quarter hour) churches ring their chimes. I like it. For one thing, it's a great way to tell the time!

Except for perhaps Gay Pride Week, the South End eschews noise of any sort.

I remember, during the height of the Scandal, scores of protesters regularly screamed outside my parish church: Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End.

Across the street, residents of a glitzy new high-rise across the street held a protest of their own...while they didn't really care about the issues—pervert clergy, clericalism, women's ordination, homosexual rights, etc, etc—they did care, and passionately so, about something:

They wanted to sleep in, bleep it, it was Sunday!!!!!

And so they complained to the then rector of the parish, Monsignor Fred Murphy, who dutifully passed on the complaint to the, by then, totally beleaguered Bernard Cardinal Law. A bunch of us were there, having successfully crossed the gauntlet of protesters and screamers and panting from exertion from the effort.

Cardinal Law raised his tired eyes, smiled a little sadly, shook his head slightly, and then raised his voice surprisingly, saying:

"Thank them. Tell them that I am grateful to find still more common ground with those who are angry with me and with my brother bishops.

"Tell them that now I can find a reason to support anyone who cares to make noise outside of this Cathedral.

"Tell them to think of these people as an alarm clock and to get out of bed and get to church!"

That, along with his homily at the funeral Mass of his friend John Cardinal O'Connor, are just two instances of Cardinal Law at his best.

Dear Father Dutch priest: I don't want you to be fined for ringing your bells too loudly, understand. But on the other hand, I do appreciate your efforts to wake people up.