Picture the scene: The pealing bells of distance churches in a bucolic Dutch town which has been going on for centuries. There’s something beautiful about how the sound of bells calls out to something spiritual inside of us.
Cut to 2007: A priest is being slapped with a euro5,000 (US$6,700) fine each time he rings his church bell to call his flock to early morning mass.
Municipal officials in Tilburg, 115 kilometres south of Amsterdam, urged Rev. Harm Schilder for months to stop ringing the bell of the Holy Margarita Maria Church each weekday at 7:15 a.m., municipality spokesman Thomas Heesters said Friday.
The officials are saying neighbors are complaining. I’m going to venture a guess and say that those bells were ringing there before those people bought their homes around the church.
The church’s website had a message for complaining neighbours: “You are in our prayers.” That’s a good response.
Legally, the parish has a right to ring the bell so I’m sure a legal fight will ensue. The interesting thing to me is that I didn’t think anyone in that part of the world went to church anymore. I’m just surprised there’s anyone to be called into the church. Actually, some news reports are stating that the morning service is usually attended by between five and 15 people.
But wouldn’t you hope that the bells would inspire some on a random morning to consider the realm of spirits surrounding us? Maybe it still will. Maybe the wonderful sound of bells will still change the hearts of this crabby township and they will accept Jesus into their hearts. You think?