Many of them, like Fr. Chadwick, are there [in the ACC] mainly because of the “smells and bells.”
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Mmm… I am very rarely in England these days, so joining a Church because it uses incense and jangles bells at various points of the Mass would seem pointless.
Most of the time, my Mass is a Low Mass, because I am alone or with a couple of ladies as the congregation. Therefore I hardly ever use the sacring bell, and I make the effort to use incense (which is quite awkward when one is alone at the altar) on the very big feasts. I have some very nice Greek and Egyptian incense. Perhaps I should make the effort more frequently.
The term bells & smells seems to suggest the use of the sacring bell and incense just for the fun of it, without their having any true liturgical meaning. This is often the criticism levelled at Anglo-Catholics inspired by the old Ritualist movement, which actually was deeply social in its content and involved some very saintly priests, some of whom were prepared to go to prison for “non-conformity” to the 1662 Prayer Book. The bell is simply a signal to the faithful, and incense symbolises our ascending prayer and worship of the divine. It was always associated with the Sacrifice of the Old Testament. God always revealed himself in a veil of smoke, the smoke being a constant symbol of the divine presence in the Old Testament. If I just want to have fun, I have other things to do like going out in the boat (I did today during a brief “weather window”) or seeing films. I have been a priest for over fifteen years, and there has been plenty of time for the “novelty” to wear off.
Again, criticism helps us to reflect on the things we often take for granted.