Ring Out, Wild Bells

Emily Glicksman // Genius of the Call


January 6  

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, 

The flying cloud, the frosty light;

The year is dying in the night;

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.


Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite;

Ring in the love of truth and right,

Ring in the common love of good.


Ring out old shapes of foul disease,

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;

Ring out the thousand wars of old,

Ring in the thousand years of peace.


Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand;

Ring out the darkness of the land,

Ring in the Christ that is to be.


The above is an excerpt from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Ring Out, Wild Bells,” to which I was introduced via a Christmas card this year. The imagery struck me as especially true this year with our pandemic, our political discord, our woundedness. 

As mothers, we are especially fit to lead the multitude in ringing out the old and ringing in the new, ringing out discord and ringing in peace, ringing out the devil and ringing in Christ. 

Every day, every hour for many of us, we attempt to usher out the bad behavior of our children and beseech them to usher in new. We encourage them to step away from their bad habits, to take a moment and collect themselves, to begin again.

And that is what we are all called to, not only at the start of this year, but each and every day of 2021. And we are not alone in this great task. Mary, God’s mother and ours, accompanies us each step along the way, as does St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse, to whom we are called, this year, to foster special devotion. In addition to these power players, we are invited each and every day of this year to remember our fellow Christian witnesses who spent their lives ringing out the old and ringing in the new.  

Today, we remember St. André Bessette, whose simple and faithful witness of caring for guests at the college of Notre Dame in Quebec allowed him to cultivate his devotion to St. Joseph. He also cut hair, and it was his hair-cutting nest egg that built the shrine to St. Joseph on the property of the college. 

A simple man, St. Andre Bessette was surprised when people flocked to him after hearing reports of people healed after spending time praying with him. He, of course, knew St. Joseph was responsible. 

And so it will be with us if we cling to the foster father of our Lord this year. Our simple correcting of children, our simple serving of God’s people, will allow us time and time again to ring out the old and ring in the new.  

Through the help and support of Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Andre Bessette, and the entire communion of saints, may we never tire of ringing out the old and ringing in the new. And may our hearts be enlarged and our hands be made kind in the process of so doing.

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