US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Finding God in the "smells and bells"

By Emily Sanna| Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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“Catholics live in an enchanted world, a world of statues and holy water, stained glass and votive candles, saints and religious medals, rosary beads and holy pictures,” writes Andrew Greeley. Protestants dismissively refer to this as “smells and bells”—unnecessary pageantry that gets in the way of experiencing God. But Catholics have always understood that these images, scents, smells, and even gestures are holy. The incense at Mass reminds us of our prayers rising to God. Making the sign of the cross with holy water calls to mind our baptism.