I remember when I first started re-discovering my love for the Catholic faith, I attended Mass at a beautiful church (Saint Brigid in Johns Creek, GA) that had the tabernacle and crucifix displayed prominently up front. The church I had been attending did not have this, so when I walked into this church, it moved me profoundly. During the consecration I heard these beautiful bells ringing, which called to my attention the miracle that was taking place upon the altar and helped to connect me in a deep and mysterious way to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
I love the crucifix. I love the tabernacle not stuck in a corner, I love that Catholic Churches have the altar front and center. I love to watch the priests and deacon kiss the altar when they enter and leave Mass. I love the bells, the candles, the incense, the statues, the oils, the vestments, the stained glass windows . . . all of it. These little traditions and sacramentals all mean something, and make the Mass all the more meaningful and beautiful. They all help me in all my human failings and distractions to focus on what is really going on at Mass. Are they necessary for the validity of the sacrament? No. But can they help one to truly appreciate and recognize the beauty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Yes!
When we see incense being used in our churches, it is meant to remind us of heaven, and that our worship of God in the Christian liturgy is divine in origin. It also reminds us to pray, and that our prayer rises to God like the smoke from the censer, purifying our worship of God, and allowing his Holy Spirit to work in us to make us holy.
In an era where a tragically large number of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the ringing of Sanctus bells can help one focus on the miracle that takes place upon the altar. For me,at least, I love the bells and all of our beautiful traditions, which are a very powerful devotional aid during Mass, and a rich sacramental tradition of the Church