If any of you are Catholics, or not, perhaps you'd like to comment? I got this in an email from a lady who is a member of a parapsychology group. She did not provide a link to her information.
Feel like being labeled a heretic or a witch? Book, Bell, and Candle
refers to the excommunication ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. While we may scoff at the implications now, during the Middle Ages this could mean social shunning and dire consequences to one's standing in the community. The phrase, "Bell, Book and Candle" may bring you fond memories of a cute comedy film from 1958 starring Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart, but during the Middle Ages, this was a curse.
From "The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce.
This "excommunication" is a word
In speech ecclesiastical oft heard,
And means the damning, with bell, book and candle,
Some sinner whose opinions are a scandal --
A rite permitting Satan to enslave him
Forever, and forbidding Christ to save him.
This very serious form of excommunication was called "anathema" and found ("apostasy, heresy, or schism,") in the Roman Pontifical canon of 1364. So what was Bell, Book and Candle? It's unclear if the church still does this, but a bishop performs the rite with a bell, holy book and candle upon the altar. Twelve priests with lighted candles attend and the following is said:
'We separate him, together with his accomplices and abettors, from the precious body and blood of the Lord and from the society of all Christians; we exclude him from our holy mother the church in heaven and on earth; we declare him excommunicate and anathema; we judge him damned, with the devil and his angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire until he shall recover himself from the toils of the devil and return to amendment and to penitence."
The priests answer, "So be it!" The bell is rung to symbolize a death toll, the book is shut, and the candles are blown out and dashed to the ground to indicate the sinners soul being cast out of the church and away from the sight of God. Who says there is no magic in the church?
You can read more on excommunication here.
For more on Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary
, go here