This e-letter is from Karl Keating in Catholic Answers about the Religious Education Conference in Los Angeles, aka MahonyFest '06.
Mr. Keating begins to rave about his grand-niece, and says she may end up showing real talent...
Karl Keating (KK): Or at least enough to be a liturgical dancer, a position for which high skill does not seem to be a requirement. Let me prove it to you. If you have thirteen free minutes, watch this video:
LA-REC Liturgical Dance Video - server 1 (highspeed)
LA-REC Liturgical Dance Video - server 2 (low speed)
NOTE: links open new browser window to play the video
Brian Michael Page (BMP): I didn't exactly watch the full thirteen minutes. I probably watched four to five minutes, skipping around at times to see if anything worse would come around in future frames. Don't get me wrong it was ALL bad.
KK: It was taken April 2 at the concluding Mass of the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. The chief celebrant was Roger Cardinal Mahony. Total attendance at the Congress was 42,000, with 19,000 attending the final day's liturgies.
BMP: Ah yes, often referred to by my friends in the Blogosphere as "MahonyFest '06"
KK: Music at the concluding Mass was provided by what organizers called a "band": pianos, percussion instruments, guitars, electric bass, synthesizers--altogether 40 instrumentalists, plus a choir of 225. The director of music for the Congress, John Flaherty, said "we've worked diligently to inculturate the liturgy to accurately and authentically reflect the church of Los Angeles."
Inculturation has come at a high price.
BMP: Yes, at a very high price, like the expense of 19,000 souls at the final day alone, infected and infested by all this mockery.
KK: When you watch the liturgical dancers, you will shake your head over the lack of good taste. You will not mistake these folks for the June Taylor Dancers. Even if you make allowances for the dancers being amateurs, the video is painful to watch.
BMP: Painful especially for the soul. And, by the way, what was burning in that bowl of smoke one dancer was hoisting? I fear that might not have been your regular everyday approved liturgical incense. Perhaps several ounces of high-grade marijuana?
KK: Only a heartless viewer would not feel embarrassment on behalf of the dancers.
BMP: Amen, Mr. Keating!
KK: Here is what then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote about liturgical dancing in "The Spirit of the Liturgy":
"Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy. In about the third century, there was an attempt by certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. ... The cultic dances of the different religions have different purposes--incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy--none of which is compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy. ...
"It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy 'attractive' by introducing dancing pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes), which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals' point of view) end with applause. Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. ...
"I myself have experienced the replacing of the penitential rite by a dance performance, which, needless to say, received a round of applause. Could there be anything further removed from true penitence? ...
"None of the Christian rites includes dancing. What people call dancing in the Ethiopian rite or the Zairean form of the Roman liturgy is in fact a rhythmically ordered procession, very much in keeping with the dignity of the occasion."
KK continues: The dancing shown in the video was not part of a "rhythmically ordered procession." (The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has many ethnic parishes, but none for Ethiopian or Zairean Catholics, so far as I know.) No, what the video presents is a "performance" intruded into the Mass--and a sorry performance at that.
Did you watch John Paul II's funeral Mass, as celebrated by Cardinal Ratzinger? Compare its dignity and stateliness to what is shown on this video. It's as though the liturgists at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress inhabit another world.
Which, perhaps, they do.
BMP: The letter pretty much ends there. But you get the picture, I think. The entire thing was dispicable. And let's not dare forget those lovely KoolAid pitchers and beer pitchers, several of them, mind you, used for storage of the Precious Blood of Our Lord. Hideous, Horrendous, Insipid, Banal, and Vapid do not describe enough how bad this was. For those who get p***ed off over a simple comical addition of KoolAid Man on one of the pitchers, please realize how many fold the insult is to the Liturgy and Our Lord when blatant liturgical abuses take place while a Cardinal sits back, relaxes, watches, enjoys, and maybe even gets his vestments wet over, in the middle of the stage! KoolAid Man's face is miniscule compared to that!