Sunday, December 23, 2007


...if it's not happening at Mass

For those on a certain message board I once frequented, here's the skinny on liturgical dance. (PHT to the Catholic Caveman) The first, dated 1975, comes from the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, which is now known as the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship

Dancing and Worship

The dance has never been made an integral part of the official worship of the Latin Church.

If local churches have accepted the dance, sometimes even in the church building, that was on the occasion of feasts in order to manifest sentiments of joy and devotion. But that always took place outside of liturgical services.

Conciliar decisions have often condemned the religious dance because it conduces little to worship and because it could degenerate into disorders.

However, the same criterion and judgment [that apply to the Eastern Rites] cannot be applied in the western culture.Here dancing is tied with love, with diversion, with profaneness, with unbridling of the senses: such dancing, in general, is not pure.

For that reason it cannot be introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind whatever: that would be to inject into the liturgy one of the most desacralized and desacralizing elements; and so it would be equivalent to creating an atmosphere of profaneness which would easily recall to those present and to the participants in the celebration worldly places and situations.

Neither can acceptance be had of the proposal to introduce into the liturgy the so-called artistic ballet because there would be presentation here also of a spectacle at which one would assist, while in the liturgy one of the norms from which one cannot prescind is that of participation.

If the proposal of the religious dance in the West is really to be made welcome, care will have to be taken that in its regard a place be found outside of the liturgy, in assembly areas which are not strictly liturgical. Moreover, the priests must always be excluded from the dance.

Second, this, from Francis Cardinal Arinze, whom people from said message board had once referred to the good Cardinal as "clueless".

Has liturgical dance been approved for Masses by your office?

There has never been a document from our Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments saying that dance is approved in the Mass.The question of dance is difficult and delicate. However, it is good to know that the tradition of the Latin Church has not known the dance. It is something that people are introducing in the last ten years -- or twenty years. It was not always so. Now it is spreading like wildfire, one can say, in all the continents -- some more than others. In my own continent, Africa, it is spreading. In Asia, it is spreading.

Now, some priests and lay people think that Mass is never complete without dance. The difficulty is this: we come to Mass primarily to adore God -- what we call the vertical dimension. We do not come to Mass to entertain one another. That's not the purpose of Mass. The parish hall is for that.

So all those that want to entertain us -- after Mass, let us go to the parish hall and then you can dance. And then we clap. But when we come to Mass we don't come to clap. We don't come to watch people, to admire people. We want to adore God, to thank Him, to ask Him pardon for our sins, and to ask Him for what we need.

Most dances that are staged during Mass should have been done in the parish hall. And some of them are not even suitable for the parish hall.

I saw in one place -- I will not tell you where -- where they staged a dance during Mass, and that dance was offensive. It broke the rules of moral theology and modesty. Those who arranged it -- they should have had their heads washed with a bucket of holy water! [laughter]

Doesn't sound like someone clueless to me. I'm sure there will be another Religious Mis-edu-ma-cation Congress coming to L.A. pretty soon. Perhaps we should put these two statements from the Vatican and from Cdl. Arinze in a pamphlet and circulate, let's say, truckloads of these, between Los Angeles and Anaheim (the Religious Misedumacation Congress usually has their convention in Anaheim, if I'm not mistaken). Maybe the message board that booted me after I told them off for calling the Cardinal "clueless" (and the national organization that runs said message board) could use such a pamphlet too.


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