April 15, 2008

The Abomination of Desolation

Liturgical Dancing

A misnamed art form if there ever was one. I’m checking the GIRM and I can’t find the section where it says there is to be dancing during the liturgy of Holy Mass. Gentle Reader, maybe you can help me out?

It’s rarely couples dancing. I’ve seen a lot of this dancing (I don’t know what to call it: Crap? Stretching?). It usually involves individuals (primarily women) in skin tight leotards with a diaphanous dress or skirts over it sashaying around in bare feet using long dragging steps with dramatically flourishing arm stretches. I always wish they could reach for the stars and grab it or just do the Yoga Corpse pose and die already and put us all out of our misery! It’s like watching an exercise class. I’d rather watch an exercise class than participate, but I’d rather go to Mass to watch the Lord and participate in the Liturgy as IT SHOULD BE than watch a live commercial for Jane’s Tai-Chi class unfolding before my eyes!!!!

I’ve NEVER been a fan of this, this, this... Even in my dissident days, my teeth clenched when we had to sit there and endure the, er, interlude of dancing. When dancing looks like something I do when I’m imitating Robin Williams in The Bird Cage, I have a hard time thinking this is really advanced art or even something I can watch without laughing. I don’t know about you, but when I’m laughing during Mass it’s usually at human ridiculousness not anything The Christ does (Oh, He was such a funny guy! The Sermon on the Mount-hilarious! Condescending to enter the Bread and the Wine so we can consume Him-what a side-splitter!). What liturgical foolery will be next? Chant karaoke?

This is nothing but paganism inserted into the liturgy. Proponents will tell you; it’s a celebration of the human form, it’s a celebration of Christ’s creation. Is Holy Mass supposed to be a celebration of us? NO! But, a lot of people mistakenly think and believe so. The same folks who will have Earth Day during Mass tend to favor liturgical dance as well. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

It continually amuses me (It’s true, the idiot is easily humored! LOL!) that Catholics who can’t bother to faithfully interpret anything as it’s written, suddenly become Scriptural literalists when they think it suits their purposes. In this case, they will cite 2 Samuel 6:14-17. They'll say: "Since David danced before the Lord we should be able to also." Go back and read that passage again. David is dancing before the ARK. Furthermore, he is not dancing in the Temple (in this case it would be the Tent) after the Ark is placed inside. He dances OUTSIDE then he quits when the Ark is placed.

Yes, it’s true that at some papal Masses there is dancing (I’m trying to remember some of them and I can’t recall if they were during the actual liturgy or not. Anyone know?). Even during some Masses that are approved by the local Ordinary (i.e. African Masses) there is dancing while bringing the gifts forward. I still grit my teeth but if the necessary approvals are there, then I must be silent. But, in many cases, there are no necessary approvals, people just decide on their own they are going to do it. Another fine example of the individual Magisterium at work.

I believe that most of the people who want to move and jump around at the infamous Religious "Education" Conference (a.k.a. The 3 Days of Darkness), or during Mass at your local parish, are not conscious of dancing before the Lord anyway. They are dancing before the studio audience (the congregation). They certainly are not facing the Lord. Ad orientem dance (*shudder* Great, just what I need to see at Mass next, Ms. Leigh's buh-DONK-a-DONK butt waiving in my face!)!

A couple people told me that dancers were used in their Easter Vigil Mass. Not only that, but the dancers actually DID the blessing of the people with the Holy Water after the renewal of the Baptismal Promises. I don’t know where Father was-maybe he was locked up in the back with the rest of the hostages? When I was a kid, it was customary for the faithful to kneel and cross themselves as Father passed by with the Holy Water. I’m sure as H-E-Double Toothpicks not kneeling when Jo-Jo Dancer comes by smiling and laughing (because you know they are!) as they enjoy dousing me about 4-5 times (If you really want to be funny bring the whole jug out and dump it over my head like the players do to coaches after a winning football game! Isn’t that almost like the Woman with the Alabaster Jar?! Like this is almost an actual paragraph? Or, almost a Cranky Cathy post?) Only Father should be sprinkling the faithful. Only priests are supposed to be doing Baptisms-unless it’s an emergency-and I don’t consider more of a crowd than usual to be indicative of an emergency. Giving LAYPEOPLE another unnecessary role is not a valid excuse for this nonsense. Just because the GIRM does not explicitly say “Dancers should NOT be sprinkling the people with Holy Water” or "Absolutely no one should be doing The Hustle during Mass" does not mean it is acceptable.

But, really, to some folks the GIRM could say “Close your eyes and think of England ” and they either wouldn’t read it anyway or they’d leave their eyes open and think of Australia. Give some an inch and they take a mile. Some take the inch and the mile and another 500 yards just to see if they can. Maybe we need to start building more golf courses with sandtraps.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent...thank you for addressing this in your post. LOL on the buh-donk-a-donk butt line! :)
See you and Swissy later on...I have a craving now for some German chocolate cake, maybe a toast to His Holiness with some reisling too!

April 16, 2008 7:10 AM  
Blogger uncle jim said...

i love your dance style much better - like the ones that terry puts up on his blog.

save some reisling for me - my second favorite alcoholic beverage

April 16, 2008 9:16 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Notitiae (Instructions for Sacraments and Divine Worship) Vol. 11, 1975 pp. 202-205 state,

“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…

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."

Thus, liturgical dance is never permitted in the liturgy (in the West), or in assembly areas which are strictly liturgical. Additionally, no one on personal authority may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy (Canon 846). For information on how to address an abuse I recommend the following:

Cardinal Arinze has also made it quite clear that liturgical dance is not permitted. Check out his podcasts.

April 16, 2008 10:17 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

.....the following that is recommended in above comment is Jimmy Akins "Mass Confusion." I have this book and it is excellent.

April 16, 2008 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your blog alot, but rarely comment...this probably was a cranky Cathy post....BUT I agree wholeheartedly!!!
Most protestant groups don't even dance during their services and they don't even believe in the real presence.


April 16, 2008 10:47 AM  
Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

Vat II in the document on the Liturgy does address the POSSIBILITY of dance, but within a cultural framework (i.e. is it part of the culture of the celebrating community e.g. Africa (which I would say it is not in the US)) AND is liturically appropriate (i.e. entrance, recessional, and offitory processions, and NOT as part of the Gospel Proclamation, Consecration, or Blessing with Holy Water). I find it at best distracting, and at worst an occassion of sin. I find it as irritating as having the choir doing a sung Gospel (in parts) for the Holy Week Liturgies (I don't mind Father or a Deacon chanting it, as long as they have the voice to do it well!)

April 16, 2008 12:22 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

......and furthermore - speaking as an ex-professional dancer, what these yahoos are doing is just plain awful! It is a very bad imitation of what is called “theater arts” in the dance world.

It is one thing that would prompt me to get up and leave the church (and hopefully bump into them on the way out.) I do have my limits.

April 16, 2008 3:20 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Thanks, Lisa, see ya later!

Uncle Jim: Thanks but I think I'd cause too much "near occasion of sin" "custody of the eyes" issues for Archangel's Advocate!

samantha: Yes, it probably was a Cranky Cathy! :-)

Adrienne: Thanks for the info! I'm shocked no one has recruited you to play the drums at Mass!

April 16, 2008 3:27 PM  
Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

Adrienne, on exitting be sure to bump into the dancers with a steam roller, puleease.....

April 16, 2008 3:49 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I heard a rumor that our 10:30 "music director" was looking for a percussionist. Not sure if he means full drum set (my 10 piece set would fill the entire back of the church) or just percussion "toys." Can't help him with timpani - can't re-tune fast enough. However, gongs, marching cymbals, triangles, shakers, chimes, rattles, and, yes, COWBELL I can do. My cowbell is awesome. I shopped for months to find the perfect cowbell.

AA - How about I just strangle them with their chiffon scarves??

April 16, 2008 7:37 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Cranky Cathy,

There is not much to say about the history of liturgical dance in the Catholic Church, except that the 4th century St. Cesarius of Arles disapproved of it thoroughly. (I wonder if there is a gratefulness novena for him?)

After that, it appears there has been very little, or no history of liturgical dance in the Catholic Church!!! As I understand, it is not currently allowed in Catholic liturgucal practise. (see note below)

Note: PS from the Q & A Manager: If Mr. Hyland will forgive my inclusion of a note on his answer here, I do have some experience on the issue of Liturgical Dancing and thought perhaps it would be beneficial to share it here.

Liturgical Dancing is absolutely forbidden in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church (in the Western Church). The reason for this is that dancing in the Western culture is a common and pedestrian activity. It is a folk activity. In the West dancing does not have, on our culture, the element of the sacred. There is nothing wrong with dance, or folk music, and the like, but in the Mass only those things which have a connotation as associated with the sacred are allowed. The connotation of dance is the classical or artistic dance, or Saturday night sock hop, or nightclub dancing, or recreational dancing, or mixer dances where people can meet the opposite sex. We, in the West, to not have in our culture any connotation of the sacred in our dancing. This, in the West, it cannot be included in the Mass except by special indult in the case perhaps of an ethnic parish with a cultural background of true sacred dancing.

There are other cultures where dance has been apart of sacred expression for thousands of years. It is part of the culture. It is part of the people, not just an entertainment. In those cultures the Church allows Liturgical Dancing because in those cultures the dancing that is done during the Mass is culturally sacred.

The issue is that only that which has a sacred purpose, only that which is suitable for sacred expression, only that which facilitates the sacred time and place of the Mass can be included in the Mass. Thus any dance, instrument, music, or song that is not suitable for sacred expression cannot be used. Folk music and dancing and the like is fine for a non-liturgical meeting outside of the Church such as a youth group at camp or in fellowship hall, but the folk nature of those activities, by definition, is not sacred.

Bro. Ignatius

This is from the Church History Forum (which I'm going to have to start paying attention to).


April 16, 2008 8:38 PM  
Blogger ArchAngel's Advocate said...

Cathy, you being the "occasion of sin" sounds nice. The occasion I was thinking of involves a Colt 44 side arm.
Adrienne, the steam roller is preferable to me as it would leave a distinctive stain as a warning to future generations (a la "Canterville Ghost").

April 16, 2008 8:50 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adrienne: YES, strangle them with their chiffon scarves. Oh, wait, that does not sound terribly Christian does it? How about a beat they can't dance to?

AA: I thought the Roadrunner was always run over with the steamroller and left the splat on the road? LOL!

Ray: Great info! Thanks!

April 16, 2008 9:12 PM  
Blogger Bobby said...

The issue is now more prevalent in Protestant churches of the Emergent variety.

Some churches have tossed out choirs in favour of teen girls "dancing" (crude dancing, mind you) to secular pop tunes, some of which are hip-hop, and instead of the sacred song being sung by choirs with respect, you have teens who know nothing except how to jiggle to what they hear off the radio.

Good reference to what they call "dance" in many churches of all types as a "live commercial for (a) Tai-Chi class unfolding before my eyes!!!!"

April 16, 2008 10:05 PM  
Blogger Geometricus said...

Buh-DONK-a-DONK butt!!! Hahahahahahahaahahahahahahahaha!!!!
Hilarious. I feel like you are my sister. That's good ndn humor, sis.

April 18, 2008 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever seen the Mexican/Aztec dances in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe? Terrific! They start dancing before dawn through the streets & practice the dances (and devotion to Mary!) for months. The procession ends at the doors of the church for Mass. I saw it in a town of the Texas coast that was mostly Evangelical Prot. Far from softening my attitude toward most "liturgical dancing", seeing a truly pious and culturally significant use of dance made chiffon-Mass-whooshing all the more obnoxious.

April 18, 2008 9:19 PM  
Blogger Jeff Miller said...

Yes there has been liturgical dances during the liturgy as a result of the old Papal Master of Ceremonies Marini. In 1998, the congregation wrote to the bishop of Honolulu to ban the use of hula dancing in any liturgical context, a custom that had become common among Catholics in Hawaii. Yet when John Paul visited Brussels in 1995 for the beatification of Father Damien DeVeuster, the famous saint of the Hawaiian lepers, a hula dance was performed smack in the middle of the ceremony. Thanks to Bishop Marini.

I liked your point about King David, a point I have made before that he was not dancing in the Temple and even though he still scandalized people. Hey if you want to dance before the Blessed Sacrament sign up at 3 in the morning for Eucharistic adoraton and go for it.

Though I have been blessed in not ever actually witnessing what I call Leotardation.

April 18, 2008 10:22 PM  
Blogger DimBulb said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 19, 2008 12:25 AM  
Blogger DimBulb said...

Cardinal Ratizinger in his excellent 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."

From the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship:
"[In western culture] 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."

The USCCB's committee on the liturgy issued the following statement via a newsletter in April/May of 1982:
"FROM THESE DIRECTIVES, from the NATIONAL CONFERENCE of CATHOLIC BISHOPS, all dancing, (ballet, children's gesture as dancing, the clown liturgy) are not permitted to be 'introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind whatever.'"

sometime back, in the combox of the blog The Cafeteria is Closed, I was involved in a lengthy debate with someone using the name "white men can't dance" who claimed that the rejection of liturgical dance was European bigotry. I pointed out that ancient European (pagan) cultures had a tradition of dance in worship and that this was not "inculturated" by the Church. It is not about cultural superiority, rather, it's about decorum.

April 19, 2008 12:31 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

dim bulb: Thanks! No wonder "Spirit of the Liturgy" is on my never-any-smaller "to read" list.

Jester: 'Leotardation'-LOL!

April 19, 2008 1:52 PM  
Blogger Anita Moore said...

There's a church in my area that has "liturgical 'dance'" -- they call it "liturgical movement." That phrase makes me think (appropriately enough) of another particular kind of movement.

Here are my $0.02 on this subject from last year.

April 19, 2008 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Psalm 149 verse 3 urges people to praise God in the dance and with the tambourine. That is the word of God and means at the least that Catholics including Benedict who wrote what he wrote when not a Pope....that they not condemn either dance per se nor percussion. You need not attend such events...but since God Himself urged these forms in psalm 149, you would be way way way better off not deprecating this area wherein some ethnic groups may be very close to the Jews of the times of the psalms in doing these things.

April 19, 2008 6:20 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Excellent Post. "This is nothing but paganism inserted into the liturgy" Spot on.

As Catholics, we should be guaranteed to receive the Holy Mass as it is prescribed in the Liturgical Books, and GIRM, and not as concocted by lapel pin nuns and radical liturgists. Throw in the dubious music director wit that lot. At any rate, I would counsel a quick getaway and an alternative Mass schedule when faced with novelties such as Liturgical Dance.

I am passing your post on to my friends, it will be well received

April 19, 2008 7:47 PM  
Blogger Anita Moore said...

Liberals nearly always cloak themselves in anonymity; this case is no different.

Psalm 149 verse 3 urges people to praise God in the dance and with the tambourine.

Not in the sanctuary.

That is the word of God and means at the least that Catholics including Benedict who wrote what he wrote when not a Pope....that they not condemn either dance per se nor percussion.

You mean you know better than Pope Benedict, who hasn't changed his mind about what he wrote before he was Pope, but after the intense study of theology and many years as a priest, bishop and cardinal? Have you even read what he wrote? He didn't "condemn dance per se nor percussion"; he said these are not appropriate in the liturgy, because of their secular associations.

You need not attend such events...

But I do need to attend Mass on Sunday; and since no reasonable person will pay to see these people to perform, they need a captive audience, and often one that has not had prior notice.

but since God Himself urged these forms in psalm 149, you would be way way way better off not deprecating this area wherein some ethnic groups may be very close to the Jews of the times of the psalms in doing these things.

You would be "way way way" better off not deprecating the Sacrifice of the Mass. This proves you really haven't read the writings of Cardinal Ratzinger (as was). He acknowledged that there are some cultural contexts in which dance and drums may be appropriate, because they have sacred overtones in those cultures. However, this is not the case in Western culture, and ethnic cultures cannot provide an excuse for introducing profane elements into the liturgy.

Do you have a clue what the Mass is? It is the re-presentation, in a non-bloody manner, of the Sacrifice of Calvary -- the clean oblation foretold by the prophet Malachi. At Mass, we are literally at the foot of the Cross, along with the Mother of God, St. John, and the Magdalene. Would you dare to dance or beat drums with the sorrowing Mother of God and the broken, bloody Christ hanging from the Cross visibly in front of you?

If there were dancing girls on Calvary, I guarantee you they were rooting for the other side.

April 19, 2008 9:30 PM  
Blogger radio45 said...

The more important part of the 2 Samuel passage is what follows in
2 Samuel 19-23. It was not David's dancing that was in question but David's wife Michal's criticism. Do not wrench a verse out of context. Read before and after that verse. It is not that David danced and was pleasing before God, but that Michal demeaned his behavior and was not found in favor with the Lord. Don't like dancing at Mass? Go to another Mass!

April 20, 2008 6:32 AM  
Blogger radio45 said...

By the way, do you think Michal died childless because she was out of favor with God, or because she was a mean spirited busy body who found it more important to criticize other's actions than to worry about her own?

April 20, 2008 6:52 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

anonymous: As Anita most excellently stated and I alluded too, it's not a performance that you have a CHOICE of going to. We are obligated to attend Mass on Holy Days of Obligation. Many of us attend more than just on those days. You confirmed what I suspected, that fans and participants in this form of dance think it is a show.

radio45: Actually, Michal was angry because David was not acting with the dignity of his office. He responded he was deliberately lowering and humiliating himself before the Lord.

Are dancers during liturgy than deliberately and willfully humiliating/humbling themselves before the Lord with their behavior? I would say that, yes, it is humiliating and ridiculous but I doubt that the people doing the movement think that it is so. They are proud of what they are doing. David had some issues with pride but not in the scene before the Ark.

I still maintain liturgical dancers view it as a performance, which the responses of you and anonymous have reinforced.

Not everyone has a choice of which Mass to attend. To make such a choice is assuming everyone has mobility and multiple options for worship nearby. Personally, I think it's ludicrous to tell Catholics they need to shop around. I think we should be able to go to any Mass anywhere in the world and not have any unpleasant heretical surprises: like women reading the Gospel and giving the homily, or laypeople doing the Consecration, or pagan dancing in the Sanctuary.

April 20, 2008 9:39 AM  
Blogger Anita Moore said...

By the way, do you think Michal died childless because she was out of favor with God, or because she was a mean spirited busy body who found it more important to criticize other's actions than to worry about her own?

Actually, the real mean-spirited busybodies are the ones who, thinking they know better than the Church, take it upon themselves to "improve" upon the liturgy by adding elements to suit their own tastes; they profane the sacred mysteries and violate the right of the faithful to have the liturgy properly celebrated.

April 20, 2008 12:47 PM  
Blogger Larry Denninger said...

"COWBELL I can do. My cowbell is awesome. I shopped for months to find the perfect cowbell."

Adrienne: April 16, 2008 7:37 PM

Can you play "Don't Fear The Reaper' by Blue Oyster Cult?

"I gotta have more cowbell!"


April 22, 2008 9:58 AM  

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