Dancing at Mass

I was at a Christmas Eve mass at a parish other than my own due to my schedule. I knew things were a little funny when people held hands across the isles and wandered all over the church at the sign of peace.

The most disturbing part, though, was that there was some sort of ballerina dance after communion but before dismissal as well as people dressed up as Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus. They had a guest priest; I don’t know if he was even aware of what was to happen after communion or if he found out just before the service. I did my best not to ruin Christmas by being reserved until an appropriate time.

What’s the best way to bring this up to the diocese while remaining charitable? I don’t want to be a stick in the mud but the liturgical abuse was horrible. I’ve been to Tridentine Mass, Mass of Paul VI, Eastern Rite Catholic Mass, etc. I’ve never seen anything like this other than some videos. I wanted to break out my cell phone to record it but I didn’t think that I would be much better by doing this.

It was kind of like this video but with the characters: youtube.com/watch?v=7aLLsJa9xYY

Since it wasn’t the Mass that you ordinarily attend and (since you were asking), my advice is to say nothing at all and forget about it. The Mass (plus private devotions) you are used to assisting at will probably take your mind off this.

i second this advice. It is not your parish or regular Mass. to speak out, you would need to go to the priest of that parish, since it is not your own, I don’t think you will get anywhere.

It’s a difficult situation as it isn’t your parish. These things are typically difficult to get dislodged even by determined parishioners. Probably the best you can do, if you feel the need to do something, is to send a letter to the bishop, giving him all the details – name of the parish, time and place, the exact details, etc. If he’s concerned, he’ll follow up on it. If not, be glad it isn’t your parish.

I wouldn’t expect this to do much good. Best case scenario, native parishioners complained and your letter simply provides corroboration.

Might I offer a suggestion? :twocents: How about just ignoring it? Just don’t go to that parish again. Rumor has it my parish’s 4 p.m. service had liturgical dance and a pageant. :ouch: I won’t know because I am not planning to find out. I go to the Midnight Mass on Christmas. There are no pageants or liturgical dance at that time. I figure as long as it is not going on Sunday after Sunday it shouldn’t be that much of a problem.

If the parish I went to had strange things going on all the time then I might complain about it. I certainly wouldn’t attend that parish. You figure that the diocese would catch on if one parish had 3,000 attending and the one next door about 30.:shrug:

Okay, so I am a newbie and I don’t always know what is right and what is illicit but I can catch on to the general atmosphere.

I don’t you will get anywhere even with the bishop. If it is not your parish and you didn’t go to them first, the Bishop’s office probably won’t be doing anything either. complaints about what happen at this or that Mass or parish need to be dealt with at the parish first and with those involved before one could approach a Bishop.

Yeah, it’s a long shot. I wouldn’t expect the letter on its own to have an effect. As I said, the best he could hope for is that it contributes to any existing documentation on abuse at that particular parish. If no one else has reported it, it’ll probably just be written off.

Horrible!!!:eek: :hypno:

Now you know what parish to avoid.

Don’t waste your time or the bishop’s with a letter. If you got an answer, it would say, “have you discussed this with the pastor?” Why would you go to the bishop first with a letter, bypassing the pastor responsible for the parish?

If it was truly horrible, and you know that the priest was not the pastor, you might write a charitable letter to the pastor. “This is what I observed.” Don’t include observations unless they are truly abuse, or your credibility will be zero. Wandering about the church during the sign of peace is not to my taste, but I don’t think that it qualifies as an abuse.

The mass in this video is not at a diocesan run parish. It’s a regular parish. Regular clergy operate under the guidance of their Proper Laws. I checked it out in the Kennedy Directory.

For example, Franciscans have an 800 year old tradition of putting on the Christmas pageant and the passion play at mass. These were created by St. Francis himself. These have never been abrogated by Church law.

The other day, someone posted how scandalized they were to see the nativity acted out at mass. When I checked the Kennedy Directory, the parish is run by Friars Minor. Acting out the Nativity at a mass celebrated by the Friars Minor is perfectly legal. The person did not know this, because it was his first Christmas mass at a Franciscan parish.

A first question would be, is the parish that you attended a diocesan parish or a regular parish. Regular clergy sometimes has customs and flexibility where diocesan clergy does not have. It’s important to understand these things before we go out and proclaim anathemas where there should be none.


Br. JR, FFV :slight_smile:

I have to agree with you there seems to be lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and where they are… Too much liberalism (not sure if i have spelled it correctly) The Church is the Temple of prayer not a parade show. Send in an unsigned letter to the parish priest and if you get no response via maybe the parish newletter or some other means then go to the Bishop You can question this in comparrison with an ordinary Mass i would refrain from mentioning the Tridentine Mass… I do believe these are not isolated instances.
And you are not being a sick in the mud you are voicing the concerns of a lot of poeple and i would suggest you get it off your chest… even talk to a priest in confession about this as it has disturbed you peace of mind…
hope this helps…

An unsigned letter to the priest will go in file 13! If you can’t put your name to a letter or email then no one is going to pay attention to it and it will get ditched. Likewise, the same is true if you think that going to the bishop, you will just be turned around and asked if you spoke with the priest and went to the parish. Like one of the other posters said, this may have not been a diocesian parish and is a parish run by a religious order such as Fransicans. While this was not to your liking etc. judging a parish by a one time visit on what goes on and then thinking you are going to complain and have someone listen is fruitless. I’ve been in the process of going to a Bishop with a complaint and trust me, we had all our ducks in a role and this first thing the office of the Bishop will ask you is if you spoke with the priest.

Years ago when a priest tried to get the children in my parish to dance up by the altar, I wrote a letter to the bishop. I don’t know if the letter had anything at all to do with it, but shortly there after that priest was reassigned and we got a new and much more traditional priest.
I also believe that if you want to complain, then you have to write when it’s good and let the bishop know that as well. :slight_smile: I do write the bishop at least once every year and let him know what a great job our current priest is doing! :slight_smile:

I agree that there is no point in writing to the bishop about a parish that is not your own and a guest priest who is not normally assigned to that parish. Especially if you don’t first speak to the pastor of the parish and ask him about the Mass in question.

I also agree that we should support our priests, both with our prayers and with encouragement. Tell your priest when you found the homily helpful, when the music was inspiring, when the Mass as a whole was beautiful and reverant. Regularly thank him for his efforts and for persuing his vocation. Write to your bishop to highlight that good things happening at your parish.

We gain more from compliments than we do from complaints.

Some of you are too eager to contact the bishop, which tells me that you did not check out the Kennedy Directory to see who has jurisdiction over the parish. It may be a religious community.

The Directory would point you to the parish website where it tells you the vision of the parish. That vision has to be approved by the bishop. If it’s a religious community that runs the parish, the major superior and the bishop agree on the vision, before the parish is handed over to the religious. Once it’s been handed over, the bishop cannot retract it. No bishop can do that. That’s called suppression. If it’s a diocesan run parish and the pastor and bishop are in agreement, there is nothing to do. These things have to be checked out.

Second, as I said before, acting out the Nativity at mass is perfectly legal in both the EF and OF. This custom was introduced by St. Francis of Assisi at Greccio around 1219 and has never been abrogated. It’s one of those old customs that the law does not touch, because of the benefit that it has to the liturgy and to the faithful who attend the mass. Of course, it must be well done. If it’s not well done, there is little benefit to it. For years there were real animals involved in the pageant, which always took place in some part of the church where there was enough room, often the lowest part of the sanctuary.

It is very important that one get used to checking into sources like the Kennedy Directory, diocesan directory, web pages for parishes or religious communities. Web pages are usually more current, because directories are not updated daily. It’s too expensive. You can update a website for free. The parish website will tell you who runs the parish and what is it’s vision and mission. If it’s publicly stated on the website, then it has the bishop’s approval. You can’t state anything on a website that is does not meet the local bishop’s approval, unless it’s a private site. That’s a whole other story.


Br. JR, FFV :christmastree1:

Too much liberalism? The dancing was the only thing contrary to law for the Novus Ordo, and even then, it was once tolerated before being explicitly banned for most regions and there are still some cultures allowed to have dance during liturgy… so, it wasn’t a sacrilege.

And is there a thing as too much conservatism? Should I be writing to someone if I come across a Mass that’s done in a dry, robotic fashion devoid of all human artistry and life? Because, I’ve seen those.

I don’t think anyone’s objecting to the nativity play, brother JR, as much as the ballet dancing, which the CDF has in the past singled out as a specific example of abuse in Western nations of the Roman rite.

My big issue is not just the liturgical abuses that took place. Not receiving Christ in the proper manner can poison the parishioners. Communion time should be a deep moment where Christ fuses himself to you so that you may be one day perfect like Christ. Future generations will expect the ballerina dance as the norm when Christ himself is coming into the world to teach, guide, and save us through his death. resurrection, and truth. Dancing in the mass doesn’t involve any of this. It’s a self-centered act which only glorifies the talent of the dancer and amplifies the ego of those dressed like Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.

What do you mean by human artistry and life? We’re called to pray the Mass, but at the same time, we should be considering the characteristic sobriety of the roman rite. The Mass really isn’t a time for a priest to be showing “human artistry,” but rather, he should be praying the prayers of the Mass with reverence without improving upon them.

Words when spoken can be pronounced in a monotone meter, much like a SciFi robot. I doubt anyone wants that. Many document warn against merely rote recitation of texts.

The words of the ritual take on the better and full significance when read and prayed and sung with appropriate inflection, tone, meter, pausing, and emphasis. Such public speaking and chanting and singing is an art form. It’s difficult to quantify though general rules can be ascertained. And we all know when someone does it quite well. We know when someone goes overboard and we know when someone goes dead flat. It’s an art form, and when done well, it breathes life into the liturgy.

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