Liturgical Dancing

Hey guys, hope you’re having a good day.

I am presently taking a research course in Vatican II at a University. The problem that I am facing right now is the issue of Liturgical dancing. There are some who believe the Council wanted it because it allows the congregation to participate by dancing. :rolleyes: I replied that by dancing, you are distracting people from the main focus, Jesus Christ. They also argue that rock and roll bands and drums and all that are okay because those people are expressing their worship styles, all because of Vat. II. :rolleyes: Again, I told them that by doing so, you’re distracting me from focusing on Jesus. I also told them that the Council did not take Latin out of the Mass and that people are not doing what the Roman Missal tells them to do. For example, some parishes stand during the Eucharistic prayer. I’m like, “Uh, the Roman Missal says kneel.” My professor then started talking about how there are essentials of the Mass that can’t be changed, and there are changeable parts. So I pointed out in article 22, section 3 of Sacrosanctum Concilium that nobody can change the Mass! He said that only applies to the essential parts of the Mass. The final word of the debate was when I asked, “Where’s the unity!? Don’t you think that by all this disunity between parishes, that it contradicts what the Council wanted, that is, unity?” The ones I was talking to had nothing to say to that, but I don’t think the debate is over. I’d like, if possible, if you guys can show me if there’s anything that says Liturgical dancing is not appropriate? Rock and Roll bands during Mass? Thanks for your help.

Where in the Council does it say there should be dancing? It talks of proper liturgical actions and bodily gestures–but this means things like the sign of the cross, standing, sitting, kneeling, folding one’s hands, crossing one’s head, lips, and heart, etc.

Pope Benedict wrote about how it’s inappropriate (see HERE under Spirit of the Liturgy.) Here is a good article citing other sources against it:

That being said, however, the ancient Ge’ez or Ethiopian rite does have some dancing, but not the kinds you see as an abuse of the Roman rite.

Well, the short answer is that your opponents in the debate couldn’t find their butts with two hands and a flashlight. They’re spewing the “party line” of progressive liturgical disobedience but, as you’ve already pointed out, the very documents of Vatican II expressly contradict that position. The only way to teach personalities who invent nuances (like “you just can’t change the essential parts” - as if any authority has ever said or even meant that) is long, hard, persistent proposal of the truth. It’s a tough row to hoe, but it can be done.

If you want more than the bare text of Sacrosanctum Concilium, I would suggest pulling out subsequent liturgical documents like statements from the CDW (most relevantly, Redemptionis Sacramentum) or even the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum which talks about the arbitrary distortions of the liturgy which have caused so much damage since the council.

Or if you want to take even further show how Quo primum says that this MASS IS FOR ALL TIME. This is one of the best encyclicals. Read and show it to him, what he said applies to all time.

As I saw the title of this thread I had in mind to cite Benedikt XVI, too, but that is already done :wink:

So if there should be indeed any document that speaks in favour of liturgical dancing (IS there one or is that just a claim that was made in your seminary?), I would suggest that this “liturgical dancing” speaks of cultures in that dancing has got a more important role than in ours (for example, african culture), and is therefore no reason to perform any kind of liturgical dances in USA/Europe - especially not if they take the character of a performance!

Concering drums and rock’n roll, again Benedikt: He speaks in the spirit of the liturgy about music that is self-centered, as rock music, and music that is composed in the intention of leading the spirit to God during service, instead of distracting it. Ithink that even the most fervent admireres of rock music tends :wink: to agree that this kind of music draws a lot of attention to itself and therefore, in a mass or other liturgical celebration, away from the main purpose: God.

There were musical instruments at the time of the Apostles which very much resembled the guitar I play at mass today. There are even references in the Bible to their use in liturgy.

Pianos and pipe organs did not exist.

I find pipe organs far more distracting than a well-played acoustic guitar. They are louder. Music written for the pipe organ is generally far more complex and distracting. They are far costlier for the church militant to acquire and maintain. They typically occupy an enormous chunk of the church building, and are often very fancy and ornate, leading to a pride in owning the biggest, baddest pipe organ in town.

I think a humble acoustic guitar strumming a simple tune as part of the church’s liturgy is a far better representation of the church than that big, awesome piece of machinery the Apostles could not have even fathomed.

That may be your opinion, but you are required by the Second Vatican Council to hold the pipe organ in high esteem.

  1. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.

As other posters have stated. The only official documents that I recall seeing regarding dancing were speaking specifically of cultures in which dancing is a major cultural factor. These would dances like one would experience in tribal areas where that dancing is highly symbolic and helps to tie day to day activities into the larger context of the people.

So like in the west where elaborate choral and instrumental pieces are typically our method of formal and reverant celebration. In some places tribal dance may fill the same roll. So for these places the Church allows that the dancing can be appropriate.

However, I believe that the Church has also called the “liturgical dancing” of the west an abuse. In fact I believe BXVI himself has done so. In the west dancing is typically either an artistic endeavor or an entertainment. While it certainly has a celebratory quality it isn’t typically viewed as spiritual, and at its most formal it is seen as a technical mastery and not as something that ties important religious and natural events into the daily fabric of our lives. So a Westerner’s knee jerk reaction to dancing is to either appreciate its artistic merit or to see it as fun or possibly arrousing sensual experience. Which would be by default distracting.

I think the whole liturgical dancing thing got started as part of the liturgical reform movements that were seeking a “salvation through art” experience that would lead one to the “Cosmic Christ”. One of the biggest proponents of this was Mathew Fox (a former Dominican) who taught a broad, ecumunical and artistic cosmic liturgy which involved dancing, foolery (as in the profession), shamanistic, pagan and feminist aspects. This would be another reason for liturgical dancing to be seen as an abuse in the West. Our dances sometimes may imply theological viewpoints that may possibly be unorthodox.

I wish I was as skilled as many here at remembering exactly where I’ve read things. Most of my lore just blends together as single entity in my head. :frowning:

There was a similar question in Catholic Answers magazine.
Ladies dressed in native costumes carrying the gifts to the altar is okay and has been done at papal Masses.
Clapping hands and dancing in the pews as a form of cultural expression during worship is also permissable.
What is not permissable is choreographing liturgical dance to be performed in front of the altar, such as neo-pagan dances.
Neither do we want ballerinas in tights twirling and doing flips up the aisles.
Basically, liturgical dance that involves cultural expression during worship is acceptable while that which is contrived or choreographed is not.

I am searching for this document I came across that describes liturgical dancing as the “most desacralized and desacralizing element” ever to be introduced into the Holy Mass.

Ah found it here is the link!


Cardinal Arinze on Liturgical Dancing
Cardinal Responds to Questions on Liturgy

Wide-ranging questions on the Liturgy were answered by Cardinal Francis Arinze at a conference in July sponsored by the Apostolate for Family Consecration.

Online Edition - Vol. IX, No. 7: October 2003

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.

Don’t misunderstand me, because when I said this at one place somebody said to me: “you are an African bishop. You Africans are always dancing. Why do you say we don’t dance?”

A moment – we Africans are not always dancing! [laughter]

Moreover, there is a difference between those who come in procession at Offertory; they bring their gifts, with joy. There is a movement of the body right and left. They bring their gifts to God. That is good, really. And some of the choir, they sing. They have a little bit of movement. Nobody is going to condemn that. And when you are going out again, a little movement, it’s all right.

But when you introduce wholesale, say, a ballerina, then I want to ask you what is it all about. What exactly are you arranging? When the people finish dancing in the Mass and then when the dance group finishes and people clap – don’t you see what it means? It means we have enjoyed it. We come for enjoyment. Repeat. So, there is something wrong. Whenever the people clap – there is something wrong – immediately. When they clap – a dance is done and they clap.

It is possible that there could be a dance that is so exquisite that it raises people’s minds to God, and they are praying and adoring God and when the dance is finished they are still wrapped up in prayer. But is that the type of dance you have seen? You see. It is not easy.

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]

Why make the people of God suffer so much? Haven’t we enough problems already? Only Sunday, one hour, they come to adore God. And you bring a dance! Are you so poor you have nothing else to bring us? Shame on you! That’s how I feel about it.

Somebody can say, “but the pope visited this county and the people danced”. A moment: Did the pope arrange it? Poor Holy Father – he comes, the people arranged. He does not know what they arranged. And somebody introduces something funny – is the pope responsible for that? Does that mean it is now approved? Did they put in on the table of the Congregation for Divine Worship? We would throw it out! If people want to dance, they know where to go.

There were musical instruments at the time of the Apostles which very much resembled the guitar I play at mass today. There are even references in the Bible to their use in liturgy.

Mainusch, could you tell me where in the bible to find references to musical instruments being used in worship. I’m not sure that they called it liturgy.

Do you mean liturgical dancing like this???

wow what was that? That can’t be for real? How sad :mad:

Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei spoke against this notion of a false “antiquarianism”. That the Apostles “could not have even fathomed” a pipe organ is quite irrelevant to the issue. I would also bet that they probably couldn’t fathom the folksy music at some Masses today as being in any way liturgical.

The Church is a glorious one, so with regards to that it is not a sin to have the biggest and most baddes and beatiful instrument. There is absolutely no instrument that could compare to the beauty of the mass. In other words no choir on earth or most expensive instrument is close to the glory of the mass. Angels sing during mass. Blessing and praising the Lord. But even in the TLM not on all feast days do they allow the organ because it is a loud instrument. It is saved for very special occasions, atleast Pre-V II i know that for sure.

Now you know why there is a SSPX.

Watched the video. Felt like crying and also felt like

The pipe organ is a WIND instrument -

Gregorian chant - from the 600’s - the original music of the church, played with wind instruments by the monks -
the instrument?

the human voice.
there is no “regular, repetative beat” in Gregorian chant, because it is more like breathing - it speaks to the soul, whereas a “beat” speaks to the body.

[sign1]Words Fail Me.:banghead:[/sign1]

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