Passion play mime at Mass

Every year our 7th & 8th graders do a mime of the passion play during school Mass, and then again on Sunday Mass (and Saturday, and at our 2 mission churches). A teacher reads the passion while the children do the actions. It is done at the altar and around it. It is very nicely done and very reverent.

Is this a good practice? My MIL never liked it. My own mother was here once and loved it, as do most of our parishioners.

Unfortunately, this is not licit, no matter how reverently it is done. Please note what Paschale Solemnitatis notes:

  1. The passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is, by three persons who take the part of Christ, the narrator, and the people. The passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers. In the latter case, the part of the Christ should be reserved to the priest.

…34. After the passion has been proclaimed, a homily is to be given.

The Mass is not the place for theater. Even though there may be some latitude for Masses with Children, what you have seen is not licit.

Furthermore, during Good Friday, Paschale Solemnitatis notes that:

  1. The readings are to be read in their entirety. The responsorial psalm and the chant before the gospel are to be sung in the usual manner. The narrative of the Lord’s passion according to John is sung or read in the way prescribed for the previous Sunday (cf. n. 33). After the reading of the passion, a homily should be given, at the end of which the faithful may be invited to spend a short time in meditation. [69]

…72. Devotions, such as the Way of the Cross, processions of the passion, and commemorations of the sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary are not, for pastoral reasons, to be neglected. The texts and songs used, however, should be adapted to the spirit of the liturgy of this day. Such devotions should be assigned to a time of day that makes it quite clear that the liturgical celebration, by its very nature, far surpasses them in importance. [74]

Unfortunately, Holy Week is not the time for experimentations in creativity. It is the time to observe the ancient rites and rubrics of the Church, as this is our holiest time of the liturgical year.

When I was in High School, the Youth Group that I was a part of did a mimed production of the Passion (I played Peter).

But it was done outside of Mass.

There is no place in the Mass for anything other than what is in the Rubrics.

“Plays” and “mime” acts never belong in the Mass. Do them afterwards (and not in the sanctuary).

Our church has the children doing mimes for each of the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday as a separate service in the morning.

hmm I’m not a huge fan of mime…

btw, somewhere around the Renaissance, (not sure exactly what time period) they had something called “liturgical dramas”… before a Mass, they had people act out the reading or the event of the day if it was a Feast. I guess that’s sort of similar.

I personally think that it shouldn’t be done during Mass… afterwards is alright though… but only if it’s done reverently.

“Passion Plays” or “Living Stations” or whatever else we might call them are very important in many Catholic cultures. Paschale Solemnitatis encourages these on Good Friday (as we read in Benedictgal’s post) and by extension at other times during Lent. Note that the Church is not merely saying that these things are permitted, but that they should “not be neglected.”

However, such things are never appropriate during the Mass, or during the Good Friday Liturgy. The Gospel is to be “proclaimed” not “acted out” (except in the sense of the Passion gospel being proclaimed as it is prescribed does have a certain dramatic element to it.)

The value of these plays in no way diminishes the value of the sacred actions of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is not something to be trifled with.

A church of our Rochester, NY diocese had an “innovative” pantomine Passion play with the youth group on the alter. Wordless. No reading of the precious Word from the gospel of Mark. This can’t be right. But using the children to put on the play does challenge anyone from questioning it, you know. Because by saying anything you are “against” the children. Sigh. Here is the article in my paper:

Its not my parish but it is my diocese and it is my Catholic Church. I feel offended. I feel that more of my fellow Catholics here in Rochester are being robbed of knowledge of what Catholicism is.

I am afraid that what you described is not licit. From what the article notes, I believe, as I read it, that this is another case of someone trying to be creative with Holy Week without having any basis in the Sacred Tradition of the Church. This kind of activity belongs outside of the Mass in an auditorium or in the parish hall.

I would suggest clipping the article and writing a letter to the bishop saying that this is not licit per Paschale Solemnitatis. If that does not work, a letter to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments should be in order. Send a copy of the letter that you wrote to your bishop, along with the article and I am sure that Rome will probably have more than a few things to say.

Thank you for the good suggestion. It seems hopeless as there is such a plethera of illicitness in this diocese but I should do something and hope with the Grace of God it can bear fruit.

At the parish I attended on Sunday the reading of the Passion was completely replaced by the high school students (Life Teen) doing a dramatic version. On the altar, in the sanctuary. They were not miming, but speaking the parts. The Mass also began with the Priest passing out palms to the children and having a procession around the inside of the church; I’d never seen either of these things before…does this sound licit to anyone?


It does not sound licit, cause the Gospel reading should not be replaced by a play…and if there is a play, it shouldn’t be around the altar, in fact not in the sanctuary at all… the altar is for Mass only.

Why folks decide to use Holy Week as the get creative time of the year is beyond me. The Passion needs to be proclaimed in the manner dictated by the Church in Paschale Solemnitatis:

  1. The passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is, by three persons who take the part of Christ, the narrator, and the people. The passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers. In the latter case, the part of the Christ should be reserved to the priest.

What you described is an abuse and, unfortunately, a further objection to the particular movement sponsoring this kind of activity. If they want to perform a Passion play, then, they could very well have this outside of the confines of the Mass, at the parish hall or outdoors.

The palms are not just for the children; they are for everyone. To reduce this to a children’s only matter fails to take into account that this is for all of the faithful. Now, I can understand if the weather is bad and the procession would be moved indoors; however, what you are describing is a bit much.

I would address this matter with the pastor and ask him why this happened, especially since it runs contrary to the norms of the Church.

Something else to consider is the fact that there is either the solemn or simple entrance for Palm Sunday. The procession, while recommended for outside, would not be advisable if the weather is bad. That is what I was trying to say in my latest post.

My concern was that I read (in the post that I was responding to) that palms were given only to the children. I am not against kids; however, the entire assembly of the faithful should be included.

Now, regarding the replacement of the proclamation of the Passion with a play, that is wrong on so many levels.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit