Why is liturgical dance an illicit practice?

After all, if properly cheoriographed, (sp) it could be a beautiful performance to witness!

Hi Rosslyn.
this CAF link explains:

God bless.
Happy Easter

  1. “Choreographed”

  2. The Mass is not about performance or entertainment. In my opinion, this is the most important reason for the exclusion of liturgical dance.

Interestingly, all the instances of dancing to worship God (Exodus 15, 2 Samuel 6) were outside the context of the actual liturgical worship in the Temple.

It is illicit when done during Mass because it violates the rubrics of the Mass, which do not call for dance anywhere in them.

It is not illicit outside of Mass– in an auditorium, in the parish hall, out on the lawn, or anywhere else a group may care to perform.

I will state up front, I am not a fan of liturgical dance. I do, however, live in a diocese where it was prevalent, even in Masses with the Bishop. I say was because we have a new Bishop and I am happy to say, I don’t think I’ll be seeing any at any of his Masses.

Anyway, a question about this, regarding the “outside of Mass” liturgical dance.

In my diocese, most of the liturgical dance took place during the processional and recessional. Technically, are those parts of the Mass bound by liturgical rubrics?
I ask this because when I posed the question to a priest friend, he said that they were not. I have no reason to doubt him, but I am curious as to what others may think.

Because, ultimately, the Mass is a sacrifice, not an aesthetic celebration.

I think part of the problem is the term itself:
“liturgical dance” which suggests a place within Mass.
We have a neighboring church that does what they call “liturgical dance”. Our CORE group asked the pastor if we could invite them to share their dance with us.
He asked me "Are you asking for me to offer a 1 pm Saturday Mass? If they are coming and simply dancing for us, it’s not liturgical dance. It’s just dancing to worship music of their denomination. Which is fine. Party with them in the parish hall and host a picnic.
But we’re not having Mass with dancing.
The term itself SOUNDS like at some point it was permitted.
Roundabout way of saying “can there be dancing at Mass?”
Some priests love it, and certainly other cultures in other countries embrace it.
But around here…I don’t know any priests that allow it.

The mass is to be the center, focus. This is not a concert or a dance. The focus is to be on the priest and Eucharist, not the dancers.

In Africa, I think liturgical dance is accepted, because there, it’s part of the culture. In most of the rest of the world, it’s not associated with worship. It’d detract and distract.

In Western culture, it’s inappropriate.

Could a priest get into trouble from his superior (bishop I’m guessing) if he had such a danceduring mass?

Im a bad speller-- thanks for correction.

Yes, he could, if his bishop cared to stop it. Which depends on if his bishop is someone who would use it in the first place, which I am pretty sure the majority would not even consider.

Why not put up a May Pole and go the whole hog. The Mass centers around and through the Eucharist. Readings from the Scripture, the Homily and hymns all focus on the mystery of the sacrament.
The Church is right to disallow distracting theatrical performances that have no liturgical meaning in themselves but might only be found in the interpretation as one would in a ballet or a performance of Hair.
The Happy Clappers have gone the whole way to pure entertainment of a rock show.
Let our modern liturgy at least maintain its dignity as it declines into a slipshod banality of worship. It still is and always will be the sacrifice of Calvary, a mystery and our most cherished sacrament, no matter the rubrics.

Liturgical dance is illicit for the same reason that on Holy Thursday it is wrong to wsh the feet of women or non-Catholics.

I don’t care for dance during the liturgy either, but then I’m not a big fan of guitar Masses either but that’s what my parish mostly offers. Having said that, a few years ago, we had a part of our teen group perform a Phillipino dance routine during the offertory—again, I didn’t particularly care for it, but I think many really liked it and it was done modestly and respectfully as prayer and praise. As to only washing women’s feet on Holy Thursday, every parish I’ve been at in the past 10 years has included women in the 12 people whose feet were washed–infact one year, I was one of the 12 --and I’m a woman. Moreover, I haven’t heard what he did this year, but last year, Pope Francis himself included women in the group whose feet he washed. No big deal.:shrug:

Pax Christi! He is risen!

Well, I don’t know about a maypole… How about we take a page from the Hasidic Jews and let the lector dance down the aisle holding the lectionary aloft?

Okay, just kidding.

Dancing (and applause) are not appropriate. Period.

God bless.

There are good reasons against liturgical dance and there are bad reasons against it. Sure, it’s not the purpose of Mass but neither is listening to organ music or reciting the Kyrie or bowing yet they are all a part of the Mass. The purpose of the Mass is to please God and to receive him. But I don’t buy that liturgical dance does that. Standing and waving your arms might. Such a tradition is known in the west among Protestants and I think it can be appropriate in some Catholic churches. But running around the altar with ribbons? How is that of spiritual value in any way? A play in the middle of Mass would make more sense than that. In fact that’s kind of what we have during the Good Friday reading.

The recessional is not part of the Mass which ended when the priest said, “The Mass is ended.” The entrance procession is part of Mass but when exactly the procession begins can be fuzzy. E.g., if two songs are sung during the procession, can the procession be considered to begin at the final song?

Cardinal Arinze on the topic.


Do you think in civil matters that government officials should be exempt from following he laws of the government?

I think frankly that it doesn’t matter WHAT I think civil officials should or shouldn’t do anymore—they ALL pretty much do their own thing from the moment they get elected now days!! LOL!

All humor aside though, I think in the church, there is a big difference between tradition and faith and dogma. I think nobody–including a Pope–can change matters of faith and dogma.I think tradition CAN change and in some cases probably SHOULD change. Things like women wearing head scarves in church, receiving communion in one’s hand and partaking under both species, and the feet washing to me, are among that latter group—and don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly enjoy having my foot washed in front of the entire church and it’s a PIA at my age (63) to get my sock and shoe off etc. so I pretty much have to be chased down to agree to do it. One time when they asked me, I managed to pass it off on my husband–and I felt quite lucky! I do think it is more meaningful to younger people–this year, I noticed one teen girl from the Confirmation Class was among the 12 “wash-ees”. The dancing thing has already been pointed out as being appropriate in, say, Africa as its part of their tradition. As I said earlier, if I could, I’d go back to the pre-V2 Latin Mass–but Mass is not Burger King and I don’t get it my way. The USA is such a blend of ethnic cultures anymore that I’m sure we will probably see more things like dance incorporated into the Mass. This doesn’t mean that I personally like it–only that I can read the writing on the wall. I’m sure you didn’t mean to imply that Pope Frances somehow did wrong or was sacriligious by washing a woman’s feet!:thumbsup:

Good stuff (and hilarious, too)! I love all those Cardinal Arinze videos! :slight_smile:

You are right about the difference between discipline and dogma.

The practice of fasting has changed, but still the Church says eating meat on Good Friday is forbidden. It is sinful. This is a matter of discipline or practice. It can be changed. Suppose your priest or the pope decided it would be a good idea to roast and eat a sacrificed animal.

The practice of confessing our sins as we do is a discipline. It did not develop for centuries. Now the Church says Catholics must confess their sins. It is Church law. I know priests who tell their parishioners it is optional.

The Sunday Mass obligation is discipline. The pope has the power to say it is optional. He can change this Church law and others if he so wishes.

But suppose instead of changing the law he ignored it. Suppose he said he was not going to say or attend Mass, because it did not matter.

Ordaining only single men is a discipline of the Roman Church. It is Church law. It can be changed. But suppose the pope did not change this law and instead ordained a group of married men.

If the laws that prescribe how we practice the faith can be ignored by the clergy and the pope, why should you or I follow any of them?

Suppose the president decided next year he would not file a tax return.

It is the same thing.

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