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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Liturgical Dance

Liturgy? Yes!
Dancing? Yes!

Liturgical dance? No, no, no.



No.

~~~

(Mostly no). I did once attend Mass with a congregation that was 99% Haitian. The people who brought up the gifts swayed to music as they walked forward, and in that context their movements seemed as serious, as joyful, as authentic, as appropriate as a wedding march.

By contrast, any dance that would turn a congregation into an audience observing a performance would be out of place at a Mass.

~~~

Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has publicly criticized introducing dance into the Liturgy, as it risks reducing this sacred rite to a spectacle. In an address in 2003, for example, the cardinal responded to a question on "liturgical dance": "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"; and he noted 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". (See Cardinal Responds to Questions on Liturgy AB October 2003)

There has not been an express ruling from the Holy See against so-called "liturgical dance" -- primarily because, as Cardinal Arinze also observed, dance-like movements during processions are customary in some countries, and thus may be a legitimate form of "inculturation" of the Litugy in these regions. This kind of ritual dance has been introduced into several papal liturgies in recent years -- on occasions usually connected with African or Asian culture. These are special exceptions, however, that are to be seen in the context of the Holy Father's unique universal role, not as precedent-setting liturgical variations.

But the Holy See has addressed the matter of dance, constantly stressing the proper distinction between permitting indigenous cultural traditions and introducing innovations into the celebration of the Liturgy...

On "Liturgical Dance"

See also: "Liturgical dance smackdown, Benedict style", and Gerald Augustinus's Liturgical Dance Collection

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