View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blindsided by Liturgical Dance (part 2)

I did have a chat with the pastor.

He acknowledged that they should have posted something in the bulletin beforehand to warn (my words, not his) people who don't like liturgical dance.

He said they will post something in the future. Which is part of what I wanted.

But ...

Liturgical dance will continue, in part because the diocese allows it.

There will be times when I will not be able to take part in music ministry - either with the choir or with Rock of Faith - because there will be dance. That saddens me: Two of the last three times Rock of Faith provided music had dance, and so if I'd been warned I would not have been playing. How many more times will that happen? I don't know.

He did not want to discuss the issue itself.

Too bad. I had all sort of ideas bubbling around in my head.

One of the concerns at the parish is getting young people involved. A good thing.

One thing that would help is making the Masses more orthodox in general to help foster an environment of sacredness. Some of the things that could be done:

Have people kneel for the Consecration, as they are supposed to. Our parish has adopted the bad liturgical practice of standing throughout.

Stop the practice of having children come up to surround the altar and hold hands for the Our Father.

Begin to teach people about behavior and dress at Mass. Show up on time. Stay until the end. Don't eat, drink or chew gum during Mass. Don't wear gym shorts and tee shirts to Mass. Don't wear revealing clothing. Don't carry on conversations with other people during the Mass.

Tell one of the retired priests who assists at the parish to stop using his homilies to criticize the Vatican, to promote women's ordination, and to misrepresent Church teachings and statements.

Just those few changes would help to show young people Church is more than just a social time, that it has a deep, spiritual dimension.

As for Youth ministry:

Begin to include more elements of prayer, like Benediction and Eucharistic Adoration, in activities.

Have the young people participate as a group in such events as the March for Life in Washington, or the Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion here in Rochester on Good Fridays. Have them help in the food pantry.

Start a youth choir.

Start Scout troups, or, even better, some Catholic equivalent of Scouting.

Reach out the St. John Bosco School to see if they would be interested in renting the school building (and bring in some orthodox Catholic education!).

Start a regularly scheduled young adult/teen Mass. Have Rock of Faith provide the music. Get youths and young adults to become the lectors, Eucharistic ministers, etc.

Plan regular movie nights featuring Catholic films (coupled with prayer).

Have Catholic-oriented concerts and theater events.

Invite dynamic orthodox youth-oriented speakers and musicians - or go as a group when other parishes have such people.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

We do a lot at the parish, but we could do more.

Dancing is not the answer. And what will they do in a couple of years if a new bishop comes in and starts phasing out such activities?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"One of the concerns at the parish is getting young people involved. A good thing."

Any consideration that it's things like this which drive people away? Does he need to be informed that a church which has often utilized liturgical dance, in the form of Good Shepherd, has lost over 600 people this past decade?

I'm still a bit confused about why the priest feels there is a need to introduce liturgical dance into his liturgies. If the whole thrust behind it is to get the young more involved, isn't he excluding young men, who would be far less likely to take part?

4:44 PM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

This is quite the dilemma (one I am familiar with).

"Our parish has adopted the bad liturgical practice of standing throughout."
Whether this priest knows it or not, he has no authority whatsoever to allow people to stand. This is a grave offense and I'd question whether I'd allow a priest that does this to consider themselves my spiritual father.

You are so right that it starts at the top. People are willing to follow a strong role model. When the priest (or bishop) sets a bad example then it's all downhill from there.

Since we left our geographical parish, I've reflected a few times on the pros/cons on not being a member of a local parish. It'd be nice to be able to drive down the street for bible study, or get to know other Catholics in the neighborhood, but for me it's just not worth it. Every time I go to a more mainstream parish, I can't help thinking that I'm back in the protestant church that I left. It's a free for all. No one seems to understand what it means to be Catholic (and sadly what it means to be Christian).

Going to OLV (whether or not you like Fr. A's demeanor or personality) to me means that I am going more in the right direction. I am challenged each week - not just by the sermons, but by the quiet reverence of the priest, servers, and people in the pews. There's no mistaking the fact that you are face to face with your creator and that is humbling indeed. The light is exposed in the darkness of my soul.

Anyways, I'm going a little off topic, but it'd be great to see you at OLV's midnight mass. If nothing else, I'm sure you'll hear some great music. I believe the TLM community also has an 8 AM mass at St. Stans.

My prayers are w/ you and your parish.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ben - thanks for the suggestion. Actually, I'm looking at St. Leo's in Hilton - a small-town parish that's more to my taste.

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

St. Leo is a nice parish.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Interstate Catholic said...

I've heard the retired priest preach several times in diffferent areas. It's the same sermon over and over. Never needs a microphone though.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

At some point you need to discern whether your staying in this parish will be good for (a) your own spiritual life and (b) others in the parish. By this I mean, are you making a positive difference for people by your example & service there?
There are plenty of other positive ways to engage young people without involving dance.
As to "Scout troops, or even better, Catholic alternatives..." I would argue that you can't get much better than Boy/Cub Scouting. I've been down the whole road from Tiger to Eagle with my older son, and my younger one is a Cub now (my husband is the Cubmaster--for the second time). Our troop is sponsored by the parish's Holy Name Society and there are many opportunities for boys to earn church-related achievements as well as to perform acts of service that benefit the parish community. Girl Scouting is another story, but I'd never steer a boy away from Boy Scouts.

8:03 AM  

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