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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blindsided by Liturgical Dance

They threw a curve ball at me at Mass this past Sunday.

Rock of Faith, a contemporary liturgical music group I'm in, was scheduled to provide the music for the fourth grade Mass.

All seemed well as we readied for Mass - until I looked up. There were some young ladies in dresses with beribboned sticks obviously waiting to take part in the entrance procession.

Liturgical dancers. Ready to perform what the pastor euphemistically calls "sacred movement."

Movement which has no part in Western liturgy.

I was irked. I had made it clear to pastor that I did not think liturgical dance was appropriate at Mass. I had refused to play at one Mass when the dancers had been announced in advance.

This time, there was no advance notice.

I felt blindsided. (Added later: I don't believe however there was any deliberate ill-intent.)

We began to play. They proceeded down the aisle twirling those ribbons. I had to work hard to focus on what I was playing.

Then they stood (down off the altar platform) flanking the pastor, twirling away as he led the opening prayers.

Their twirling looked silly - and decidedly not sacred.

The thought crossed my mind that I should just unplug my guitar and leave. But that would not have been fair to the other members of Rock of Faith. There were a couple of pieces where they were depending on my guitar playing, and they clearly had no time to prepare for my absence (as they had the time I refused to participate in the dance-stained Mass).

As soon as Mass ended I left the church (I had to get to the mall for duty as one of Santa's helpers) without saying a word to anyone, feeling angry and, in a way, betrayed.

I plan to ask the pastor if he would please announce in the bulletin in advance whenever the dancers will be participating at a particular Mass - just as he announces when Rock of Faith will be playing.

But what if he doesn't?

Do I walk away from the choir and Rock of Faith because I can never be certain when he'll spring this on us again?

And even if he does post announcements in advance, how many times will I have to not play with one of the two groups I'm in?

Is it time to move to another parish? I can just imagine how my wife will react to that.

So much running through my mind.

Including the image of four young ladies twirling ribboned sticks in what should be a time for sacredness.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't know how to answer your questions.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Brother Charles said...

Ask for what you need and insist on respect. You have the high ground in every way; music is essential to liturgy, so-called liturgical dance is eminently dispensable.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

In case I was unclear - the dancers were not themselves physically twirling. I was referring to their ribbons.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Yikes. There is no need for that. I am convinced that young people can find so many other ways to serve the Church and use their talents than twirling ribbons around the altar. At best, it's distracting.

8:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home