Friday, June 03, 2011

I have tried Liturgical Dance

Wet liberals like me are always looking for ways of communicating the faith, the uniqueness of Christ, we don't want to ram it down people's throats. We realise Catholic schools don't work*, well, not to produce practicing Catholics. Ascension Day is pretty good for "public signs". When I was younger I tried Ascension Day kites and those fiery paper bag balloons, you really need a hundred or so for a real effect.
I have tried so many things that are relevant, never puppets but I have to admit it I have tried liturgical dance, not doing it myself and never at Mass but I once had a group of charismatic missioners in my last parish. I have even tried projecting images on the ceiling during a Vigil.

The trouble is these things, like contemporary Catholic education don't work, and now I have run out of bright ideas, like so many priests. So many younger priests have positively rejected them. There is one option open to us, which is to look at the riches of the past. Here is what Traditionally happened, before Ascension there was a period of prayer, Rogation Days, following Christ, imploring his sanctification of the world and blessing of new growth.

*a radio programme produced by Mark Dowd in peparation for the Papal visit, this extract has pupils at a Catholic school speaking about what it means for them to be Catholic, the last speaker is "Youth Chaplain".

11 comments:

Harry said...

"When I was young,which wasn't yesterday,Ascension Day was very important and the pews were always packed.At St Mary Mags it was standing room only.

Didn't seem to be much interest yesterday,no more than 30 souls apart from the Choir."

A return to tradition does not seem to be working.

Mike Cliffson said...

"Seises" dancing in Seville cathedral; Liturgal dancing here preserved by Papal bull many centuries ago.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDH2qw7_mJg
One dance is done to reverence the Blessed Sacrament, The seises begin by carrying in the monstrance, The rest of the dance is made up of military-like marches done at the foot of the altar after the monstrance is placed upon it.
Mozarabic thread quote "the Catholic Encyclopedia has mazos, but it seems to be a typo - the correct term is actually mozos (sing. mozo)!
Back in the old days, mozos were usually boys or young men who wished to pursue an ecclesiastical career and were thus tonsured at a young age - they were thus also called clericuli, 'little clerics'. So yeah, they were indeed, in a sense, the altar-boys: they assisted the priest and sung at the liturgy. The seises* also belong in this category." unquote
Etc.

Daily Gadfly said...

Having seen many types of Catholic worship from good to bad and it seems to me that for it to be successful it either has to be ultra Traditional or ultra 'up to date' flash bang wallop (to coin a phrase). Any thing in between simply just does not do the job. These were also the conclusions that Anne Widdecombe came up with in her recent TV analysis on the state of Christianity in the UK.

I genuinely believe that most priests should stop worrying about how to do trendy stuff in front of the kids/teenagers and send them to either Youth 2000 events or the Celebrate events.

The main Youth 2000 event at Walsingham every year is free and up to 3000 young people attend and the organisers really do know what they are doing. They also have smaller weekend events around the country.

The Celebrate events are equally brilliant. The organisation train up teenagers to run streams for different age groups. The teenage stream leaders are self perpetuating in that they started off as youngsters going every year to the events. When they become teenagers they are professionally trained by the Celebrate team and the results are amazing, with the youngster gaining a genuine faith.

It is surprising how successful both organisations are at attracting the same youngsters back year after year.

Personally, I believe that we should get back to real Traditional Catholic masses with our Churches being filled once again with an abundance of Catholic iconography so we know that we are in a real place of worship.

However, I also believe that the UK church must now give up on the piece meal approach to
youngsters and invest in this 'faith movement' approach. It is the only time I have ever seen young people actually end up with genuine faith. So it must be doing something right. I also want to stress that these organisations do promote true church teaching.

Of course, these are the fruits of JPII's New Evangelisation and we have to thank him. Without these events affecting our Catholic youth our churches would have been empty in 30 years time.

Finally, I want to say that if people do not believe that this approach works then I challenge them to attend an event and watch the abundance of youngsters/teenagers going to confession. They will soon change their mind.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Harry, There were about 30 in he Congregation, 10 in the choir loft, 5 on the sanctuary, that is not bad for us for a weekday evening.

The problem is the Bishops having taken away the obligation, it is now just a special feast. How we can get the geni back into the bottle, I don't know, it won't be an appeal to Liberalism or dilution of Catholic identity.

If it wasn't a trad Mass it most probably would have had those numbers

Gail F said...

Hello from America:

This week I have seen numerous posts on the the Basque "liturgical dance" done at one special liturgy a year at blogs all over the place. A weird effort of some kind, I guess, to use an annual, centuries-old event to make people who sensibly oppose modern dance-style performances at mass to appear "against tradition."

Another weird effort is to try to show that "traditional stuff doesn't work" by reporting that people who have never been taught to do something don't, in fact, do it. Weird, eh?

nickbris said...

A chance to gripe about British Education.Interference from successive administrations has led to us having the worst educated school leavers in history.The CBI has complained bitterly about the expense of training new employees in the basics to hold down a simple job.

Teachers are confused about all the changes heaped on them and restrictions on what they can teach as regards RI.

Catholic schools were always seen as superior and anybody fortunate enough to get into one could always read,write,spell and add up,plus we had time for tha Catechism and good Catholic teaching.

All they get now is information on contraception & abortion.

Some things must be left to parents' and teachers must be allowed to teach what they went to University for

MartinT said...

I don't think it matters whether it is 'trad' or not. All that matters is that whatever is done, is done well with sincerity, integrity and faith, and without patronising the congregation.

Good preaching is also vital, as a few platitudes on the gospel of the day don't make much of an impression.

parepidemos said...

My family and I are visiting friends in Scotland where - unlike in England and Wales - the Ascension was never transferred to a Sunday.

As our hosts are fervent Catholics, we accompanied them to the main Ascension Mass
at their parish church, which is never less than 80% full for the main Sunday Mass. For the Ascension, the church was barely 20% full. The PP said that this was normal for his parish and typical in Edinburgh diocese. I just think that holydays of obligation no longer mean much to the average Catholic - and not only in the UK.

berenike said...

St A's and E - "It's a spiritual desert, berenike!" said a friend of mine, who violently allergic to all ecclesiastical politics etc (that is, his comment wasn't a Disgusted Trad of Pumpherston comment).

Anagnostis said...

The collapse of Ascension would not have occurred had it not (in Card. Ratzinger's words, referring to ad orientem)"been preceded by a loss of meaning from within".

The Ascension IS the Gospel - Christ's victory over death and His glorification at the right hand of the Father. Its eclipse signals the rise of "another gospel", another "salvation".

stmarymagdalenchoir said...

There were 12 in the choir loft actually... But numbers are irrelevant to me...It is what we are doing that is important