QUAERITUR: teenage girl dancers during Easter vigil

From a reader:

I am from Puerto Rico and I want to consult to you something that bothered me a lot on my Parish’s Paschal Virgil. I belong to the San José Parish in Caguas, Puerto Rico; it is a Discalced Carmelite Parish. Forgive me if my English is not very good, my main language is Spanish.
After the Gloria, about ten teen aged girls came by the doors of the temple and shouted to each other: "He has risen! Did you hear, X?" After that, they all came to the center of the temple and started dancing to a song of an Hispanic Christian group called Tercer Cielo ‘Creeré’ (this group is not catholic nor the song was not about the Resurrection, but about how to trust God to help you in Victory.) At the end of the song, a teen-aged boy came as Jesus and paraded by the Temple as he was "resurrected".
Most of the people in the parish started clapping; I was with my 3 children and thought that it was an irreverence to our Church to do so, so I didn’t.
The deacons of our Parish helped stage the dance and they are not easy to correct, less alone without a document of the Church to use as reference. Also, until I would like to take this before our Parish Priest, but with documentation.
I have looked on the internet (including vatican.va) and I have not find any official document about this theme. Can you kindly guide me towards where should I look? Should I shut up about this?

I would appreciate if you can help me with this issue.

Okay… I’m pretty tired so I am going to ask some folks to offer some responses to you, through me by e-mail, from which I can select to post.  Put the title of this post in the SUBJECT for the e-mail.

But my first reaction is: How long Oh Lord will we endure this abuse?

I would ask any of those people who organized that adolescent romp to show where in the Roman Missal those things are called for.

Get photos and videos… I am sure there are some… and send them to the Congregation for Divine Worship.  Don’t worry: the Prefect’s Spanish is pretty good.  He’ll grasp the essentials if he can see photos and a video.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. From one reader:

    I can’t say it better than this:

    “Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy. In about the third century, there was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an appearance…Dancing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, because, after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the different religions have different purposes – incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy – none of which in compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy as the ‘reasonable sacrifice’.

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger



    Ignatius Press

    Page 198


  2. From a reader:

    Fr. Z,




    Above is the best source that I have found against liturical dance. It’s authority however may be questionable. Key thing is what is at the bottom:



    APRIL/MAY 1982.

    FROM THESE DIRECTIVES, from the NATIONAL CONFERENCE of CATHOLIC BISHOPS, all dancing, (ballet, children’s gesture as dancing, the clown liturgy) are not permitted to be “introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind whatever.”







    “The faithful have a right to a true Liturgy, which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi. The Second Vatican Council’s admonition in this regard must be remembered: “No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.” [Sacrosanctum Concilium] And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that: “Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense.”[Paul VI, address of August 22, 1973: “L’Osservatore Romano,” August 23, 1973.]


  3. From a reader:

    perhaps this would be useful, Father…




    “Dance and the Liturgy


    In the course of their meeting on June 17-18, 2003, the Bishop members, consultants, and advisors of the Committee on the Liturgy considered the question of dance and the Liturgy.

    Recalling the recently revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), the Committee was conscious of the need to take “due regard for the nature and the particular circumstances of each liturgical assembly, [so that] the entire celebration is planned in such a way that it leads to a conscious, active, and full participation of the faithful both in body and in mind….” (GIRM, no. 18) Particular note was taken of the attention paid by the new Roman Missal to gestures and movements at the Mass, which “ought to contribute to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, so that the true and full meaning of the different parts of the celebration is evident and that the participation of all is fostered.” (GIRM, no. 42)


    The “nature and the particular circumstances” (GIRM, no. 18) of certain ethnic communities was also considered, particularly by Catholic immigrants from Zaire, where dance has been approved as a part of the liturgical books of their native land. The importance of a careful observance of the rubrics of such books in regard to the quality and role of dance in the Sacred Liturgy was emphasized by several of the Bishops.

    The place of dance in the liturgy in other parish Masses, however, was examined in the light of the 1975 “qualified and authoritative sketch” published by the Holy See in the journal Notitiae. The article prescribes that in western cultures, dance “cannot be introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind” and that when dances outside of the liturgy are envisioned, they may take place only “in assembly areas that are not strictly liturgical.”


    Recalling the large number of liturgical issues before them and the fact that only a limited number can be adequately prepared for presentation to the Congregation at any given time, the Committee decided not to pursue the question further at this time. At the same time, the Committee cited the need for further scholarly studies of a “historical, anthropological, exegetical and theological” (Varietates legitimae, no. 30) nature which might explore forms of movement which might be found to serve as an appropriate part of processions, which do not take on the appearance of spectacle per se, and which accompany the liturgy, rather than interpret it.”


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