Thursday, October 8, 2009

How they ‘do liturgy’ in the Diocese of Wollongong

The Sydney Catholic Weekly of two Sundays ago (September 27, 2009) carried the regular “Cross Currents” section on activities in the Diocese of Wollongong. Of particular interest was an item at the top of page 33; the same story is available at the Diocese’s Catholic Education Office (C.E.O.) website:

Students, staff, parents, parishioners, principals, past religious staff, Catholic Education Office representatives, Parish Administrator and Bishop Peter Ingham joined together in celebration of St John Vianney Primary School’s 60th Anniversary at Mass on Thursday August 20.

At a prayerful morning liturgy in the Fairy Meadow Church the history of the school was related by Bishop Peter who praised the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for their pioneering establishment of the school. Current staff and students participated in the mass with readings, song and dance. A generous morning tea followed.
[my emphasis]
At the C.E.O. website there’s a picture, which also appeared in The Catholic Weekly, of four wee lasses, presumably the “students [who] participated in the mass with … dance”. Perhaps their plain white albs and plain green ribands are the Wollongong liturgical intelligentsia’s idea of ‘noble simplicity’. I suppose that I should just be grateful that they managed to find dancers who would wear something less immodest than the usual leotard-and-small-skirt liturgical dance outfit.

The school’s website’s “News and Events” section had the following to say:

The 60th Anniversary of St John Vianney`s.

What a lovely day we celebrated on Thursday 20th August for our 60th Anniversary. We had Mass with the Bishop followed by a morning tea with many of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan who had made a special return visit to SJV. Everyone was very impressed with the music in Mass and our special liturgical dancers. The School Hall was filled with memorabilia which was a great delight to everyone and brought back some wonderful memories.
[my emphasis,]
Apparently the Most August Sacrifice, one and the same Sacrifice as on Mount Calvary in every respect except manner of offering, renewed and represented on the altar (before which the “liturgical dancers” appear to have done their routine; at any rate it’s clearly quite near the sanctuary), just wasn’t “special” or ‘impressive’ enough for the congregation (or perhaps that should be ‘audience’). Sacrileges like this are nothing new in the Church of Wollongong (or in the other Australian Sees, I expect), but this one’s worth mentioning because of the involvement of the local Ordinary. If any of my readers happened to be present at this disgraceful ‘liturgy’ (it can hardly be so called, since the term ‘liturgy’ implies an order of sacred proceedings without arbitrary, erratic, undue variations, an order which ‘liturgical dance’ obviously violates) could you tell me: was Msgr. Ingham the celebrant, or the presider, or did he just assist in choro (ha), or did he merely attend and “relate” his “history of the school”, or some other form of participation altogether?

(And note well: I certainly don’t mean to impute guilt for this disgrace to the children involved, nor necessarily even to the teachers who conceived of and choreographed the routine, since these teachers presumably know no other way to ‘do liturgy’ than according to the prevailing fashions. Blame lies with the liturgical vandals (and their fellow-travellers) to whom it first occurred to desecrate Holy Mass with this kind of frivolity. And blame lies especially with those fellow-travellers in Holy Orders (particularly those who have the fullness of Orders) and whose formative years occurred before the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ was in full swing.)

Reginaldvs Cantvar
Feast of St. Bridget of Sweden, A.D. 2009


Arabella-m said...

Liturgical dance in the presence of the local Ordinary can be seen on page 14 of the April 2009 Ballarat Diocesan News:

Cardinal Pole said...

Thanks very much for that comment, Arabella. I was fascinated to see via the link a form of liturgical dance with which I was previously unfamiliar--a male-female partner dance (or was it a judo demonstration?!). As though liturgical dance wasn't inappropriate enough already, the liturgists have found a new way to detract from the solemnity of the Mass.

It's interesting also as evidence of changing fashions among liturgical dance troupes. During my time at a Wollongong C.E.O. high school (1997-2002), during the numerous Masses with liturgical dance I seem to recall only ever seeing the dancers clad in the aforementioned leotard/skirt combo. These days, the fashion seems to be for the dancers to be fully clad, and in white. I saw similar outfits worn by dancers at a Mass at my local Parish (which I no longer attend) several years ago (well after my high-school graduation).

matthias said...

I am very wary of liturgical dance as i believe it can go from being spiritual to sensuous. I have a friend who is a catholic who went to a Pentecostal service here in Melbourne just for a looksy. He made the point that the young women up on stage were very aware of their sexuality and their sexual appeal and exploited it,and he made these comments with a degree of disgust.