November 13, 2010

Why dance when you refuse to bow ... to bow for HEAVEN'S sake?

[First posted in April of 2006, but having a new comment today]

I wonder if those who wish to import dance into the Mass actually respect and carry out all the physical movements the Church already requires at Mass.

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275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.

(a) A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.

(b) A bow of the body, that is to say a profound bow, is made … in the Creed at the words Et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit ... made man)….
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When we begin the Mass, we are to make the Sign of the Cross as the priest says, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Here, “the three Divine Persons are named together”, so we are to bow our heads. At the end of Mass, the priest blesses the people by making the Sign of the Cross and again names the three Divine Persons together, so we are to bow our heads for that also.

We are to bow our heads at the name of Jesus. In observing this myself, I have come to notice that in some passages of the Gospel of John the name of Jesus is present in practically every sentence. Before my priestly ordination, instead of bobbing my head up and down repeatedly as I listened to the Gospel of John, I would simply bow my head the first time I heard the name of Jesus and keep my head bowed until the Gospel reading was over. Now that I am a priest, whenever I read the Gospel of John aloud during Mass I simply look down at the page (thus bowing my head) each time the name of Jesus occurs. Paying attention to bowing makes me pay closer attention to the text.

Notice that we are to bow at the name “of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.” I wonder how many so-called “liturgical dancers” and “liturgical dance promoters” do this. Do they prefer to do their own thing— that is, import something foreign to the Mass rather than do what the Mass already requires?

I find the greatest irony in comparing the number of people who hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer (a gesture not even mentioned in the guidelines for Mass) versus the number of people who make the required profound bow “in the Creed at the words Et incarnatus est (by the power of the Holy Spirit ... made man)”. It seems the majority holds hands. Almost no one makes the profound bow or any other bow.


Blogger dilexitprior said...

Ughhh. . . I had a terrible hand holding experience the other day. Really quite awful actually. It involved everyone being called up to form a circle around the altar. I wanted to leave but there was no way out without seriously disrupting the Mass (not that everyone coming up to hold hands in a circle around the altar isn't disrupting). Oh, it was awful.

I'm finding it so hard to witness liturgical abuses because I grew up for the first eighteen years of my life in a really solid orthodox parish. Not Latin Mass or ultra traditionalist, but just really solid. The idea of liturgical abuses had never crossed my mind until I moved away to school. Now I find myself often coming home from Mass looking up the Redemptionis Sacramentum because I'm not even sure of what's going on at Mass. It's only now in retrospect that I've come to really appreciate the parish I grew up in.

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Andrew S. said...

I never knew that you were supposed to bow at that point in the Creed. Of course I'll be embarassed if I do it, cause I'll be like the only one.

I think this may be related to the aversion amongst some with regards to kneeling? Thoughts?

11:51 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

That bow is printed in the "missalette". It always has been.

Even one priest I know (who's old enough to be my father), did not know that this has always been in the printed Missal.

12:13 PM  
Blogger glorybe said...

I have always done the profound bow in the Creed, and have started doing the other bows about five years ago. But, I am a convert since, 1994, so I may be considered a horse of a different color, if you know what I mean.

Just for the record, I truly dislike liturgical dance, since it is a total misrepresentation of the Vatican II intention. Oh, well! Hopefully, this silliness will die off in time.

Thanks for a wonderful post! God bless!

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Gaius said...

I always want to ask, why do people perform actions that are not part of the liturgy, and ignore the ones that actually are?

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Donna said...

My husband and I are the only two people in our entire parish I think (aside from our priest, but even he only makes a half bow) who bow during the creed. Even 9 months pregnant I still bow. We follow Jimmy Akin's advice and keep our heads down, close our eyes and clasp our hands in prayer during the Our Father so that people do not try to hold our hands.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Olivia said...

I fully agree with what you say "why dance when you refuse to bow" Many years ago the then PP of my parish introduced 'liturgical dance' (from where I stood there was nothing liturgical about it, seriously!) Oh, how I hated those days, thanks be to God they are all over.

Regarding the bow, even though I follow it to the 'T', others do not know about it. I have never seen the priest bow during the Creed either. So thank you for posting it. When others in the congregation watch me bow at required times during the Holy Mass, I think what goes through their mind at that time is.. "Look, a 21st century Pharisee!" (I would rather be a fool for Christ, than be nothing at all.) Sadly though no one taught me when to bow during the Holy Mass, I picked it up when I started saying the 'Liturgy of the Hours' (another something which I discovered by myself through the grace of God) and now I do it out of pure reverence.

At the Lord's Prayer, I stand with eyes shut, head bowed down and my hands joined (not with my neighbor) Last year when I was in Bangkok, I heard daily mass at the Holy Redeemer. At the Lord's Prayer, all the people stretched out and held each other's hands, and the priest asked the rest of us to follow the crowd, since he knew there were visitors too. I felt so awkward and reluctantly joined in.

I always wonder why people try to introduce the 'extra' when they cannot cope with the 'ordinary'!!!

God Bless!!!

2:25 AM  
Anonymous Dino said...

At the Padre Nuestro, I simply put my hands together and bow my head.
Am wondering, though, when did it become right for everyone, altargirls, altarboys, readers, and the entire congregation to assume the orans posture(hands raised like the priest)several times during the Mass, and since when did it become the norm for servers to stand beside the celebrant at the consecration and hold their hands as if they were concelebrating? Distracting, no?

9:25 PM  

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