From Mr Joseph G Bracewell SIR – Angela Alexander-Fishwick’s lament for liturgical dance (Letters, July 15) contains a classic example of using Scripture to further one’s own agenda. There are countless opportunities for others to follow suit. Perhaps instead of trying to quieten exuberant toddlers during Mass, parents could quote Psalm 88:16: “Happy the people who know the joyful shout,” for the explanatory notes tell us that the “joyful shout” was a characteristic of Israelite public worship.
Perhaps George W Bush and Tony Blair, wishing to justify recent actions in Iraq, could quote Psalm 17.41, when David gives thanksgiving to the Lord for victory over Saul: “My enemies you put to flight before me and those who hated me you destroyed.” The possibilities are endless.
Ms Fishwick states that the “liturgy should be by and for the people of God”. One cannot help but wonder if she is making the fundamental mistake of placing Man at the centre of the liturgy and not God. Sacrosanctum Concillium is perfectly clear on the role of the laity during Holy Mass: “The role of the faithful in the Eucharist is to recall the passion, resurrection and glorification of the Lord, to give thanks to God and to offer the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also together with him.” We are asked the question: “Do we want to encourage creativity and allow for greater diversity?” I firmly believe that the results of the last 40 years, which we are now reaping, answer this question in its entirety.
Finally, Ms Fishwick attempts to reinforce her argument by stating that “we have a long tradition of liturgical dance”. This old Philistine has to admit that mercifully the only liturgical dance that he has encountered in almost 60 years of Catholicism is the St Bernard’s Waltz at the parish ball.
Yours faithfully, JOSEPH BRACEWELL Nelson, Lancs From Fr Ian Vane SIR – Reading Angela Alexander Fenwick’s letter leaves me somewhat concerned about her understanding of liturgy and the meaning of the word “sacramental”.
We have recently had a revised General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) and we also have the document on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council. In neither documents is there anything about “bringing our stories before God”. Nor does the Catechism talk of “sacramental” or sacrament in the way that your correspondent uses the words.
Source documents from the Magisterium of the Church are there precisely to order the liturgical action of the whole Church, which is why anyone involved in Liturgy should know of their content.
Curiously, Austin Flannery’s edition of the documents of the Second Vatican Council does not have “dance” listed in the general index; come to that, neither does the GIRM or the Catechism.
Yours faithfully, IAN VANE St Charles Borromeo Worthing, W Sussex