The Liturgy is Like a Dance


The liturgy is like a dance. But if a lady’s dancing partner tries to create his own version of the waltz, it becomes difficult, even painful.

Both dance and liturgy have rubrics. Rubrics provide the patterns or templates of action. If I’m dancing the two-step with my wife (we’re from Texas), but I suddenly “innovate” and start dancing the “three-step” then her little toes are going to be smashed.

When either clergy or laity superadd something to the Mass, they are stepping on toes. It may be entertaining, interesting, or just plain fun. Yet it’s a distraction. People turn their focus to what is new. When clergy do this, it’s tragic example of “all eyes on me.” It’s clericalism at its worst.

C.S. Lewis once wrote about liturgy: “As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you do not notice.”

In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode “Data’s Day” (yes, I’m a Trekker) the android Data desires to acquire the skill of dancing. As he dances with Dr. Beverly Crusher, he watches his feet. He learns that this is not the point of dancing. The point is to look at your partner’s face.


Data learns that dancing is more about the face than it is the feet.

If the liturgy is being improvised, everyone is looking at their feet and trying to count the steps. However, if the liturgy follows the rubrics, the template, then the worshipper can spend her time looking at the Holy Face.

Question: Does the Holy Mass allow you to dance into the Divine Presence or are you looking at your feet? Please explain by leaving a comment.

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