I am inspired this morning by the repetition of the word, discipline in the first reading (Hebrew 12:4-15) and an old video (mind you old here means around 2002 or 2003 lol) of Cardinal Arinze answering a question concerning dancing within the Mass. Let me restrict myself to what he said pertaining to Africa (and Asia). He says in the culture of both continents, there are GRACEFUL MOVEMENTS that is part of their way of expressing joy and thanksgiving. Hence that self-expression of joy and thanksgiving is permitted within the liturgical space; for the celebration of mass achieves four things: Adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and petition. Every movement must help to achieve this, if not, it is unacceptable.
Sometimes I am left pondering the kind of dance that is been exhibited during the celebration of the mass and even more worrying is when the blessed sacrament is exposed. One has to wonder whether the dance is for display of self or in adoration of God. People often cite the dancing of David but they forget why he was dancing that way: in adoration of God in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant and not to draw attention to self. Some of the dance I see particularly during the exposition of the sacrament when Jesus is REALLY and TRULY present (just as in the mass), makes one question: can we dance the same way in the presence of someone we respect, love and hold in high esteem? What is scary nowadays are the dances sometimes displayed by mass servers and perhaps even some priests when they are carried away.
Not all dances are acceptable at all places even if they are not wrong in principle. In our culture dance communicates; it either communicates love, friendship, war or even tell a story. Hence, in an environment when we want to communicate love, we cannot have a war dance move. So must Christians and particularly Catholics be careful of what they express at which space. A dance that is acceptable in a concert even when it’s a Christian concert may not be appropriate for the liturgy which seeks to achieve adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and petition.
Joy is divine gift that needs to be express but so is discipline. Rejoice in the liturgy but remember you are rejoicing IN THE LORD, and not in yourself.
Source: Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Salifu