Is Dancing Allowed In The Catholic Liturgy?

The permissibility of dancing in Catholic liturgy has been a subject of discussion and interpretation within the Church. The official liturgical documents, such as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), do not specifically mention dance as a part of the Roman Catholic liturgy.

In the past, there have been instances of dance being incorporated into liturgical celebrations, especially in certain cultural contexts. However, the use of dance in the liturgy has been a topic of debate, and opinions may vary among different individuals and communities within the Church.

It’s important to note that any liturgical practices, including the use of dance, should be in accordance with the principles and guidelines set forth by the Church authorities. Local bishops and diocesan liturgical offices may provide specific guidance on this matter based on the cultural context and pastoral considerations of a particular region.

In summary, while there is no outright prohibition against dancing in the Catholic liturgy, its appropriateness and incorporation would depend on the specific context, cultural norms, and adherence to the principles of reverence and respect within the sacred liturgy. If you are uncertain about the appropriateness of dance in a particular liturgical setting, it is advisable to consult with the local bishop or the relevant diocesan liturgical authority for guidance.

How about the Sinulog Dance Inside the Church?

Here is the excerpt from Silvestre de Leon, Catholic and Filipino writer interested in theology, philosophy, liturgy, politics, and law.

The Feast of Sto Nino celebration in the Philippines (and other parts of the word) incorporate the Sinulog dance moves are often identified to be two steps forward and one step backward as the dancer sways to a distinct rhythm of drums while shouting ‘Pit Señor’. This movement is made to resemble the current (sulog) of what was known as Cebu’s Pahina River.

The solemn celebration is then followed by the dancing of the traditional sinulog, wherein the whole congregation, as well as the priests, offers their petitions to the Holy Child through dancing, waving their hands, and raising their own image of the Santo Niño.

This devotional dance is clearly not a liturgical abuse (unlike recent innovations in the liturgy employing “liturgical dancing”. First, the sinulog dance is done outside the Mass, second, it is not a performance but a prayer, third, it is a tradition that predates the Vatican Councils and the Council of Trent — an immemorial custom

This was one of the ways the Western missionaries brought Christ’s salvation into these islands. The sinulog dance, which has its origins as a pagan dance for offering prayers to pagan idols, was then cultivated by the missionaries by having the Holy Child in place of the pagan idols. But then came another challenge — the natives were poorly evangelized (after the death of Magellan) to the point that they treated the Santo Niño as an idol (they knew less or even nothing about Jesus Christ).

Thanks to the great zeal of the next missionaries, starting with those who discovered the image in 1565, the natives were taught about Christ, who is being represented by the image. The natives soon knew that their prayers are not intended to the lifeless image, but to its prototype — the Holy Child Jesus being represented by the image.


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