Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Dramatising the Good Friday reading of the Passion
Dramatising the Good Friday reading of the Passion QUESTION from Gerry Foley May 16, 2001
Dear Mr Slavek
On Good Friday this year, instead of a listening to a reading of the Passion, we had a dramatisation, acted out by some of the youth of our parish. The words used followed the reading exactly.
I found this approach very engaging, and many in the congregation seemed to be very moved - especially when the figure of Jesus carried the cross up the aisle.
My question: was this acceptable from a liturgical point of view?
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on May 21, 2001
Dear Mr. Foley,
This is not explicitly addressed in liturgical books, but the following is close enough. It comes from PASCHALES SOLEMNITATIS, which is an instruction for the celebration of Easter. The Congregation for Divine Worship gave it in 1988.
33. The passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is, by three persons who take the parts of Christ, the narrator and the people. The passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers. In the latter case, the part of Christ should be reserved to the priest. The proclamation of the passion should be without candles and incense, the greeting and the signs of the cross are omitted; only a deacon asks for the blessing, as he does before the Gospel.
For the spiritual good of the faithful the passion should be proclaimed in its entirety, and the readings which precede it should not be omitted.
I would argue that what has happened in your parish was not permissible from a liturgical point of view. First, it does not exist in our Catholic tradition. Second, adding the acting is adding to the Liturgy, which is not permitted by Vatican II documents. Third, it seems to me to be another step of making the Mass a show rather than worship, therefore stripping its dignity of being sacred.
With these things having been said, however, I must note that what you experienced sounds like something that would make an EXCELLENT devotional practice, totally appropriate for inside church during Holy Week, but not during sacred Liturgy.
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