The Sacred Drama of the Traditional Liturgical Rites

Shawn Tribe of Liturgical Arts Journal has written an excellent article on the sense of sacred drama in the traditional liturgy. Some excerpts below:

This notion of “sacred drama” may well cause some to pause; the liturgy is not theatre they might proclaim. They are right in one sense; the liturgy is not “theatre” in the sense of play acting, this is entirely true. However, the sacred liturgy does indeed traditionally employ theatricality to powerful and moving effect such that it stirs the soul and moves the heart and mind.

By contrast, let’s compare this same liturgical moment as it is expressed in the traditional liturgical form. In this form we see the interaction and overlap of these various ceremonial and liturgical parts (the incensation of the altar, the sacred ministers prayers and ceremonial gestures, the singing of the Kyrie, etc.) which fosters this sense of sacred drama:

The net result of this intersection is a sacred drama that sees each actor playing his own part. Secondarily, it also lends a sense of objectivity and importance to the priestly activity of the sacred liturgy as it emphasizes that what the priest does at the altar is independently and objectively important, regardless of whether anyone else is there, or whether the liturgy is sung or not. It emphasizes, in other words, the aspect of divine worship.

Read the whole article here:

January 20, 2021