In Honor of the Beast?
by Jim Evans
IT WAS NIGHT.
The following is a pictorial report of the Palm Sunday 2008 Mass at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Mn. The commentary below are direct quotes taken from the parish website. The author is Nancy Lynch, a parishioner.
“Palm Sunday is finally here. We are so prepared to participate in the liturgy…”
“We start by singing “He Turned the Water into Wine,” while two children dressed the alter. The narrator, Kristin Aitchinson, read the gospel about Jesus entering into Jerusalem. Singing “Prepare Ye” several children enter and hand out palms followed by the Disciples and animal puppets also handing out palms. Lastly enters the Jesus puppet with a donkey at his side. Cyril Paul, who plays the voice of Jesus, starts singing “Lord of the Dance” as Jesus dances and the offertory baskets are passed…”
“Around the alter, the Last Supper is prepared as the Jesus mimics Father Jim Cassidy as he performs the Consecration and gathers us for the Our Father and exchanging the sign of peace. Singing “Lamb of God” we share in Communion…”
“The narrator sets the mood for the betrayal. As Jesus sings “Stay Awake and Watch Me” he dances around as the Disciples divide the children into three groups surrounding him. The first Disciple denies Jesus, turning his face away. With musical emphasis all members of that group put up their masks, hiding their faces, shutting them off from God. After being denied three times the Jesus soloist stops singing and Jesus freezes. Silence surrounds us!”…
“Again the narrator sets the scene for the lamentations while “Lord of the Dance” plays as an instrumental with Jesus again dancing, while all faces are masked. The narrator pulls her lamentation from around her neck and reads it. She then moves to put it on Jesus’ shoulder. Another member of the crowd rises and removes her lamentation and puts it on Jesus. The narrator speaks the sorrow of the crowd by reading lamentations with the music increasing in volume and becoming discordant. More and more people from the crowd cover him with their lamentations as the narrator speaks the sorrow loudly…”
“The pace and intensity builds so that soon the narrator has only to say single key words as people lay their lamentations onto Jesus. The Jesus puppet’s movement becomes a distorted and a painful parody of his former beautiful dance. The music increases until it drowns out the narrator’s voice. Ultimately Jesus, weighed down by people’s lamentations, stops dancing, and is crushed to the ground. The music stops. All masked figures look at the broken puppet in silence…”
“The narrator sets up the scene for insight. We listen to the song “Christ Has No Body Now But Ours”. One by one the masked figures lower their masks. Several from the crowd, plus the Disciples and some of the animals approach Jesus and make a semi circle around his body facing outward. They join hands while others nearby place their hands on their shoulders. All are connected as the music ends. The huge night puppet, having lain on the floor at the front of the church, suddenly shrouds us in darkness. With musical emphasis the night passes over our heads while Jesus, Cyril Paul, sings “Be Not Afraid.” …
“The light returns…”
After a pause, the narrator says,
“Go in peace…and be not afraid.”
EASTER SUNDAY REDUX
“Easter Sunday, glorious Easter Sunday is here. “Jesus has Risen” echoes as the music starts playing “Lord of the Dance.” Father Jim calls our attention to the banner in the back of the church, over the door, stating “We are the Hands….of Jesus.” At that moment Jesus and the animals enter dancing around the room. This time there was an additional animal, a rabbit! They dance until the song finishes and then they exit…”
“The rest of the Mass centered on Farmer Rick Klehr and his baby animals. We celebrated a New Life. It was a befitting end of our Lenten journey. What a glorious season…”
IN THE HEART OF THE BEAST
In the Heart of the Beast is an puppet and mask theatre located in Minneapolis. The company was approached by members of St. Joan of Arc concerning training and construction in the ancient art of mask making in their preparation for the above production within both the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday liturgical celebrations.
Each spring HOTB creates and wholly produces the May Day Parade and Festival in Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis. This years parade and festival were entitled, “A New Bridge, Infrastructure for the Future Beings.” Tens of Thousands join together following the parade and witness the raising of the “Tree of Life”…
IT WAS NIGHT.
To View the video, click here.