In Honor of the Beast?


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, 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 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”…


To View the video, click here

113 thoughts on “In Honor of the Beast?”

  1. I am 65 and have been studying the life of Ste. Jeanne for 47 years. The parish is a disgrace to her name. One time in August 1429 she chased the camp followers of of the army encampment by whacking their butts with the flat of her sword. I wish she were back and could do the same here!

  2. What a disgrace to the holy litigury…Holy Thursday was not a party or play night. The priest and people allowing this and worse yet installing this in your minds should be excommunitated.

  3. I am so disgusted I cannot believe this. This is heresy and the disrespect taking place around the altar and the Holy Eucharist is cause for investigation alone.

  4. The expressions on the faces of the children say it all. The kids instinctively know something is wrong, that their parents and spiritual leaders have gone mad. The adults think they are entertaining their kiddies and the kiddies are creeped out by the entire production.

  5. Trying to understand what could be going on in their heads, apart from a basic hostility towards the Church…
    …these folks seem like suburbanites who desperately wish they were tribal…the romantic version of course…and think what they are doing is showing their oneness with all people…
    WELL, one can love stage art, parades, mummery etc.., but when one has to have that in Mass *where is has no business*, it shows one has grown to value that more than the Mass itself.
    I believe they would think it the worst thing in the world to “pollute” the rites of some Amazonian tribe with outside influence, but it’s clear they have no respect or a clear understanding of how the Mass, which they were born to as Catholics, is sacred and worthy of protection from distortion as the Ritual which trumps all else. They are detached, ironically, from their own tradition, and souvenir clutching tourists in someone else’s.

    There is also I think the mistaken idea that they are more “family” with people of cultures and tribes when they..maybe…kinda adopt some of their cultural and spiritual accidentals, masks, dancing… and make the Mass into what they think their rituals look like. Bizarre and shows no true understanding of God as Father of all. It’s like they really think the Church is a western aberration that cannot possibly be meant for all people unless it is simply adopts all rituals, and that the form of the Mass is entirely arbitrary. As if the ritual ways in which countless cultures throughout history have strained to approach some sense of God are superior to the Incarnation, and the gift of the Mass, the actual fulfillment of that aching in the human heart for God – that culture owns a person more than God when He comes to us…
    Something’s definitely off the rails here.

    1. Excellent points in your reply.. The spiritual significance of the mass is obscured and trivialized by such displays. A google search of heart of the beast reveals much in the way of discovering the spirit of the world opposed to the truth present within the mass. And with you, I’m at a loss to understand, much less explain, why any catholic parish could fall to such depths of spiritual blindness… A sign of the times I’m afraid. Let us pray.


  6. I found myself wondering…is this a Catholic mass or a black mass?
    There is something that feels demonic about this junk. I pray that the little children are led to a good pastor somewhere, someone who can provide an antidote to the poison they are being fed.

  7. I agree with the other comments I have just read. This is basically a sacrilege and I think the bishop of this diocese should be informed of what is going on in this church. This honestly looks like a mockery of the Holy Mass. NOT a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. I was hoping and hoping that maybe just MAYBE this was just a play put on in a gym or something and not and actual attempt to “celebrate” Holy Mass. My hopes were crushed when I realized this was supposed to be a celebration of Holy Mass and not just a play.

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