Teaching Holy Mother Church How to Tango

I am taking a risk in sharing here some of my original thoughts.  I do so to encourage many of you who have writing skill (and I make no claim to such) to submit your work to me for posting.  If you feel so inspired, send it to my email address listed in the contacts.  Rosemary encouraged me to no end to post my stuff.  I miss her keen eye for editing.  I now rely on my sister to be my editor.  The piece listed below is more whimsical than thought-provoking.  I had a good time writing it……Reyanna

By Reyanna Rice, April 20, 2014

Over the last year, I have closely studied the actions of Papa Francesco, read as much of his writings as I could find and read the primary biographies written about him.  He admitted in his interview with the Jesuit journals last fall that he enjoyed and danced Tango as a young man, up until he entered the seminary.  Apparently, he continues to listen to this music as he works at his desk.  And I read reports that shortly after his installation ceremony as pope, he and a group of fellow Argentines, got together somewhere in the Vatican and had a Tango party.  What an intriguing visual filled with contrasts that sets up in my mind!!  Not knowing much about Tango, after I read the Jesuit interview, I started listening to this genre of music.  It is wonderful in its passionate, driving rhythms.  I find that I can’t help but want to move my feet and body to its rhythms.  That Francis continues to enjoy this music of his homeland shows it has a deep place in his spirit.  It shows a glimpse into Francis inner self, a man who probably has a passionate spirit and moves to deep rhythms filled with vibrant life. It seems almost, as I watch how he is going about trying to change the atrophied, stiff, and up-tight demeanor of Mater Ecclesia, it is like he is trying to teach her how to Tango.  I think he is trying to gently coax the church into dancing to a music, that at one period in her history, was condemned as “immoral dancing”, i.e. dirty dancing to us using modern lingo.  He is trying to show her, both in word and action, it is not immoral to dance to the delightful music of the “Tango” of Jesus.  In fact, I would say he thinks it is imperative that she does dance to this music.  Francis is gentle in his approach to the lady in question, as any gentleman would be.  Remember, we are the church, and he displayed this gentlemanliness to us when bowed and asked us for our blessing (our permission) as he stepped out onto the loggia in our first glimpses of introduction to him.  It will take skill to coax Mother Church into this dance. I see him displaying this skill as a patient teacher working with her, both in his examples and in his teachings.  He is attentive to her, listening to her cries of protest, yet remaining insistent that she can do it.  In the last many years she has displayed that she has “two left feet” many times in the actions and directions she has taken.  At times in her history she has displayed that she is more than capable to dance this kind of dance, Vatican II being the foremost example.  Recent years have been ones of increasingly stubborn refusal to take even the first step on the dance floor of current reality.  It will take some real skill to overcome this stubbornness in her.  Holy Mother has not been the most pleasant of gals in recent history.  In fact, it seems many think of her in very unflattering terms best not noted with any definiteness here.  Watching YouTube clips of Tango (or Milonga, Francis’ most favorite variation of Tango) it is very evident it takes skilled partners, moving in rhythm to the music in every increasing intricate steps and in close contact.  It is a very energetic and passionate way to dance.  Tango and Milonga come from the folk history of Argentina and greater South America.  It is the music of the people, probably the poor people.  They understand passion and the rhythms of life probably far better than any of us first world folk.  If he is indeed, responding to the spiritual Tango in his blood to get her to dance to his favorite music, it is an intriguing metaphor for the church he is setting up: passionate, caring, learning to step again in intimacy to the rhythm of Jesus, her original Lord of the Dance but maybe with some updated musical instrumentation and scores.  The modern Tango melodies I have been listening to are full throttle and very lively with very driving beats.  Can Holy Mother Church become an attractive partner in this dance?  We’ll find out!!  Jorge loves to Tango!

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8 Responses to Teaching Holy Mother Church How to Tango

  1. a beautiful piece, indeed! Life is a Cosmic Dance and we need to Hear the Music and Join in.

    Music strengthens the connection between our left and right brains ultimately leading to a resurgence of the right required for the survival of our species.

    Let’s Dance again as did our ancestors.

  2. Suzanne Straebel says:

    Your writing is delightful! What a perfect metaphor.

  3. Arline Schoenberger says:

    Love this Reyanna!!! What a great metaphor. Tango anyone?

  4. Marni Gillard says:

    REFRESHING. I loved your tone and I do hope you will keep writing. Early in my career as a storyteller I was working on a LONG story of the “dance partners” of my life. I couldn’t trim it or see what it was REALLY saying about life. A good coach asked, “Well, where’s the beginning?” I knew. An image of my parents dancing in our kitchen followed by tiny me dancing with my dad. “So where’s it end?” Hmmmm well that would be a fantasy of my husband FINALLY willing to dance with me at age 90 when we would be celebrated for our years of love and dance slow, having arthritis. Ha! But that image revealed the story was about RELATIONSHIP. In the version I recorded (not so long), it ends with me, age 13, dancing with my pastor, age 60, at 8th grade graduation. Someone played “Daddy’s Little Girl,” but my dad had died and I wanted to HIDE. (At the funeral the pastor had said to me, “If you EVER need a dad…” but I couldn’t imagine what that meant.) As I ran to hide the pastor elegantly stepped up to my parter and the “Father” I needed. I have not given up on this church because of that moment (and many others). Thank you for this metaphor which I will now associate with our Francis. MAY the tango rhythms and his love of the dance allow him to move with daring and with gentleness “lead” us into a feisty dance. Beautiful. Keep writing!

    • Reyanna Rice says:

      As I read your beautiful comment, my eyes filled with tears. You have a marvelous gift for writing. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I was never able to dance with my husband who died of cancer in September of 2012. I have the proverbial “two left feet” and a horrible sense of rhythm, even though I have sung for years as a cantor. As I was writing this piece, I kept feeling him nudging me saying “Well, why don’t you go take some tango lessons?” I think I will. I think both you and Francis are marvelous examples of your are never too old. I am amazed watching him and the energy he displays. I bet he could still get up and dance the Tango for real. Wouldn’t that be a site to see?

  5. Joyce Gadoua says:

    Your dancing metaphor is so apt. I absolutely love your piece. I might make one change, however. Holy Mother Church, whose members are the people of God, are just fine. The senses fidelium has always been fine if largely ignored in the past. It has been for ages the juridically, stiff, starchy hierarchy of bishops archbishops and titled cardinals who seem to move to the rhythm of a Sherman tank, who, with all their canon law degrees might as well have quoted an old Cole Porter tune of old, “I won’t dance, don’t ask me!”

    PS. Albany NY diocese has been, thankfully, a Vatican II diocese for 50 years and counting.

    • Reyanna Rice says:

      Thank you for commenting. I agree in part with what you say about the rigidity of the hierarchy, from bishop upwards and to some extent into the ranks of th priesthood, especially those ordained in the later years if JP2 and B16. But in a sense, I think Francis is also coaxing us in the laity to take a new look at how we live out our faith. I know for myself, I found that I was becoming quite entrenched in my thoughts in how to be church. He is calling us to something much different, especially in terms of a “poor church for the poor”. It will be interesting and exciting to see how this all turns out. I take Francis’ request to everyone he meets when he says ” Pray for me” seriuosly. I think he needs as many prayers as he can get, especially for a long and healthy life?

    • Arline Schoenberger says:

      Lucky you! Your comments about senses fidelium, the Sherman Tank & Cole Porter are right on the mark.

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