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Saints Condemn Dances & Balls

We continue the publication of the very interesting and useful summary made by the monthly magazine Catolicismo of the moral principles regarding balls and dances in the pastoral letters of Cardinal Pedro Segura y Saenz, Archbishop of Seville. We remind our readers that the Cardinal is not speaking here about classical or folkloric dances.

Card. Segura y Saenz - Part II

The Saints and dances

St. Charles Borromeo says that the dance “is a circle whose center is the Devil and his cohorts constitute the circumference, since very rarely or almost never does one dance without sin.”

St. Frances de Sales, well-known for his goodness and suavity, states: “Because of the circumstances surrounding dances, it is so propitious to evil that souls run the greatest risks at them. Balls, dances and similar nighttime gatherings ordinarily attract the vices and sins of that region: complaints, envy, jeers and infatuations of heart. Just as the exercise of dance opens the pores of the body, so also it opens the pores of the heart. For this reason, if some serpent comes to inspire words of lust or flattery to be whispered in one’s ear, or if some lizard approaches darting impure and amorous looks, hearts are most disposed to let themselves be contaminated and polluted.”

St. Frances also counsels "Philothea" [a faithful soul]: “The doctors say that the best mushrooms have no value; I say the same to you about balls, the best are not absolutely good.”

Persons who judge dances as compatible with the life of Christian perfection should meditate often on the considerations of the Holy Doctor (Philothea or Introduction to the Devout Life, III, 32, 33).

In the life of the Holy Cure of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, one notes how strongly he condemns the dangerous diversion of dances. He said: “The dance is the means the Devil uses to destroy the innocence of at least three-quarters of our youth. How many girls - because of dances - lost their reputation, their Heaven and their God!”

St. Anthony Marie Claret, who in the pulpit and his writing fought hard to stop the balls in Spain, in his book The Basket of Moses affirmed, “The Devil invented balls for girls to be lost, and extended them throughout the world like an immense net in order to catch the young people and submit them to his tyrannical domination.”

He added, “The goddess Venus was the model of charms and the mother of carnal pleasures, and, for this reason, the pagan girls, in their idolatrous fanaticism, believed that the best way to honor the impure goddess was to offer before her altar every type of impure frivolity. … The truth is that dances are of pagan origin - and as for those practiced today - only the Devil could have invented them for the corruption of youth. In the first three centuries of our era, the persecutions and the opposition of the Church to all things that came from Paganism were obstacles against the use of the balls among the faithful. But after the fourth century, little by little they were introduced among Christians and immediately the Ecclesiastical Authority came to prohibit them.”

A means of ‘decent’ corruption

Fr. Felix de Sardá y Salvany in his great work Entertainment and Morals wrote, “In his eagerness to make the youth his, the Devil invented a multitude of nooses and ways to corrupt them: Impious magazines, obscene theater shows, the emotions of gambling, the impure tavern, the casino or the cabaret - which is no more than a tavern in which people wear clean shirts. There was not, thank God, a place for the systematic corruption of women. …

“What was lacking, therefore, was a ‘decent’ means of corruption. A means of corruption that would wipe modesty from the face, reserve from the gaze and purity from the heart - which are the most precious feminine qualities, the best adornments of the Christian damsel. This had to be done without staining the good name of the one to be seduced, without disturbing her conscience with remorse, without embarrassing her honest mother, but rather filling her with complacence and maternal pride. It was difficult to come up with an invention that could attain all these, at first glance, contradictions. Nonetheless, the Devil found one. It was the dance hall.”

Catolicismo, Campos, January 1952

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Posted December 12, 2009

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