Tuesday, March 22, 2011

assigned seats

One evening, as the first Bible Study in a series concluded, Father looked at us and asked, "Now you do realize that you will be sitting in the same spots you are now, 10 weeks from now?"  He wasn't assigning us seats...just commenting on the tendency of Catholics (do others do this?) to stake out their claim on a seat and stay there.  He says that when he comes out of the confessional in the back of the church before weekday morning Mass, he can tell who is there just by which spaces are occupied. 

It's true.  For daily Mass, I sit in the "wing" on the right side.  Third row from the back (or fourth from the front)  on the left end of the pew...but never right on the end...I leave room for a friend.  R sits two rows in front of me.  Two older ladies sit right behind me.  One of them fixed the tag on my shirt the other day.  :-)  A man who's wife sometimes comes with him sits on the same row as R, but on the far right.  Etc.

But then Lent comes.  And you know what that means?  More people come.  Father said one of his regular daily Mass goers in another parish compared them to vultures or some such thing.  Sounds kind of uncharitable doesn't it?  Like maybe Daily Mass wasn't having it's full effect on her.  Those extra people... they aren't aware of the pre-existing seating charts.  

I am always glad to see extra people during Lent.  That's when I started going to Daily Mass, and I know that I discovered a great treasure there.  Confession:  I'm glad to see all the extra people EXCEPT the lady who sits in my spot.  She was there last Lent, too.  Just like a bird that's come back to the same tree to nest.  Oh yeah, I'm charitable, too, aren't I?  Some mornings I hurry to get out of the house sooner, so I can get there before her.  God probably looks at me and says, "Really, Karen?  I call you to be child-like.  Not childish."

So here's the deal.  I'm giving up my assigned seat for Lent.  Even if I get there first.  Maybe God wants me to see things from a different view point.  Or maybe He just wants to nudge me out of my comfort zone in the third pew from the back.   Maybe there is still room for Daily Mass to have it's "full effect" on me.  "Fertile ground for redemption", I am. 

UPDATE on the house:  Not only was Saturday St. Joseph's feast day, but he is the patron saint of house-hunters, my younger child informed me.  However, things have not worked out thus far.  We can not close as quickly as they would like - and another offer that was submitted after ours was accepted.  So for now, dear hubby has chosen to withdraw our offer.  I'm still praying though.  Trusting that God knows what is best and knowing that he has reasons for what he does, but persevering.  St. Joseph...


  1. This made me laugh! I always sit in the same spot...the pew where a nun sits. Since Lent I have had to sit 3 rows or so behind her and it has bugged me. I will now be a more charitable about it! This was a great post! So well written!

  2. You're sooo right about the seats! I have a certain seat every Sunday morning, and everybody sits in the same spot for Daily Mass (when I'm able to go). We're definitely creatures of habit!

  3. Ha! I am so guilty of this, too! This reminds of a story my (now deceased) aunt told me once years ago, that actually happened to her: She was praying before Sunday mass when someone GRABBED her arm and yanked her out of the pew saying, "You are sitting my MY seat!"

  4. When more/unfamiliar people come for Lent/Easter/Christmas, that's the chance tocome up after Mass and say, "Hey I bet you don't me from Adam, I'm X; what's your name? Are you new in the parish? Do you usually go to another Mass? Etc, etc.

    Honest to God, I meet people that way all the time.

  5. Good idea for a post.

    I can't believe Carol's story. Sorry but I just can't.

    I would not sit in the same seat each Sunday but I let my kids pick and they really have a preference. At daily Mass I sit wherever I feel like, though mostly towards the back.

    When visiting other, small, non-Catholic churches, I take my seat as late as possible just before the service starts to give the "regulars" a chance to take their seats. But, still people drift in, you know. They're around, chitchatting. Anyway, one person did greet me once during the service and inform me - very sweetly but still - that I was in their seat. But that it was ok. I guess I was supposed to be flattered that they gave up their seat for me! So, you can't be too careful!

  6. Excellent post. My husband and I sit somewhere in the third pew, we don't care where. It's because his hearing is bad and also, the fewer people in front of us the fewer distractions at Mass - especially where little kids are concerned. They can be so cute. Sometimes the pew we like is filled up so we just find another empty space. It doesn't bother us. Nobody has ever complained that we are in their spot. I really like kkolwitz's introducing himself and meeting people. It's a great idea.