Over time it is easy to forget or become complacent about things in our lives that once were of great importance and how we think about or are part of the parish community of faith is no exception. Our busyness, distractions and mood can all impact this. We are sharing articles over the next few weeks to answer some questions and raise awareness about how we all can share in a very intentional way in our celebration of Mass and faith together. Our second question is:
Seating – “Does it Matter Where I Sit?”
Why would it matter where people sit if there is room? What scares us about sitting in the centre of the pew? We come to Mass to praise and worship God, and to be present to Him in the celebration of the Holy Mass. So, our focus is on the altar, the Liturgy of the Word, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. So where we sit does have an impact on our ability to really focus on what is important.
Why do we sit where we sit?
There are so many reasons that people sit where they sit in church. Some people just feel more comfortable to simply come in each week and go to exactly the same pew and sit in exactly the same spot. There are also parishioners who come in and seek out others who they know and enjoy sitting near. Of course there are those who consider carefully where the most accommodating location is due to mobility issues, assistive devices, baby strollers or car seats, or just having young children who may need to leave at some point. Others look for a spot where they will have a good view of the altar, and some just like to feel they have their own space where they can pray and experience the Mass in relative solitude. There are also those parishioners who serve at the Mass in some capacity and so need to be able to leave the pews at different times.
Behaviours of Hospitality
We all know that no one “owns” the seats in the church. Sometimes it seems that there is a territorial flag in place, but if we truly reflect on our spirit of hospitality as it applies to the seating in the church, we know that the space is there to be shared. So how then can our behaviours demonstrate this hospitality? A few simple gestures can make all the difference: turning to make eye contact and smiling at someone as they come into your pew is a friendly welcome; if you are early, finding a seat up closer to the front, and moving to the center of the pew is considerate for those who arrive after you; being aware of others who may need assistance and helping them; participating in Holy Communion in a way that is gracious towards others and keeps the flow going in a reverent way. In these seemingly little things, we convey our attitude towards how we celebrate Mass as a community of faith, and our spirit of hospitality towards others. We all are called to be mindful of, and to offer our best Christian hospitality.
In the end, if we consider the outcome if we have prayerfully invited someone new to come to our church, and they were met with potential negative behaviours, how would that impact their decision to come back? If we see Jesus in everyone around us, and remember to try and bring Jesus to others, then we can open our hearts and the pews to welcome others to church.
-Parish Leadership Team