Catholic FAQ


Latest Threads
newest posts



Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Liturgy and Sacraments
 

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, the largest Catholic Community on the Web.

Here you can join over 400,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic. Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.

To gain full access, you must register for a FREE account. Registered members are able to:
  • Submit questions about the faith to experts from Catholic Answers
  • Participate in all forum discussions
  • Communicate privately with Catholics from around the world
  • Plus join a prayer group, read with the Book Club, and much more.
Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free. So join our community today!

Have a question about registration or your account log-in? Just contact our Support Hotline.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search Thread Display
  #1  
Old Jan 24, '06, 9:11 pm
ChemicalBean ChemicalBean is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: July 13, 2004
Posts: 509
Religion: Catholic
Default Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

This question came across my mind once when I was at a gender communication seminar. If I knew more about the subject, I would think the topic would be interesting material for an honors paper or something. I would like your thoughts on this. Moderators, please edit for nonconstructive, inflammatory postings about masculization or feminization of the church.

Is the seating arrangement of a worship space linked to gender communication preferences?

A little background on this:

We were told that, generally, men prefer to communicate with each other while positioned side-by-side, staring at a common object or with a collective blank stare. Hence, the traditional theater-style arrangement of classrooms (with everyone in rows facing front) is prevalent because for much of history, it was only men who went to school. Guys, think of the best conversations you've ever had. Were you on the couch watching TV? At the computer? Fishing off the side of a boat? In the bar, up at the counter? I can say that the best conversations I have with my dad are when we're in the car driving somewhere, facing the road.

We were also told that, generally, women prefer to communicate face-to-face or in circles. Women tend to sit across from each other (or at least at angles) at the table. Also as an engineering student, in the few liberal-arts classes I've taken (which tend to be dominated by women), we usually turn the furniture into a big oval to face each other and discuss the course. Although it seems natural for what we end up doing, it makes more than a few guys noticeably uncomfortable, possibly because it is not rank-and-file, pecking-ordered, and hierarchical.

Then my thoughts turned to the design of church buildings. Most older churches are arranged such that the pews are in straight rows and everyone faces the same direction (up front and center), in what would correspond to a male-preference style. Those were more likely built during a time when the Church was extremely patriarchal.

Newer churches and remodeled churches are more likely to have elements of a "church in the round", where seating is either 360 degrees around the altar, or at least angled in an arc to give that feel. I wondered if this was done subconsciously because their (re)construction was during a time when greater participation of the lay faithful in the liturgy, particularly women, was encouraged.

Finally, I considered the "traditional" arrangement of monastic worship spaces, with side-by-side choir stalls that oppose each other. I wondered if this was (again) an unintentional combination of these gender preferences, which would make sense because Christian cenobitic monasticism for both women and men sprung up hand-in-hand.
__________________
You can accomplish more with a kind word and a shillelagh than you can with just a kind word.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old Jan 24, '06, 10:37 pm
SMHW's Avatar
SMHW SMHW is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 30, 2004
Posts: 6,130
Religion: Roman Rite Catholic
Send a message via MSN to SMHW
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

Interesting idea. It kind of makes sense about the tradional side by side seating and the round seating.

As for antiphonal seating (choir stalls facing each other)... That makes sense musically so I don't know if there is anything gender related there.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old Jan 25, '06, 6:34 am
Brendan's Avatar
Brendan Brendan is offline
Forum Master
 
Join Date: May 19, 2004
Posts: 13,146
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

BTW, it's a "Nave" not a "Worship Space"

All of Creation is a "Worship Space", the part where the people sit in Church is a "Nave"
__________________
Brendan
________________________________________ _______
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old Jan 25, '06, 7:07 am
Chatter163's Avatar
Chatter163 Chatter163 is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2005
Posts: 3,330
Religion: Roman Catholic
Thumbs up Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

Quote:
BTW, it's a "Nave" not a "Worship Space"

All of Creation is a "Worship Space", the part where the people sit in Church is a "Nave"
LOL! I, too, abhor that term.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old Jan 25, '06, 9:07 am
ChemicalBean ChemicalBean is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: July 13, 2004
Posts: 509
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

Sorry peeps, I didn't know the term "worship space" was to be abhorred. Let's just use whatever makes sense. A lot of times there isn't a clear distinction between a narthex, nave, chancel, sanctuary, choir, etc. within a church.
__________________
You can accomplish more with a kind word and a shillelagh than you can with just a kind word.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old Jan 25, '06, 9:27 am
grotto grotto is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: March 22, 2005
Posts: 986
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

If you are talking about how the pews are arranged in church, I absolutely do not see any "gender preferance" at all. Pews do not have a gender! Right?
__________________
"What amazed Edward Winslow during the summer of 1622 was how "reasonable men will be led to reason against their own safety." MAYFLOWER by Nathaniel Philbrick
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old Jan 25, '06, 9:34 am
mercygate mercygate is offline
Forum Elder
Forum Supporter
 
Join Date: June 21, 2004
Posts: 15,423
Religion: Catholic via Canterbury
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

Pews are a late addition to church furnishings. I would think the arrangement of pews, facing forward, reflects the way people stood before pews were introduced. If you go to an Orthodox church that does not have pews, people may wander in and out, but they generally face the only important thing in the "worship space" -- the iconostasis and the altar.

For Catholics this is a no brainer. We're not there to relate to one another, we are there to be formed by the Body of Christ into the Body of Christ. The interpersonal communication is what happens when we are not offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Think of it: if we are really a priestly people, all of us offering the Mass together according to our particular priesthood, then our "business" is to do THAT, not to communicate with our neighbor.

I know. I'm a dinosaur (and proud of it).
__________________
There are countless millions of Christians who will not accept anything, even Christ, from the Catholic Church. (Frank Sheed)
Tiber Swim Team - Class of 01
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old Jan 25, '06, 10:12 am
Jamie Burns Jamie Burns is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: June 14, 2004
Posts: 119
Religion: Roman Catholic
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

Or might the 20th century post-conciliar trend towards "in the round" seating be more about bringing the back rows closer to the sanctuary? So everyone can see and hear better?

I actually think that the 21st Century trend in the US is back to basilica style. I'm thinking of Mary Queen of the Universe in Orlando, Mother Angelica's church in Hanceville, and the new church in Grand Junction CO.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old Jan 25, '06, 10:24 am
a_cermak a_cermak is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: January 11, 2006
Posts: 1,326
Religion: Jewish
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

This topic brings me back memories of my days at Loyola and Maddonna della Strada. They were constantly re-arranging the chairs (no pews) to try to a. deal with the dead sound spots and b. encourage both community and worship as well as emphasize the different parts of the liturgy (Word and Eucharist). You never knew what you'd find in Church on any given Sunday. Plus they were remodeling so if you came for adoration, it could be a bit hard to find Jesus as the tabernacle got moved around a lot during this process.

Eventually I started going to mass in the "chapel" at one of the dorms. This space had 1 chair (for the priest) and the rest of us sat on the floor wherever there was room. Furnishings consisted of a crucifix on the wall and the portable altar brought by the priest. Musical accompaniement was provided by the priest's mandolin--I'll Fly Away, I Saw the Light, Jesus Met the Woman at the Well, etc. These were incredibly spirit-filled masses. And they were popular.

Pax,
Amy
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old Jan 25, '06, 10:36 am
SMHW's Avatar
SMHW SMHW is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 30, 2004
Posts: 6,130
Religion: Roman Rite Catholic
Send a message via MSN to SMHW
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brendan
BTW, it's a "Nave" not a "Worship Space"

All of Creation is a "Worship Space", the part where the people sit in Church is a "Nave"

I'd almost be willing to bet that it says, "Worship Space" on the conceptual drawings of most modern churches-in-the-round...
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old Jan 25, '06, 11:02 am
TOME TOME is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: May 31, 2005
Posts: 831
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

The in around style is a very consciencious choice. I think some have already pointed that out already.

I think it s important that we remember that the architecture of a church often reflects the eclesiology of the time or simple necessity that grows into a theological understanding. For example, we are all familiar with the basicilica style. The was patterened originally on the typical governmental building (city hall if you would) found throughout the Roman Empire. With the mass conversions to Christianity during the time of Constitine, the only buildings large enough to accomodate the growing numbers of worshipers. The fact that these building were already built in the shape of the cross added to its popularity.

Think of the two dominant styles of the Gothic era. Both the Romanesque and Northern European or French style reflected a particular emphasis of Church. The Roman style was a solid block style which reflected the stability of the Church, the Church is the solid never changing institution. Yet the Gothic Style of Northern Europe reflected the transendence of the Church that points to our ultimate goal heaven. The style is verticle and the emotion that they are suppose to produce is the church being a portal or vestibule to heaven.

With Vatican II there was a growing understanding of the role of all baptize in the celebration of the liturgical life of the Church. There is an equality of all the baptized - we all share in Christ's priesthood. This is the reasoning behind the style often found today, namely being the goal is to build a church where all are quidistence to the alter while maintaining a definiate seperation of the alter area inorder to differentiate the ministerial activity within the mass itself. In the pre Vatican II days, the emphasis was that we are all one in our worship however if you think about it the architecture of the church reflected the emphesis of the Sacrifical nature of the Mass and how we are all drawn to this Sacrifice. The Priest is the mediator through which Christ is made present and this ministry sets the priest off from the rest of the community's roll, that through his ordination and the activities on the alter, the sanctuary was to be united but distinctly seperated thus alter rails etc.

So after this long winded replay, Churchs' architecture does reflect the theological understanding of the Church and Her Liturgy at the particular time.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old Jan 25, '06, 11:18 am
Holly3278's Avatar
Holly3278 Holly3278 is offline
Forum Elder
Prayer Warrior
 
Join Date: April 21, 2005
Posts: 20,365
Religion: Catholic
Send a message via AIM to Holly3278 Send a message via MSN to Holly3278 Send a message via Yahoo to Holly3278
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

I am a female and I personally hate the idea of the seats being arranged in a big circle. The semi-circle isn't such a bad idea but I still prefer the traditional style of a "nave".
__________________


"If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself." -- Saint Augustine of Hippo

"The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you'll be amazed at the results."
--St. Josemaria Escriva

“One day, through the Rosary and the Scapular, Our Lady will save the world.”
--Saint Dominic

"Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world."
--Blessed Pope Pius IX


Our Lady's 15 Promises to Those Who Pray the Rosary

Come, pray the Rosary

My Live Journal

Holly's Catholic Blog
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old Jan 25, '06, 12:11 pm
Brain Brain is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: June 10, 2004
Posts: 1,387
Religion: Latin Rite Catholic
Send a message via ICQ to Brain Send a message via AIM to Brain
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

its actually kind of odd. becuas ethe USCCB outlines in their document reagrding chruch design that all the components of a church in the round are not OK Stadium seating that is teired or slanted is frowned upon, and the documents seem to say semicircle is highly discouraged.
__________________
Two men please God--who serves Him with all his heart because he knows Him; who seeks Him with all his heart because he knows Him not.
--Nikita Ivanovich Panin
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old Jan 25, '06, 12:28 pm
Brendan's Avatar
Brendan Brendan is offline
Forum Master
 
Join Date: May 19, 2004
Posts: 13,146
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

Quote:
Originally Posted by TOME
In the pre Vatican II days, the emphasis was that we are all one in our worship however if you think about it the architecture of the church reflected the emphesis of the Sacrifical nature of the Mass and how we are all drawn to this Sacrifice. The Priest is the mediator through which Christ is made present and this ministry sets the priest off from the rest of the community's roll, that through his ordination and the activities on the alter, the sanctuary was to be united but distinctly seperated thus alter rails etc.
.

Surprisingly enought, that was precisely the understanding Vatican II as well.

That the roles of the Minsterial priesthood and Common Priesthood are seperate and distinct in character, degree and essence.

So the Vatican II understanding of the Ministerial Priesthood is pretty much the same as what you outlined there.

United, but distinctly seperate
__________________
Brendan
________________________________________ _______
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old Jan 25, '06, 12:53 pm
mosher's Avatar
mosher mosher is offline
Regular Member
 
Join Date: July 2, 2005
Posts: 2,511
Religion: Catholic
Send a message via AIM to mosher Send a message via Skype™ to mosher
Default Re: Seating Arrangement of Worship Space

I have always felt as TOME said that architecture has reflected the theology and ecclesiology of the day. However, I feel that there are two aspects to this issue.

a) Deliberate attempts to influence the faithful
b) Ignorance to the relevance of sacred space

I recall a church that was built here. This parish church was built with the idea of typical American functionality so that the building could double as a place for worship and classrooms and offices. In time as the parish grew the form of the church became more permanent and just now are they trying to correct some utilitarian errors in favor of proper sacred architecture. In the beginning of the inception of this church the pastor was very heterodox and in some ways had churches built specifically to not look catholic. As time went on the persons who chose to do later renovations had no knowledge of sacred architecture.

I do not want to fully discount the ideas of the OP because there may be some subtle tendency toward his ideas. However, it seems to me that in the initial experience of renovations post-Vatican II we find a rebellion against the hierarchical structure of the Church and and over emphasis on the inter-relation of the parishioners around us in the act of worship. This is in fact, I think, where a majority of of liturgical abuses from architecture to music to language all stem from since the time referenced. Church architecture seems to me to be another casualty of the battle for orthodoxy.
__________________
In SPND,

Br. Gabriel Thomas Mosher, OP

***Tolerance is the last virtue of a man with no convictions - GK Chesterton***
Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Catholic Answers Forums > Forums > Liturgy and Sacraments

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search Thread
Search Thread:

Advanced Search
Display

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Prayer Intentions

Most Active Groups
8346Meet and talk,talk talk
Last by: svid2
5088CAF Prayer Warriors Support Group
Last by: eschator83
4406Devotion to the Sorrowful Mother
Last by: DesertSister62
4037OCD/Scrupulosity Group
Last by: eschator83
3857SOLITUDE
Last by: beth40n2
3666Let's empty Purgatory
Last by: DesertSister62
3268Poems and Reflections
Last by: tonyg
3242Petitions Before the Blessed Sacrament
Last by: Amiciel
3218Catholic Vegetarians & Vegans
Last by: memphian
3085For seniors and shut- ins
Last by: flower lady



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 3:14 pm.

Home RSS Feeds - Home - Archive - Top

Copyright © 2004-2014, Catholic Answers.