Can the priest sit in the pews with the congregation?

Last Sunday at my parish, a deacon read the Gospel and also said the homily. During this time, the priest who was celebrating the Mass came and sat in the front row of pews (well, he stood during the Gospel).

Should the priest be leaving the Sanctuary like that during Mass?

If a deacon is present he should read the Gospel (GIRM #59) and through his ordination has the faculty to preach (canon 764).

As for the movements of the priest celebrant:

  1. When they reach the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow…
  1. When the Entrance chant is concluded, the priest stands at the chair…
  1. The chair of the priest celebrant must signify his office of presiding over the gathering and of directing the prayer. Thus the best place for the chair is in a position facing the people at the head of the sanctuary…

So the Mass begins with the priest going into the sanctuary and to the presider’s chair. The rubrics make no mention of the celebrant moving except for defined purposes: reading the Gospel (if no deacon present), giving a homily, receiving the gifts, giving communion, etc.

I am unsure how a celebrant would justify moving from the presider’s chair to the pews. Even when the deacon is reading the Gospel and preaching, the celebrant is still presiding over the Mass and therefore common sense would seem to dictate that he remain in the presider’s chair.

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