I have heard about arguments over people feeling like they own a particular space at church for over thirty years. This argument exists in Protestant churches and apparently Catholic churches as well. It seems a person who has sat in same seat for sometime, feels they own it. Its even worse in small Protestant churches where sometimes because the church is poor, various families buy their own pew and Lord help anyone who they find sitting in it !
Well, being a “new Catholic” as I was referred to on the phone today, I suppose this argument goes on in the Catholic church as well.
I signed up for masses for my family back in January and have been waiting for the days to come. Today - finally, I was full of joy that my mother who has passed on, finally had her mass. Because I wanted to be as close to the altar as possible, I sat on the first row. I guess its silly but I wanted to feel closer to her by being as close to altar as possible. They also have cards for all the masses for those who have passed on, tied in two pick and blue bundles with a candle on a table on the altar for the entire month of November. Knowing my family’s names are in the stacks of cards is a comfort to me. The mass was beautiful. It was at 7:00 am and I doubt there were more than 20 people present. And its a very large church that easily seats 500 I would estimate.
Well, later that same day, I had a phone call from a lady who has put her claim on one of the front pews to the right of the section my husband and I sat for my mother’s mass. On my phone machine, she proceeded to tell me how being a “new Catholic”, I didn’t know but that the first pew was for the disabled or elderly (who BTW I have never seen attend the 7 AM mass) and how I should never sit there, etc., etc., Well of course I know that first row is normally for those people when church is full.
And I normally don’t sit at first pew but this church which holds about 500 people, is always nearly empty at the 7 am daily mass. In the year that I have been attending, I have NEVER seen any elderly or disabled person in first row. Have seen it at the vigil mass only. And if someone had come, there were other first row pews available - like the one that very caller ALWAYS sits in. She didn’t mention why* she* should be exempt from this rule or merits this special privilege - only that some people have attended 15 or 20 years and always sit in the same place and I should respect the other people. I was shocked to say the least when I finished listening to her phone message.
Tomorrow, my father’s mass is scheduled. She has take some of the joy out of it as there will be some tension in the air as I will be sitting in the first pew again and she will be across the aisle in the first pew as well.
What kind of Christian charity is this? No one “owns” their seat. First come first serve as I see it.