When in a Church with no seats


#1

Much has been written in this forum about the proper posture people should assume when one is supposed to kneel in a church building with no kneelers.

I have never heard any discussion as to what people ought to do if there are no seats and it is a time of the Mass where sitting is the proper posture.

Should/must one stand? Is it possible to bring one’s own chair? Is it permitted to sit on the floor? (I have a hard time imagining most people would want to do so but…)

I’m sure we’ve all seen plenty of people standing in the narthex of the Church (for all kinds of reasons.) I have often seen ushers bring chairs to people who are out there because they have young children or because the Church is very crowded. But I am really wondering about church setups (say a historic church)? where there simply aren’t ANY furnishings provided.


#2

Do as the Byzantines: Stand unless you are infirm, there are always some places to sit in all Churches (sometimes they are along the Wall, as in Eastern Churches)


#3

It sounds like you are assuming that there may be an instance where, say, an OF Mass might be celebrated in an Eastern Catholic church.

That scenario is unlikely for a few reasons, including that many Eastern Catholic churches do in fact have pews.

Even so and irrespective, I would agree with Skeptic92’s advice, along the lines of “when in Rome”. I would add that the “location” is really the Rite or form of Mass being celebrated, more so than the physical structure in which the Mass or Liturgy is celebrated. There are appropriate liturgical postures in the rubrics for each.


#4

I have noticed quite a bit of difference in the way people approach church (even Eastern Churches) when there are chairs and kneelers as opposed to standing room only. I definately have a great love for the change that occurs when the chairs are removed. The clatter of kneelers is removed, the shuffle of chairs is gone, even the creaking of pews, all replaced with the amazing sound of the Liturgy.


#5

THis is a regular occurrance for us. Yes, we are looking into building a new church…

The people stand, and kneel when appropriate. If old/infirm, they remain standing.


#6

Hi! A church is said to be no seat when members just go without gaining spiritual up liftment.


#7

I remember we used to attend Mass in another town. The Church was always full, so there were people standing, and sometimes it was our turn to stay up during the whole hour. I remember I saw this woman who was standing, got dizzy and hit the ground, we heard her skull, her forehead, hit so hard the floor, and people near her helped her. And pews or no pews, people knelt. Also, where I live, Schoenstatt celebrates the Mass outdoors. And people kneel on rocks!

If I were you, just stand there the whole hour, make a little mortification. :slight_smile:


#8

I presume this is an academic question since I’d be rather surprised to find a church without any seating arrangements. And that includes most Eastern churches, whether in union with Rome or not. I suppose there are a few ancient churches that still adhere to the “open space” idea, but even those have some provision for the aged and infirm (usually against the walls). Now, if it’s not academic and there is an actual place, I’d be interested to know of it.

In any case, and while I can’t speak for Western custom in this regard, in former times (i.e. in the days before formal seating) it was the custom in the eastern Mediterranean for people to sit cross-legged on the floor. When the deacon would say “Let us stand” or something similar, people would stand. I would imagine the same was true in the Slavic areas of Eastern Europe, as well as in what is today Kerala in India, too. Of course, in the Eastern and Oriental tradition, there is traditionally little or no kneeling involved, but even if there were, it wouldn’t seem to make much difference. They would have knelt on the floor (just as people have to do today in quite a few neo-Catholic churches).


#9

Yes this was meant as an academic question. But I was specifically interested in Western Catholic Churches. (I have never been in a Western Catholic Church that did not have pews or chairs. But I have been in Churches that did not have enough seating.)

My interest was somewhat sparked by the concern people have when the faithful stand rather than kneel at the consecration, especially if they stand because their church has no kneelers.

I have never seen anybody express concern because someone who was off to the back or side of a crowded church was standing during the first or second reading.


#10

I can attest to the fact that at lest 1 (partial) one exists.

Our Catholic college Chapel only has a few pews at the back. If you’re not there early enough to get a pew, you get to sit on the floor (there are also no kneelers, yet (almost) everyone still kneels for the consecration. On the floor).

And that is the answer, if there are no chairs/pews you sit on the floor. Or if you’re in nobody’s way, you could always stand (like if you’re at the back or against a wall).


#11

Ahh right, you follow Customs of the particular Rite and church you are in.

Latin- I would stand for all but the Eucharistic Prayer, as the custom of the Latin church is to kneel (if its on the floor, offer it up!) for the consecration.

Byzantine- Stand throughout (Divine Liturgy can be long, expect numb and sore feet/legs), the particular custom of the Greek church is to stand for the anaphora

I am unsure about Coptics, Syriacs, etcetera


#12

Note that there is nothing inherent about kneeling.

Kneeling is used in east & west as a position of repentance. It is also used modernity in the west. A position of rspe t, while pre insult in the west, and to this day in the east, standings the position of respect. (in fact, early canons of the Church prohibit kneeling onSunday, but this is in reference the the position of repentance, not respect).

(kneeling came from the secular in the west, as it was adopted for kings--if due an earthly king, surely the King of Kings was due the same!)

hawk


#13

[quote="SMHW, post:9, topic:292190"]
Yes this was meant as an academic question. But I was specifically interested in Western Catholic Churches. (I have never been in a Western Catholic Church that did not have pews or chairs. But I have been in Churches that did not have enough seating.)

My interest was somewhat sparked by the concern people have when the faithful stand rather than kneel at the consecration, especially if they stand because their church has no kneelers.

I have never seen anybody express concern because someone who was off to the back or side of a crowded church was standing during the first or second reading.

[/quote]

If it is a Western Catholic Church, I would guess the expectation would be to sit on the floor if there are no seats and to kneel at the appropriate times, if able. Our parish has no kneelers yet everyone who is able kneels. The rubrics call for kneeling and sitting for certain parts of the Mass. The Eastern tradition notwithstanding, it does not seem likely that the Church would expect us to switch to Eastern postures at a Western Mass.

Now, if you are talking about overflow, people just make do however they can (and try to get to Mass earlier the next week. :D)


#14

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