Mass during Covid times: ushers / seating / and masks; a frustration and a commendation!
Frustration: folks often insist in sitting in a particular seat, and ignore instructions of ushers.
Scenario: usher asks you to sit in a pew that is not your preferred pew, and you ‘politely decline.’ Or the usher seats you in one pew, and as soon as the usher goes back to the door you move to wherever you want. This has led to multiple instances of our being unable to seat larger families and they have to go to the PLC or watch the Mass on Facebook in their car.
I understand the desire to be seated in the same pew and the psychology of prayer, that routine helps. But this is not the time for that. I am not exaggerating to say that families have been unable to get into Mass and receive Holy Communion because people had to sit in a specific pew. It is an injustice and sin against charity to insist that ‘my preference for a particular seat is more important than another families’ ability to get into the church and participate more fully in the celebration of Mass.’ During Mass, from the priests chair, I have often seen families turned away at the door when there would be space if folks were more cooperative.
If you react to the manner in which the usher is asking, ok…. forgive other’s trespasses (the ‘rude’ tone) as yours (‘ignoring’ the ushers instructions) are forgiven. There are pews and single chairs spaced around the church so that we can get the maximum number of families and people into the church. It is not a perfect system, and ushers are doing their best. When a single person or couple sit in a ‘less desirable’ spot, they are likely allowing more people to come to Mass and receive Holy Communion.
And yes, families, could you come to Mass together as much as possible? I have seen members of a single family coming to three or more separate Masses. What would have taken up one end of a pew at a single Mass is now taking up the same at three Masses. I understand that it is not always possible, but we can help to enable more folks to receive Holy Communion.
Commendation: just today, I had a conversation with an elderly parishioner who is still afraid to come back to Mass but is starving for Holy Communion. Because of your cooperation in wearing masks, I was able to tell her that she will be able to have a seat and folks around her will have masks on. She was visibly moved and so excited at the prospect of coming back to receive Holy Communion!
And yes, that conversation has been happening frequently recently!
Have a blessed day!
pax et bonum,
Fr. John Mosimann