day 8 – back pew catholics

Back-pew Catholics aren’t worried about the responsibilities of liturgical ministries. They can arrive as Mass is about to begin, or sometime thereafter. And, they can sneak out before the final recessional or as soon as the last note is sung. Meanwhile the front-pews linger after in small groups around the organ or sacristy, sharing their common bond of inner circle intimacy. The staggered arrival and departure patterns mean that the paths of the front-pews and back-pews seldom cross.

There is anonymity in the back pews. When a front-pew Catholic is hurt, disillusioned, or angry and decides to leave, their absence is glaringly apparent. It is much easier to slip in, or slip out of parish life in the back pews. The back pews can also be a refuge for those who are taking the first, hesitant steps at entering or re-entering a parish community and want to do so without any fanfare.  There were many times when we sought the comfort of the back pews.

If you want to avoid sitting in the front, don’t arrive late into a crowded church – especially with teenagers in tow. Being ushered to the empty pew in front once mass has begun is a true walk of shame for them. We used it as a threat on Sunday mornings. Hurry up, or you’ll be sitting in the front!

2 thoughts on “day 8 – back pew catholics

  1. Ok I will admit that my parish Sacred Heart is different …in so many ways, the pews order being just one of them.
    At t our Masses there is often a struggle to find a seat in the front and the back pews are claimed by families with little ones so they can let them be the noisy little people they sometimes are without disturbing others. They also have quick access to the big open space at the back of the church if sitting still gets to be too much and legs need stretching. While it is true that some of the front row gallery is filled with ministers of the day , more often than not it just plain folks who get into and enjoy the liturgy.

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