Wherein Fr. Z rants about Communion

Get rid of row by row Communion during Mass.

Not much of a rant there, come to think of it.  But the combox should be rich, if people will self-edit.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mike cliffson says:

    And if we had row by row confession before Mass?

  2. Clinton says:

    Mike Cliffson– game, set, and match.

  3. Phil_NL says:

    To be honest, how hard is it to make a decision for yourself? It’s not that you’re obliged to come forward!
    I believe this being an issue reflects poorly on us Catholics, for two reasons:
    1. we seem to be prone to judgement and/or gossip based on who presents him/herself. Quite frankly, whether someone comes forward should not interest the rest of the parish one bit – apparently it still does. (one advantage of big city parishes: people are less inclined to exhibit ludicrous levels of ‘social control’ *)
    2. It suggests we’re easily swayed by what other people think of us. That also suggest a level of spinal fortitude that is less than satisfactory.

    * To say nothing of the habit of having ushers guide the process, which – judging from earlier comments on this blog – is quite prevalent in the States. Now that’s even worse, it’s institutionalizing the bad habits of controlling other people. Europe does fine (or equally bad) without them.

    In all, I daresay the rant is about the symptom, not about the true problem.

    PS: @Mike Cliffson: LOL

  4. asperges says:

    It is the controlling element which irritates, plus the fact that often one is directed towards some EMHC instead of a priest or deacon. At this point I find my own route. In an average sized church, there is no need for the isle police (or EMHCs either…). In a very large basilica, some direction makes some sense, I suppose.

    Someone who is unable to present himself for Communion for whatever reason should not be pressurised to follow the lemmings or be singled out by default as all his bench is emptied. Continentals, who are less eager to be marshalled than Anglo-Saxons, take no notice at all and cope very well as has been mentioned above.

  5. RichardT says:

    A good start, Father. But as Phil says, this is a symptom of underlying problems, mainly a widespread habit of automatically taking communion without considering properly whether one is in a fit state to receive.

  6. jflare says:

    I regret I must disagree.
    I’ve attended Mass in both the US and in Europe. I admit you can make a case that we’re distracted from prayer by waiting for “my row” to take its turn. I might point out though, most churches I’ve attended tend to have long pews. If you’re anywhere near the middle, but most others in the pew wish to pray, you’re going to need to disturb lots of folks to get to the aisle.
    ..And, I found the Germans approach didn’t seem to have any particular rhyme or reason for which way they went up or why they went up when they did.
    I found these concerns every bit AS distracting as “waiting for my pew” to take it’s turn.

  7. Is this a specifically American thing? [It is certainly an American thing. I don’t know where else row by row Communion is the custom.]

  8. TNCath says:

    I do think that row-by-row Communion got its start after the Communion rail fell into disuse and is somewhat akin to the British queue, in order to provide order, efficiency, and crowd control, as opposed to the Italians, who approach the altar to receive Holy Communion in much the same fashion as they drive.

    That said, I do think the row-by-row method puts those not receiving on the spot and may even put pressure on those not disposed to receive Holy Communion to do so to avoid being embarrassed and needs to be stopped, as difficult as that might be to accomplish.

  9. Philangelus says:

    I was maybe eight or nine when my mother ranted at me about how she wanted the ushers to regulate the Communion line because it was like a huge free-for-all. There was no decorum about it. People would push other people out of the way to get to the front of the line. It was like opening the store entrance the morning of a Black Friday sale: people would just stampede to the front of our parish. And that little old lady who was unsteady on her cane…? Push her OUT of the way! That’s JESUS waiting at the altar, and the ones at the front of the line get the most graces! **sigh**

    Yes, it was a Brooklyn parish, but at the time, row-by-row Communion was the best resolution we had to the unruly behavior of the parishioners come Communion time.

    I understand why neither solution is perfect, and we don’t want people going forward for Communion because they feel pressured, but by the same token, there has to be a better way than everyone thundering forward like cattle.

  10. JP Borberg says:

    Isn’t row by row communion necessitated by pews? If a whole row didn’t go up at the same time they’d all be climbing over each other when the people in the middle wanted to go while the people at the ends were trying to pray.

    I usually frequent TLMs, both SSPX and diocesan, where there are always people who don’t go up for communion, and I don’t think anyone thinks too much of it. That being said, I find that at a TLM it’s clearer to everyone that Mass is sufficiently Mass even for those who don’t receive communion.

    So maybe it’s the NO that’s the problem. That being said, I don’t go to communion at most NO Masses I attend because I don’t want to cause a scene by kneeling, and no one’s bothered me about it. So maybe the problem is only that people think it’s a problem.

  11. Carolina Geo says:

    I think a big help would be a return to a three-hour Communion fast. That way fewer people would be going to Communion in the first place, and those who do go will have been preparing themselves ahead of time. Personally, as I have become more and more aware of my sinful nature, I have been going to Communion less and less – perhaps an average of once every three or four weeks, and typically right after going to Confession.

  12. Andrew says:

    A negative element, in my judgment, is the small size of the pew. Builders try to pack as many pews as possible into a given space. Go to a country, such as Slovakia, and see how spacious the pews are. They don’t need hinges on the kneelers and still, anyone can pass through even with people sitting in front of them. We on the other hand have tiny kneelers with hinges, no space, and a bench leaning backwards (another anomaly): ergo, the need for row by row.

  13. skull kid says:

    Self-guided row by row Communion is very common, you could say normative, in Ireland.

  14. AnAmericanMother says:

    Couple of observations-
    Row by row is not a result of removing the rail. Our former ECUSA parish had row by row, with ushers, and everybody (and I do mean everybody, because there was never any discussion of whether or not to receive) received kneeling at the rail. I can’t imagine the free for all that would have resulted without it.
    Our choir has a number of staff singers who are not Catholic (and some of us decide not to receive) and the pews in the choir loft are very tight. Everybody just files out and lets those receiving go by. Nobody thinks anything of it.

  15. disco says:

    Maybe im missing something. What is the alternative?

  16. Volanges says:

    We don’t have ‘directed’ row by row Communion, in that ushers are never involved. But if you look around you’ll see people standing at the end of their pew waiting for the pew ahead to empty before they step out into the line.

    I don’t see the problem and really don’t understand where this idea of being pressured to to receive comes from. In my parish many people don’t go to receive, for whatever reason, and nothing is made of it. We have several non-Catholics who accompany as spouse to Mass so they remain in the pew. If it’s a tight fit, the ones who are not going to receive step out, allow those who are going up to exit the pew and then they reenter the pew. It’s a pretty simple process that doesn’t require a PhD to figure out.

  17. ray from mn says:

    Can you imagine the number of Mortal Sins being committed around you each Sunday when everybody receives Holy Communion without having gone to Confession to confess previous Mortal Sins?

    Forget what the priest is doing or saying up on the altar. This is far and away the biggest liturgical abuse in the Church. What effect do you suppose that has on the holiness of parishes where that is the norm?

  18. hpirl says:

    Growing up in America, and currently living in Ireland, I believe the current ‘norm’ in America is much more reverent and dignified. In all of the churches in Ireland, the problem is either as simple as the ‘trip over everyone else in the row who isn’t going or doesn’t want to go up now’ or as bad as the ‘stampede of the not-so-patient communicants.’ And the cattle technique (vs. the organized row method) does not eliminate the use of extraordinary ministers. Aside from the difficulty of convincing people that they aren’t required to go to receive (which should be addressed in other ways rather than destroying decorum), the ‘American method’ works well.

  19. Eric says:

    No thank you.
    I’ll take order over disorder.

  20. jfk03 says:

    The solution to the problem is elimination of pews, which are a relatively modern innovation anyway. Let the faithful stand or kneel.

  21. jfk03 says:

    PS: I would like to add the following from the Wikipedia article on the pew:

    Churches were not commonly furnished with permanent pews before the Protestant Reformation. The rise of the sermon as a central act of Christian worship, especially in Protestantism, made the pew a standard item of church furniture.

  22. I remember in my young life in Ireland, whether in primary school or in the seminary I can’t recall, that row-by-row Communion was absolutely forbidden, because it puts undue pressure on individuals. However, I’ve never been able to locate a law or decree on the matter. When I first experienced it in the USA as a priest I was shocked. At one Sunday Mass in a parish where I was supplying the ushers started row-by-row for the Mass where Holy Communion was received under both kinds – there was no row-by-row at the other Masses. Without creating a scene I told the people to come up whenever they wanted to, not row-by-row. One of the ushers upbraided me afterwards, though he wasn’t impolite.

    Your own red-letter answer to the question of ‘Catholicofthule’ clarifies for me that this is an American thing and the comment by ‘disco’ indicates that row-by-row is the only system he knows. (That’s only an observation, ‘disco’, not in any way a criticism). So there must be many more like him.

    I think that row-by-row is very wrong.

  23. Southern Baron says:

    I understand the arguments against row-by-row Communion, particularly that less attention is drawn by anyone who does not go to receive; but in my experience of those places without it, I have been greeted with frowns when I try to join the group. People did not seem too happy that I wanted to exit my nearer-the-front pew at just the moment they were running up from the back. One option was to wait to go at the end, but then people around me were again frowning that I wanted to exit after they had gone and returned. So this would have to be coupled, in my opinion, with the understanding that, as there is no “line” as such, nobody can “cut” in line–if someone wishes to step into the aisle, allow it with no resentment, as then we’ve got a new problem.

  24. Devin says:

    My opinion I would like to offer is to remove the pews. Keep seating around the edges for those that need it. Everyone stands for the majority of the time except when prescribed to kneel. Most people do not need kneelers to kneel. Those that do can either use pads provided by the parish, bring their own cushion or stand respectively. Our Orthodox Brethern will often stand through an hour and a half to two hour services.

  25. Mike says:

    I think a little disorder is good at that moment, so there is no pressure on people to conform and just recieve when they should not. Saying people should be stronger doesn’t change the reality that, hey, sometimes we’re weak.

    The most horrible ushering moment for me occured in the south–a 60-something year old guy sporting a goatee and a cross hanging from his neck felt moved to give everyone a litte back massage as they went past him into the main aisle. I had to summon a lot of will-power not to utter something a character in a Flannery O’Connor short story would say!

  26. flyfree432 says:

    I have never been to a Mass, save the EF, that does not have row by row communion directed by priests. I wish it would end, but I don’t think that this is something laity can do anything about. It’s the job of our priests and bishops to lead.

  27. benedetta says:

    Without row by row and ushers standing guard to permit people to go when they say so, what occurs is not necessarily always chaos. In fact I have seen places, some quite crowded where without this imposed structure people reverently get up as moved to, not automatically and not really because dictated, and what happens where there is reverence is that people just spontaneously join the queue and if someone is coming out of a pew people permit others to go first. We should generally try without being totally conscious of others about letting others go first.

    I note the funny distinction between different drivers. I would go with the politeness one observes overwhelmingly while driving in Canada. Canadians may jump in and perhaps in some areas this is less so but compared with American drivers Canadians are very considerate of others and take responsibility for the roads in this way very nicely I have found.

    I have no idea about the old days but in recent times I have been in places where nothing is organized and I haven’t found what happens to be total chaos and in fact people have seemed to quietly sort things out without a lot of need for others to say when and where. In practice and in concept unfortunately the usher dictating when each row is allowed to go next has created a layer of distraction and dissipation, interferes in sacred time and process. It is unintentional of course but that is the effect. And it does of course make people very self conscious and thus interferes in decision about whether or not one is ready and desires to receive communion. People should receive communion frequently but the precondition is that frequently we should be in a state of grace frequently. Without a framework for examining conscience being provided in most places then we wind up presuming a great deal, taking a lot for granted, and exercising our will less and less in relationship with God and neighbor. If we adopt the secular overlay for conscience without question or clarification or in dialogue with the communion of the Church then we aren’t really fully living in that communion or in unity and have accepted another’s criteria for the well being of our soul and our community life.

    There are numerous sort of little things such as this which we may easily take for granted or not give a second thought which actually have concrete effects which we may not intend.

  28. Titus says:

    It does seem, as some people have observed, that row-by-row is somewhat natural with rows of pews. I haven’t been in a parish with ushers in some time, and things still progress pew by pew, in both forms. Not everyone receives, but the process is orderly.

    The only time I haven’t seen a row-by-row progression is in Mexico or at Masses said in the United States for Hispanic communities. That was not orderly, and one wonders after the experience whether St. Pius X’s reforms and teachings about the Eucharist were ever properly implemented in Latin America.

  29. Jbuntin says:

    The NO Mass I attended for the first 4 years of my Catholic life has usher directed row by row communion. The way the church ( multipurpose building) is set up, they have split it in two sections, front and back. If you happen to sit in the back half, you have to go to the back of the church to recieve. It takes about 6 to 8 ushers to accomplish this. There are 4 EMHCs handing out the Precious Body, and 6 handing out the Precious Blood, that makes a total of 9 EMHCs for a parish of less than 300 familys at one Mass. (To be fair, the Priest has 3 more Masses accross town to say after he leaves that parish and has to drive 15 miles each way. I still think It’s over kill on the EMHCs though.)

    The EF Mass I attend now for the past couple of years has around 15o to 200 per the Mass I attend, and people go row to row but not hearded by ushers. Some go and some don’t go, no one pays any attention. I can say that because I have had tthe opportunity to attend this Mass with confession always available before during and after Mass, I don’t have the desire to recieve when I have not gone to confession first. It really changed my whole outlook on communion.

    Okay, here is my point… If Confessions were offered more frequently as in the EF form, I think people would be concerned more about their own sins and not the guy they had to step over to get to the communion rail.

  30. bbmoe says:

    Pressure? I didn’t take communion for a year while I was in formation. I never felt any pressure, I just went up for the blessing. Although, at one large Saturday retreat, Mass was right before lunch. I sat at a table mostly with people I didn’t know and one sweet lady leaned forward and said, “I noticed that you didn’t take communion…” I thought this was a hilarious breech of etiquette- I mean, how could she see that I was blessed? For the record, I didn’t reply, “And I noticed you weren’t deep in post-communion prayer.” For more sensitive types, I suppose this would be some sort of social pressure.

    My church and many of the ones I’ve attended have odd configurations that as a practical matter, require ushers.

  31. contrarian says:

    My wife and I sit way in the back because we have a rambunctious tot. We usually go up separately so that our kid can stay in the pew and not cause havoc. Inevitably, I’ll start a second line myself, as people in rows ahead of me think they should go up too as I walk past them on my way up. It’s actually a wonderful way to unintentionally disrupt the row by row pattern without causing anarchy. Who knew?

    Shortly after I converted, my Lutheran pastor friend was curious to see what I was getting into, so he decided to check out his small town’s Catholic church on a late Sunday morning, just to see what it was like. He reported to me that he found it ironic that, while the folks at his own Lutheran church reverently received at the rail by the minister, over the Catholic church, “some random lady who didn’t know what she was doing was giving everyone the host while they were *standing*, in a line!” He went on to say he was worried I was joining a Church that clearly had no real belief in the real presence, even if they said they did.

    Since this a thread about communion lines, I’ll keep his depressingly ironic observations at that. Sigh.

  32. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I think the big problem is the narrowness of the pews combined with their length. Our pews are shorter than some I have seen and they can seat 12. It is impossible to walk through the pew with the kneeler down, particularly if you have a disability. Add to that the sheer size of most suburban parishes these days, places that seat 500-700 people in these very narrow pews.

    We have row by row and we kneel at the rail to be served by a priest, of which there are two, one on each side of the gate. Those who must stand receive at the rail or at the gate.

  33. MarylandBill says:

    Well, as someone who was an usher for over 20 years in my last parish (I started ushering when I was 17, filling in when they were short and by the time I left I had the weird distinction of being the most senior and the youngest usher at my regular mass), I think I might be able to offer some perspective. I understand and agree with the point about pressure being put on people to receive, though I think that there might be other ways to address that issue (I like the idea of the long pre-Communion fast… maybe even restore the fast of nothing after midnight the night before).

    Here are, what I see as, the advantages of row by row Communion, specifically when organized by the ushers.

    1. Less disruptive to prayers. I agree with the other posters that having 3 or 4 people from your pew go up at several different times (and returning at several different other times) is going to be more disruptive than everyone who is going to go, going all at once.

    2. More orderly. While order (in this case) is not an end in and of itself, it can help prevent opportunities for loss of charity if people feel like someone took their place in the communion line. I am of course assuming that most people will still be receiving weekly or at least monthly and as a result there will still be at least some line (Especially if we restrict the use of extraordinary ministers).

    3. This is the most important one in my opinion. In my old parish, we did have a pew designated for handicap parishioners and communion would be brought to those people. The problem was that a number of handicap or elderly parishioners would sit in other parts of the church (usually because they were sitting with their family). Row by row communion allowed the ushers to find those parishioners and ask if they desired communion to be brought to them.

  34. Thanks God we haven’t that in old Portugal! Well, I never saw it anyway. When we happily reach the time to go to have Our Lord in the Communion, I and my girls just go in a line, one after the other, all together, even if we are apart during Mass for lack of empty seats – yes, where I live churches are still full at Mass time.

  35. MJ says:

    ray from mn said,
    “Can you imagine the number of Mortal Sins being committed around you each Sunday when everybody receives Holy Communion without having gone to Confession to confess previous Mortal Sins?”

    What does this have to do with pews and going up for Communion “row by row”?

    I don’t have a problem with going up for Communion row by row. The parish I attend is large…we have probably well over 500 communicants each Sunday. Not going up row by row would be chaotic and very distracting.

    People need to be able to *not* go up if they are not properly disposed (haven’t kept the fast, aren’t in the State of Grace).

    Others need to *not* judge those who remain in the pews, because truly no one can guess the reasons why someone isn’t receiving and no one should try. That’s between them and God.

    It’s that simple.

  36. Patti Day says:

    I attended Catholic school, grades 1-8. It was mandatory to attend 9:00 Children’s Mass. Woe betide the child who did not attend. No telling sister I have to attend with my parents who go to the 11:00.

    The boys sat on the left, the girls on the right. Sisters directed the rows to go up one by one. We filed up and waited until that row was in place, knelt together, put our little faces in our hands after receiving, and rose together when the last one had received and returned to our pew. Meanwhile, the next pew was filing up and into place, all knelt, and so on. I have no idea if anyone stayed behind because if they did, Sister would see to it directly. There was little chance of being in a state of sin in those days, because Sister was looking out for any little soul who might be in trouble. Hate the regimentation if you want, but I’ll bet it helped more than it hurt.

    We seem to be judgmental about those who stay behind as well as those who go up frequently or always. We should look to our own soul, and go or remain behind as our conscience dictates. Get some spine. We’ll need it when they take the pews and kneelers out.

  37. Karen Russell says:

    Here in Nova Scotia, at least in those churches I’ve attended, the practice is self-regulated row-by-row (i.e. the ushers do not get involved.) It “works” fairly well, but I agree that it does put pressure on people to go who really shouldn’t–poorly catechized Catholics, uninformed visitors.

    I remember back before the practice of row-by-row was instituted, and that worked fine too. You went when you were ready–if you had an urgent commitment after Mass and were short of time you tried to go early; if you were “tight” on the one-hour fast you waited until the end of the line; people were generally respectful of each other and made room as needed, and staying behind in the pew was far less conspicuous. The churches on the whole haven’t changed in the interim–space between pews and kneelers and such were the same. Families would tend to go together; the situation where a pew would contain a sufficiently large and diverse population that “three or four” would all be going at different times might possibly happen occasionally at Christmas or Easter, but normally it would be at most one person.

    And I would love to see the three-hour fast brought back.

  38. APX says:


    Pressure? I didn’t take communion for a year while I was in formation. I never felt any pressure, I just went up for the blessing.

    Yes, but communion isn’t the time for people to go up for individual blessings. Furthermore, in order for a person to actually receive a blessing, they’d have to go to the priest for a blessing.

    Row by row is sort of a necessity to avoid disruption after, but I’d prefer no usher and the freedom to move to the priest’s line without feeling like a rebel and getting a stern look from the usher.

  39. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Several mentioned an underlying problem.

    I think that this is that priests don’t preach much or at all on how sinful we really are, how certain sins, such as having an abortion, pornography and such, are mortal sins, and we should NOT receive Jesus until we are truly sorry and have been absolved through confession. Even in the confessional they tell us we’re doing OK, that our sins we confess aren’t really sins…

    I read last night in City of God how we think too much of ourselves:
    “Look upon all thy works as insufficient, all thy sufferings as most insignificant, all thy thanksgivings as falling far short of what thou owest for such an exquisite blessing as that of possessing in the holy Church, Christ my divine Son, present in the holy Sacrament in order to enrich all the faithful. If thou hast not wherewith to show thy thanks for this and the other blessings which thou receivest, at least humiliate thyself to the dust and remain prostrate upon it; confess thyself unworthy in all the sincerity of heart.”

    We are a society that wants everyone to join us, be like us, to reassure our sinful ways and encourage us in our lack of self-confidence. Thus, I think even if we tried to get rid of the communion lines, people would still fall into a line.

  40. nola catholic says:

    Can someone please explain to me why we’re even talking about this? I have been to both EF and NO masses in America and in Germany, and France. I have also been to NO masses in Italy and England. In all instances, communion proceeded row by row, regardless of the mass (EF/NO) and regardless of the country.

    Additionally, I have never known row by row reception to prevent anyone from remaining seated. My father is not Catholic and has gone to mass with my family for the past 28 years. He has never gone up to receive communion. Further, I have seen plenty of people remain seated who did not wish to receive, and I have never felt pressure to get up and receive just because it was my row’s turn. If I did not wish to receive, I simply remained seated or kneeling.

    I think we all agree that there is a problem with people not in a proper state to receive actually receiving. However, this is not a result of row by row reception. This is a result of poor education about the conditions to receive (many think one can receive all the time no matter what) and about the consequences of receiving while in a state of grave sin. Education, lack of information, and lack of concern on the part of individuals is the cause of mass reception. Row by row is merely a widely used means of approaching for communion, not the reason why people who have no idea they shouldn’t receive still receive anyway.

  41. Geoffrey says:

    Okay, I guess I need to be educated. Being born long after Vatican II and having thus far only attended Mass in the USA, what is the alternative to “row by row” Communion? I’ve seen it done this way at Mass in the Extraordinary Form as well. At both forms, I’ve seen people remain in their pews. What’s the problem?

  42. BT says:

    ray in mn: I understand what you’re saying, but your suggestion about characterizing the presumed commonplace reception of Holy Communion in mortal sin as a liturgical abuse seems to confuse the distinction between the virtue of religion (which is a part of justice) and the virtue of charity. I think it would be better to restrict the term “liturgical abuse” to offenses specifically against the virtue of religion (which concerns the order of the right worship of God), rather than offenses specifically against charity (such as receiving Holy Communion while not in a state of grace, i.e., while without the virtue of charity). It is true that liturgical abuses are sinful, and even gravely sinful, but it is not true that every sin (even one committed during the liturgy) is a liturgical abuse.

    I say this because, for my part, I’ve found some emphasis on the distinction between religion and charity quite helpful. (Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange discusses this in a chapter of Three Ages of the Interior Life.) It’s helped me to both avoid presumption about those with very different opinions about liturgy and to therefore be all the more firm in adhering to the superiority of the Church’s traditional form of worship: I don’t make the mistake of thinking that differences in liturgical practice immediately and simply translate into differences in charity. Even if I do think that the more traditional forms of worship are also more conducive to supporting the development of the interior life, the primary reason for claiming the superiority of the traditional forms is that they more clearly express the character of the worship owed to and commanded by God.

  43. benedetta says:

    I suppose people talk about it because not not everyone likes the feeling of being organized or herded into going to communion. In places where it isn’t monitored people may tend to go somewhat row by row anyway out of habit and permitting others to go first but where it is not organized it doesn’t happen exactly that way. In other words, people don’t completely do the same whether there is an usher emptying row by row or not.

    I tend to notice what others are doing, say if someone goes or does not go, where it is not organized and monitored. I try not to notice but when all stand up and empty out row upon row it is hard to look elsewhere.

    I am not really very concerned with whether or not others are receiving in a state of grace but I certainly do think this is a matter that our pastors and Bishops need to be concerned with. If that is a concern then confessions may be offered before Mass.

    Perhaps needs attending to and where we need more of a strong male presence is at the altar serving and assuring against profanation and let people freely and by inward realization of the state of their soul assent to or be conscious of directing their heart and will toward their desire and their action, their intention and how they wish to be transformed through this action. It is sort of hard to be open to listening in prayer when one is conscious of and waits to be summoned to go next, whether one likes it or not the fact is that one’s thoughts are transferred to observing and waiting for a cue from another, noticing and observing what others may be doing, and less on one’s readiness and will and the communicating/communion.

  44. benedetta says:

    Sorry — typo– that is, I tend to notice/be aware of others less where it is unorganized/not monitored. When things are monitored by usher then it is difficult not to focus on what others are doing. When it is less organized one does not have to wait to be cued to stand or one can linger or decide not to go and have that moment of peace which is sacred and personal.

  45. bvb says:

    It may interest you to learn that Archbishop Chaput said the exact same thing (along with a longer fast) during his WYD catechesis in Madrid.

    And for those concerned about climbing over people’s legs, the reason it works in Europe (or, to be precise, in my short experience of Spain/France) is that there’s generally a lot more space between the kneeler (often wood, with no pad…) and the bench in front, so you can easily walk by in front of people.

  46. Carolina Geo says:

    “the reason it works in Europe (or, to be precise, in my short experience of Spain/France) is that there’s generally a lot more space between the kneeler (often wood, with no pad…) and the bench in front, so you can easily walk by in front of people.”

    bvb: Since so few people actually go to Mass anymore in Europe, they can put those pews far apart. That’s why it works there. Also people in Europe are generally a lot thinner than they are here in the states.

    (Said with tongue just slightly in cheek)

  47. Athelstan says:

    We have gone from an era in which few received communion due to excessive scrupulosity to one in which d**ned near everyone instinctively receives, thanks to poor (often Protestantized) catechesis, in part as reaction to the previous era. There must be a true medium between these excesses.

    So I don’t think row by row communion is the real problem here. Perhaps it contributes to it in a lesser way, at least by way of perception. Restoring altar rails, much stronger homiletics and catechesis on the need for regular confession, and a restoration of a longer fasting period – at least to three hours once again – would probably fix most of the problem. The current one hour fasting requirement is essentially a nullity, at least on Sundays, since it is almost impossible not to fulfill it unless you live across the street from the church. In the old days people could at least presume that a break of the fasting rule was a plausible reason why you might not be receiving. To put it another way, there is almost always a significant – but not excessive – percentage of people declining to receive communion in traditional parishes that I have attended, and it is hard to think that even a rigid row by row method would alter that reality in any significant way.

    But having said that, I also agree with others above that design of the pews in most churches contributes to a difficulty that abandoning row by row communion would present. Space the pews out more, please – don’t pack us in like sardines.

    But having said all that: If I were new pastor of a regular diocesan parish facing this problem of universal reception, I might well opt to eliminate row by row communion as part of a larger and much more aggressive program of better catechesis, restoration of the altar rails, urging of longer fast times, etc. It couldn’t hurt.

  48. MarieSiobhanGallagher says:

    My aggravation lies in the bureaucratic ushers who stand at each row and INSIST upon each person emptying the pew. I’ve even seen worshipers indicate that they are not going to Holy Communion and still the ushers were relentless. (Once stating, “It’s OK! You can go!! Are ushers now capable of absolution or suspending the fast?? I missed that memo…) There are so many reasons why a person may choose not to receive, so why even speculate? The row by row thing is easy for us to do ourselves, and I don’t really care if someone swoops in from behind me. I MISS THE COMMUNION RAIL!!!

  49. Bob says:

    In the forties when I made my First Communion and thereafter we children were all to attend the 0900 Mass and sit in a specific area by gender where the Nuns could watch over us. The Nuns sent us to communion row by row and the parishioners did likewise so this isn’t a new thing with VII. Today at my TLM Mass we are not directed to do so but still go row by row to the altar rail. I don’t understand the need for ushers to direct the traffic at the OF Mass, I find it somewhat insulting.

  50. Dr. Eric says:

    The answer is to get rid of those Protestant pews. Ever notice how the basilicas of Rome don’t have seats? The ancient custom is to stand throughout the Liturgy and to kneel (on the floor) when it is called for.

  51. contrarian says:

    Right on. I’ve had the same experience with ushers, and at a few different parishes. I really don’t think your experience is an anomaly…how frightening that is!

  52. amdg123 says:

    Please don’t get rid of pews! As a mother of seven, I can’t imagine keeping all the little ones in order without seating. Say what you will about my parenting, but two adults can only hold so many small children for an hour and half long EF Mass. Maybe the “discomfort” of being the only one in the pew to not go to Communion is a good chance for perfecting humility.

  53. BLB Oregon says:

    I don’t want to be uncharitable, but if you live in the 21st century and this is on your top-500 list of concerns, I don’t know how you sleep at night. Perhaps I’m just lucky, don’t have the experience of an usher that makes me feel like a herded bovine at the cattle call, and maybe that is why it never crossed my mind to concern myself about this.

    My husband isn’t Catholic, and while he tries to always sit on the “exit” end of the pew so he can let everybody by (so he doesn’t have to watch for the right time to get out and let everybody back in), he manages. His cousin, also a non-Catholic married to a Catholic, was so “judged” by his parish in this regard that someone unknowingly approached him and asked if he might be able to serve on the parish council! All anyone ever noticed was that he never missed Mass on Sunday and was always putting in volunteer hours outside of Mass. No one had ever noticed that he had never once received Holy Communion in their parish. So maybe that’s why I don’t assume that anyone even notices if I don’t go to communion, let alone makes a judgment about it.

  54. Catherine L. says:

    Ugh. I can’t stand the “pew Nazis,” as I call them. Fortunately, my parish doesn’t use them. The Church existed for centuries without people telling how the faithful to walk from point A to point B. Amazingly, they make it back to their pews without guides and without accidentally crashing into walls or wandering outside into traffic. (Well, maybe some of the “Judas shufflers” do, but that’s another story.)

    As usual, liberal ideas generate the opposite of their stated intents. Here we have another dumb “ministry” created in the name of “full participation” (a.k.a. “doing things”). Instead of recognizing the inherent dignity of all the faithful, the “pew Nazis” make it appear as if the faithful are either too stupid to figure out how to go to Communion (if they so choose), or would somehow burst into aisle riots without the trusty “ushers” (who are often women – yuck!) to provide their marching orders.

    The existence of these “pew Nazis” encourages both unworthy reception of the Eucharist and the continued illicit practice of pointless blessings in the Communion lines, which make these lines all the longer, therefore reinforcing the phony need for EMsHC in typical Mass settings. I’m completely convinced that “pew Nazis” are tied to the call for liturgical recognition for these blessings, which blur the lines between the ordained and the unordained ministers – often the heart of silly, liberal liturgical ideas.

  55. Captain Peabody says:

    I’m afraid I don’t see the alternative to row by row communion, especially where there are pews. Now, if there are ushers actively pressuring people into receiving who don’t want to, then that’s obviously bad; but merely “row by row communion” does not necessarily imply such pressure. People receiving when they shouldn’t seems to me more a matter of chatechesis than organization.

    In my OF parish, we have row by row communion, but it’s not organized by the ushers, who generally have their hands full helping the old and/or handicapped. Otherwise, simply the fact that there are lots of people receiving in a fairly small space means that most everyone moves row by row; it’s perfectly natural, and not something that can or should be forbidden.
    Before I was received into the Church, I attended Mass pretty much every Sunday for quite a while; during that time, I simply remained kneeling throughout the Eucharistic service, though sometimes I had to move out of the way or get out of my pew and go back around to let other people out; but I felt no unbearable pressure to receive then (besides a general longing to join the Church so I could receive). I knew I shouldn’t, so I didn’t.

    When I attended Mass in the Strasbourg Cathedral, the system was naturally fairly similar, though much more relaxed; the lack of pews and general superabundance of space (it’s a BIG place) meant that people took their time a little more and often remained in their seats longer to pray before receiving; and ditto for the smaller, daily Masses I attended in one of the side chapels. I have to say I appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere, but it’s something that I don’t think is really possible in a big suburban parish with pews, little space, and tighter Mass schedules.

    But if all you’re saying is that ushers shouldn’t regiment things and no one should be pressured to receive, then sure, that’s fine. But describing this as “row by row communion” seems a little overly broad to me. But obviously I’m not too experienced in this matter.

  56. pewpew says:

    Why do american parishes need ushers anyway? There are almost no ushers at all here in Europe.

  57. Tantum Ergo says:

    Head um’ up, Move um’ out!
    Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin…..

  58. catholictigerfan says:

    shzg I say there is a big mass of maybe 5 to 10 people a row like it seems to be in most of the Catholic Parishes in my Area where there are a couple hundred people at mass, so for People to get up at their own time and just go up doesn’t really work. The most efficent way is to do it row by row. But for a Mass that has a handful of people per row, maybe 1 through 5 then everyone gets up lines up and recieves commuion.

    For me if the GIRM doesn’t say anything about how the faithful should go up to recieve commion, then it should be done int he most reverent, and the best way that it can glorify God. I think it should be up to the individual Pastors of how to do it.

    Just my take.

  59. QMJ says:

    JP Borberg asked earlier: “Isn’t row by row communion necessitated by pews?” Not necessarily since they use pews in Italy and they definitely do not go row by row. But as was mentioned earlier there is more space between the pews. I really like this question though because it brings up another issue. Why pews? I say ditch’em.

  60. papaefidelis says:

    I’ll admit it: I do NOT receive holy communion from lay persons. It’s a matter of the legitimacy of the use of EMHC and the very word “extraordinary”. My parish is fortunate to have four priests living in the rectory and, insofar as there are fewer than 250 persons at Sunday Mass, I see no reason WHATSOEVER for there to be 8-12 EMHC used week after week, invading the sanctuary during the Agnus Dei like Stormtroopers! When I receive Holy Communion (and it is not an automatic thing for me but only when I am morally certain that I am in a state of grace and properly disposed mentally), I’ll “cross lines” to receive from a priest. Yet, in the parish that I am accursed to reside, ushers stand at the end of each row of pew “permitting” you to get in the cue. I’ve caused frustration for them and a few odd looks by excusing myself to cross to the “sacerdotal distribution cue”. It is sad that all this nonsense goes on and I pray daily for an end to the foolishness so that I may – someday – worship the Lord according to the Rites of the Church carried out according to the mind of the Church as laid out in the liturgical books and pertinent legislation. I also pray that Cardinal George retire soon and the new Archbishop of Chicago is a bishop on fire for the faith not a hapless CEO. “George the Enforcer”? Laughable!

  61. liebemama says:

    Here in the diocese of Münster, Germany we do “row by row” without ushers in the average Parish Church. In our Cathedral that is not the case, which I attribute to the use of the communion rail.

  62. benedetta says:

    BLBOregon, Actually this isn’t on my list of top 500 concerns as you call it nonetheless just shutting up about the need for the faithful to engage heart, mind and will at a sacred time is not really my idea of a good option. And, considering what is going on around me as you say in the 21st century, actually, I am getting by as far as sleeping at night. But it is not easy given what’s being handed to me.

    And given what’s going on actually I think it a very good thing to engage in clarification of thought to enable active participation so much as possible. If everything has been historically up for grabs for all sorts of lofty reasons about what early Christians did or did not do and making us more authentic and actively participating, then, why is now everything that was up for grabs suddenly off limits as being beneath us or small potatoes. It’s about the reason.

  63. benedetta says:

    You know BLBOregon if you really envision that all the Catholic parishes will suddenly change these things, overnight just by the collection of comments on Fr. Z’s blog, such that you must prevent people from commenting by mocking the very idea?

    Be that as it may though is it that nothing matters about liturgy and about reception of communion? If it doesn’t matter why would you resent people who do invest with meaning at that particular time in the liturgy. If you like ushers ushering you at that moment then you could merely say I like ushers…or whatever it may be without saying that others’ viewpoints lack validity. Since it is all relative?

  64. Luvadoxi says:

    I guess row-by-row has its advantages. But what really makes me see red and disturbs my readiness to receive Communion is when the usher puts his arm over my pew; this infuriates me for some reason–I feel like knocking his arm off. I feel trapped–seriously, this reminds me of unjust imprisonment….I don’t know why this upsets me so much, but it does.

  65. ndmom says:

    At Opus Dei oratories and schools, the custom is NOT to process row by row for the very reasons that commenters have pointed out. Which would be fine, except that most of us are conditioned to being orderly, and forcing oneself to be random is incredibly distracting to maintaining a prayerful attitude. It works OK in smaller oratories with mostly “regulars,” but it can be chaotic at retreats when the retreat leader forgets to remind newcomers of the custom. But IMO this is a trivial issue compared to the practice at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart of offering non-receivers the option of “receiving a blessing from a Communion Minister.”

  66. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr Sean,

    I also think that row-by-row is very wrong. It facilitates people going to Holy Communion who are not in a state of grace. It’s a typical American custom and there are lots of other ways of doing this is we would try to think about it. One of the problems is not the presence of the pews so much, but their length and placement in many churches. It’s almost as if those who furnished the building were trying to make us go up row-by-row, out of some mistaken idea of togetherness or order that really doesn’t exist.

    Also, if the real reason that we have row-by-row Holy Communion lines is that people couldn’t behave in free-form lines, I’m not shocked but I am dismayed as a convert. Acting up on your way to Holy Communion? Shame.

  67. Former Altar Boy says:

    Two issues seem to have developed from Father’s premise. One, to get ride of row-by-row communion and the other, to get rid of pews. Both are silly.

    The main reason put forward for getting rid of row-by-row communion is because someone unworthy might feel “pressured” to approach the altar for Holy Communion. If that is all it takes for someone to commit a mortal sin they have bigger problems than row-by-row communion.

    Until I finally fled the Novus Ordo some years ago, it seemed everyone went up for communion. I don’t think it had anything to do with the method people exited the pews or whether they felt any “pressure.” No, I think it was the general sense, common since Vat2, that there is no sin — just let your ill-formed conscience be your guide. Blame that on poor catechesis, not on wooden benches or ushers.

    1 Corinthians 14:33 – God is a God of peace and not (disharmony, confusion, disorder – pick your translation). What is the problem of people approaching the altar in an orderly fashion rather than those in a hurry to receive Communion and head for the parking lot from rushing up and trying to beat the people in the front pews from getting there first? Personally, I think an orderly, i.e., pew-by-pew, approach actually helps maintain reverence in the church.

    Now, as to the idea of getting rid of pews (and kneelers), I’d like to know the age of the proponents and actually watch them kneel on a bare floor from the Sanctus until Communion. I attend an all-Latin, all-all-the-time FSSP parish and while over half our sizeable parish is young families, we still have a number of elderly members. Some of them cannot stand for long, much less kneel for any length. What are they to do? So, they sit (in a pew!) during most of the Mass and no one seems to have a problem with it. Likewise, one mother commented above that having pews allows her to manage her young children. Just one practical argument is that pews are a handy place for worshippers to leave their missal, purse, cap, and other personal items, while they go up for communion.

  68. mirium2 says:

    You know, I have read almost all of the posts here and I didn’t run into one that mentioned prior to Vatican II Catholic school children went to Mass and communion row by row. When I went to Catholic school the sisters marched us over to the church on first Friday’s and holy days of obligation and daily for Lent, to hear Mass. We filed into the pews in lines directed by our homeroom teacher (who was a sister) and were expected to approach the communion rail in the same manner; that is row by row.
    This was done to keep order among grade school children as young as five years, but no usher was necessary, we knew that we were to proceed row by row so we did. When the last person in the row in front of you stepped out into the isle, the first person of the next row followed suit. It was not complicated we didn’t need guidance or direction. This custom followed us into high school.
    When attending Sunday Mass however, people approached the altar rail in a timely manner which suited them and the length of preparation they needed before receiving. I remember being startled and a bit taken back the first time I attended the NO Mass and was in a sense ordered to take communion when the usher saw fit.
    In pre-Vatican II days there was no problem with order and respect. If someone was stepping out of a pew as you approached you halted and allowed your fellow parishioner to step into the isle in front of you. There was no concern over having someone jump ahead of you. There were plenty of hosts; the priest wasn’t going to run out. So what’s the pressure?
    Of course all of this took place back in the ‘50’s and early ‘60’s when people were not drowning in their own egos but actually exercised personal and social respect and as a consequence reacted with courtesy toward others. There were no ‘traffic jams’ or ‘dirty looks’ people simply proceeded to the altar rail with courtesy and respect and most significantly, with reverence for Our Lord and the agony he endured to make this sublime experience possible for us.
    This certainly is the ‘age of the ego.’ We keep ‘discovering’ activities and attitudes which are healthy for us as families and spiritual beings. I just read an article claiming that a new study revealed that eating meals together was psychologically healthy for family members, particularly children. Ya think??? Who knew??? And now this situation comes down to the same thing . . . Respect, respect, respect and HUMILITY. I wish someone would hurry up and do a study on those two attributes so we can collectively benefit from their great discovery. Sheesh! This is really tiresome. When are people going to wake up? This isn’t rocket science.

  69. catholicmidwest says:


    I’m almost sure that’s where this sort of a practice must have come from, way back in the baby boomer years. I went to public school because I wasn’t Catholic then, and we had to stand in line to use the bathroom there were so many of us. Single-file, silently to avoid being smacked with a ruler which was legal then. We stood in long lines when recess ended to file in single-file, wordless, to our classes. We stood in long lines for lunches. We stood in long lines for buses. This was the 50s, and there were hordes of us. We got no personal attention to speak of, and we were herded like cattle. We were baby boomers.

    My point is that there is nothing distinctly Catholic about herding people around like this. Nothing. Herding people around in Holy Communion lines has nothing to do with the liturgy really. It’s an artifact, probably caused by local custom, habit, furniture choices and perhaps a bit of demagoguery by people who carry around some sort of ideological grudge of sorts. We need to snap out of this nonsense and act like adults in public.

  70. catholicmidwest says:

    Oh, and mirium2,
    There was plenty of evil around in the 50s, and many people were engaged in the same kinds of mischief similarly-minded people engage in now. People just didn’t talk about it then, and polite society chose not to look at the evil things that happened in private most of the time. Don’t kid yourself.

  71. Lynne says:

    Last week at Mass, the local Catholic HS’s football team was in the first several rows. I thought to myself, oh swell, they’ll all proceed up to receive Communion. Wonder of wonders, several of them did not go up. I was pleasantly surprised.

  72. Volanges says:

    I have just one question. In a parish like mine, where people naturally proceed row by row without the direction of ushers, how do you propose to end the practice?

    Father distributes the Hosts alone and everyone comes up the center aisle. He alternates between a person from the left side of the aisle and one from the right side. I have seen him have to wait for someone to be the first to get to him, because people are like Chip ‘n’ Dale: “After you.” “No, please, after you.” “No, I insist.”

  73. Mouse says:

    I don’t see a problem with row by row communion, inasmuch as it is better than random and chaotic approaches to the priest or altar rail. And there is nothing modest about crawling over people in the pew. As a female, I do not do this and men especially should realize this is immodest and move and let one out of the pew!

    What is problematic is the presumption that everyone will go up for communion. If you don’t intend to go to communion, you should sit strategically so as to make the least trouble for others, depending on how your church is set up. For example, in one church I go to, people in one half of the pew go tothe center, up to the priest, and the others half of the pew goes up another way to an Extraordinary Minister. So if you’re not going up, sitting dead center is helpful. But where the whole pew goes to the middle, or whatever, then you should sit on either end, where you can, if necessary, get out and let folks out, then get back in. Or if there’s room in the Church, sit in an empty or mostly empty pew!

    But you can always just get up and move out with others, then pop back in, or walk around and kind of behind the communion line, without taking communion. Or you can just go up for a blessing if you would be going up to a priest. (ALERT – Extraordinary Ministers should not be “blessing” people – that is for priests – so don’t go up to them for that! In some places they do that – it’s not right.) A little teaching can get the people accustomed to this – let folks know that they can come up to the priest for a blessing if they’re not receiving communion – and that makes it easier in my opinion.

    Anyway, even at the TLM there should be a order, and the TLM’s I go people go up politely row by row, with those who aren’t taking communion finding a way not to keep others from moving along.

    Did you ever read how fights would break out and people push and shove each other trying to get the rail first for communion from Padre Pio? Chaos doesn’t glorify God!

  74. Mouse says:

    PS – Maybe I’m wrong and blessings shouldn’t be given in communion line, even by priests? Another combox comment in another article suggested this – I don’t know…

  75. Luvadoxi says:

    One time I wasn’t going up for Communion, and I was sitting on the aisle, and an usher interrupted my prayer and gestured that I could go up. I had to shake my head no thanks–that was kind of embarrassing. :::sigh::::

    I don’t know what the answer is to having to interrupt others who are praying after I come back from receiving, though….if there aren’t orderly lines, and the pews aren’t wide enough, what are you supposed to do? Just wondering.

    I still dislike (bossy/well-meaning/actively participating) ushers, though.

  76. catholicmidwest says:

    People who’ve only been to Mass in the US may think this row-by-row business is the only way to do this. But in fact, the row-by-row thing isn’t prevalent anywhere else in the world that I’ve ever attended Mass. Americans are very regimented and stilted in this regard, and they often have an almost ideological belief in the regimented sort of order that goes with standing in strict little lines. It’s kind of obsessive if you want my opinion, and of course it doesn’t insure order; it only ensures compliance and an appearance of physical homogeneity which is very important in our culture. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the liturgy per se. It’s a cultural thing.

  77. catholicmidwest says:

    PS: We, meaning Americans, are also all caught up in the significance of body movements in general and particularly in worship, ie standing, kneeling, sitting, hands up, hands down, shaking hands-or not, looking here or there, waiting or going, ushering or leading, and so on. I also think that this gets lost in translation to other cultures, who don’t understand all the meaning we imbue in such things. It’s also lost on the Vatican, important members of whom think we’re all quite berserk on this topic. This is, I think, one of the reasons why Americans get all incensed about what’s going on the liturgy, and nothing is done about it in Rome; and conversely why some more progressive Americans get all stoked up about changes and symbols, and they turn out to be nothing and then they get bent out of shape having thought they saw something like the substance of their hopes which didn’t exist in reality.

    We live in a very visual culture because we spend a lot of time exposed to visual entertainment, and our culture forces us to be very, very shallow but fast thinkers. And as a culture, we have a tendency to fabricate a lot of touchy-feely stuff based on intention as expressed in body movement & innuendo. This is really the cause & substance of what we see in this “symbolic physical” stuff, whether we realize it or not. It truly has nothing to do with Catholic worship, and we have to get past this to dig into the real point of the liturgy. It can be very difficult for Americans because of all this, and because the average American really knows no history to speak of. So we don’t see what there is, and we make stuff up on the fly that isn’t there. It’s a cultural thing. Some of this played a huge part in the highjacking of Vatican II as well. There were other pieces to the story, but this was part of it.

  78. Brad says:

    Contrarian, hi brother. Regarding your Lutheran friend, wow. I understand his concern, but surely you thought at the time what I thought while reading your recounting: better to receive the Body, confected by a validly ordained priest, from an EMHC, standing, than to receive bread from a protestant “minister” in a protestant milieu?

    BLB Oregon, hi sister. Just a merest whiff of uncharity, but we forgive you. :-) May I recommend something to you? Even if communion-ushering has never bothered you, personally or in concept, ponder that over the years it has been responsible, the communicant’s personal responsibility taken of course into account, for, shall we say, ushering foolish or deluded, or weak, or faint souls into unworthily receiving when they know they shouldn’t or are wavering in those last nanoseconds, the valley of indecision time. Yes, by this custom souls have been assisted into receiving unworthily by their fellow souls; the former are responsible for themselves, yes, but the latter have committed something that made many saints quake in fear. That latter group I don’t mean to define by the men who personally act as ushers, but by all of us collectively who aid and abet our fellow man into receiving unworthily: “oh, you’re fine”. Since we are told to fear nothing in this world or of this world, even up to and including bodily destruction, but only to fear what kills the soul, I submit to you that the soul-harming act of unworthy reception is near or at the top of your list of 500 concerns.

    I’m sorry to have droned on!

  79. mirium2 says:

    Oh, and catholicmidwest:
    I sure am grateful to you for pointing out to me that there were unkind, unchristian and evil people in the 1950’s. How lost I would be without your enlightenment; that thought never crossed my mind.
    I am sorry you weren’t astute enough to comprehend my point. Perhaps I didn’t express myself well enough. Let’s take this slowly and simply.
    Fifty years ago people understood the concept of self-respect and humility more acutely than they do now. There was less blatant greed and self-centeredness; not to say there was none, but there was less and many times it was held in check (that is called self-control) for fear of loosing the respect of others. If people knew their ideas to be immoral or impolite, and often they did because they had been taught right from wrong, they chose not to act on the thought.
    This is not to say that there was no evil in the 1950’s, although it seems quite clear to you that I believe this to be true. I can well understand how you could miss my point after having read your posts. They are positively dripping with condescension and self-aggrandizement. Gee, we are all so fortunate to have you to tell us what we think and what we should think even though your missing the point altogether.
    If you are unable to discern the difference between the behavior of the general public in the 1950’s from now you are certainly “KIDDING YOURSELF.”

  80. Rosevean says:

    Space. At my parish here in the UK, each pew holds at least a dozen people, and there is not enough space to walk straight along it with the kneeler up when it is empty (ever watched a cat walk a board fence?). As I am not Catholic (yet :o)), I always sit at the end if I can, as I never go up, but there is absolutely no alternative to row-by row (btw often no ushers either). It’s entirely unrelated to habit, decorum or OF v. EF. I sometimes get looks, but I consider it to be nobody’s business except mine, God’s and Father’s. If anyone feels it necessary to quiz me I shall feel it necessary to ask them why, exactly, they need to comment :o)

  81. Brad says:

    “They are positively dripping with condescension and self-aggrandizement.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

  82. mirium2 says:

    To Brad: “Pot meet kettle.”
    I don’t think so. Pointing out the obvious flaws in an attack on me personally does not constitute what catholicmidwest expresses. He misses the obvious and then lectures me on the obvious, this is a way of saying we (me in particular) are all too stupid to come up with his pop-psychology interpretations on our culture. Perhaps we are all too smart.
    I am not condescending to anyone. I am simply saying as a civilization we were once more attuned and sensitive to the sensibilities of others and more humble about who and what we are. I suggest that we might want to revisit those attitudes. This should not interpret as my perceiving a couple of decades as home to perfect human beings, unless of course you are trying to condescend.
    An old liberal trick is to attack the person’s intellectual acumen by purposely misunderstanding what he/she has said. I am not receptive to being used as fodder for an insecure ego and when these maneuvers are used on me I call the person out on it. If you interpret this as condescension it is my prayer that you never have to defend yourself against such attacks. I accept true intellectual argument to my thoughts when they are genuine and expressed with respect, but this evil, manipulative, insincere, bunk is dishonest. I do not have to endure disrespect from anyone and will expose it for what it is at every opportunity. This is exactly why ‘political correctness’ survives, and we are all familiar with the author of that little gem.
    Those who tolerate evil help it to flourish. I wonder if you even read my original post.

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