Tuesday, November 08, 2011

smushed pew syndrome

This past Sunday we did not attend the TLM in Lewiston, but instead went to the NO Mass in Bangor. While Tim was heading up to pick up Will from his campout at Acadia, I took the remaining 5 children to the 10:30 service. I forgot that they had changed the time and arrived 20 minutes early and snagged one of the back pews. While the children behave better when sitting up front, I choose to sit in back so I can be sure to receive Communion from the priest and am able to "switch sides" to make that happen. But in the last 5 minutes before Mass began we first made room for an older lady on one side and then a couple squeezed in on the other side while I wasn't paying attention. Then Charlie announced he had to go potty and in the period of his absence the first woman scooted over to make room for 2 more people. So, what started out as spacious accommodations, turned into our large party of 6 being smushed into a space that could really only accommodate 3. As I was getting my tights snagged by the toddler's velcro shoes and listening to children complaining about being elbowed by their siblings, I uncharitably told them to elbow their adult neighbor instead. 

What were these people thinking? Why would you deliberately box in a family with lots of little children that need room to breathe and access to the aisle? All this relates to Father Z's blog post about obnoxious ushers and the comments by perfect parents with children who never utter a peep inside the sanctuary for fear of being beaten. I'll refrain from commenting there, but I wanted to share with the childless adults who attend Mass: you reap what you sow, if you smush my 2 and 5 year old children who just want a little room so they can color their Catholic coloring books you deserve the glares and elbows that will inevitably come your way. Yes, I will pray for you, but it will be likely, "Dear Lord, please induce this person to sit somewhere else next Sunday."    


Michelle said...

The comments over there are pretty interesting. I love the "I have no children, and I simply cannot tolerate the slightest bit of noise during Mass. It is everybody else's fault if I don't participate fully in the Holy Sacrifice because of their distractions. Mothers and their children should stay at home because my prayers are MORE worthy than theirs and I need those graces way more than they do." Perhaps I'm paraphrasing a bit? I love to remind people: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU! God (and the Church) command us to attend Mass. ALL of us. Yes, exceptions can be made, but I have yet to see an exception for ill-mannered children or parents of more than 2 or people who are easily distracted. Yes, prayerful participation is best, and parents should be mindful of how distracting their little ones can be (I occasionally have permitted toy cars and ALWAYS regretted it...they induce noise more than anything else), but sorry, folks, annoying as others may be, you have no right to demand that they commit a mortal sin just so you can have an hour or so of peace and quiet.

Anonymous said...

They are cluelessly! I once had a similar experience at mass on a holy day, when the church was not even crowded.

I deliberately sought out the last completely empty pew on the side aisle so I could more easily tend to my 3-year old daughter, removing her if need be. Early in the mass that became necessary, and while I was out of the pew, a late arrival sat there and my (equally clueless) nephew let her take the aisle seat of the pew (all the rows around us had at most one or two people in them--everyone, of course sitting on the aisle).

When I came back I quietly explained that she was in my seat and that I needed to be able to come and go with the 3-year old, suggesting that she move to the row in front or behind us. All she did was lean back in the pew so I could climb over her with my daughter in my arms. Since all of the other people around us all remained seated at the end of their respective rows, I finally directed my nephew to climb over the uncooperative lady and we left mass.