Please Sit

11-15-2020Pastor's LetterFr. John C. Granato

My Dear Friends,

I would like to use my bulletin letter this week to address an issue concerning our parish, more precisely, the celebration of Mass. Since public Masses resumed in July, I have noticed something happening at Mass, and I was not sure how to address it properly. I guess I was hoping that it would just stop. After a couple of months, though, I noticed that it did not stop. In fact, it has grown to include more people. Not knowing how to address it, and now that there are more people involved, I feel I must bring it to your attention with only respect and to certainly not single out anyone.

This matter concerns the gesture of people remaining standing after the opening prayer and waiting for me to be seated in the celebrant’s chair before they are seated. I’m not sure that I understand why people are doing this, but nowhere in my fourteen years of priesthood and my forty-five plus years of attending Mass have I ever seen this, except at a Mass celebrated by the bishop in his cathedral. I am not a bishop, thank God, and God help the Church if I ever become a bishop. If the reason is that some people feel that they need to show respect and reverence to the priest, I could appreciate that thought. However, it is not part of the rubrics and gestures that are proscribed for the celebration of Mass.

In fact, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Again, not knowing how to address this matter these past three months, I apologize for not addressing it sooner. In my humility, as a man who is called to serve, the attention given to me gives the perception that I want to be served instead. If a visitor who is attending Mass with us were to see this gesture, especially a large number of people, that visitor might think that I have encouraged this gesture, and the perception that I am encouraging a cult of personality. Even perhaps by my ignoring it, one could assume I accept this behavior however intended. That is not the case. Again, I am truly sorry that I did not address this three months ago to the individuals involved when I first noticed it, but I never expected it to grow at every Mass with other parishioners imitating this gesture.

Please, after the opening prayer, sit down in the pew. There is no need to wait until I sit before you do. It is uncomfortable, and it places an unworthy priest on a pedestal. Thank you for understanding.