The church was full on Easter Sunday. Typically on a big holy day, such as Easter and Christmas, there are more customers than seats. It’s an occasion when you expect to see Christian charity at work, such as people sliding into the middle of the pews so that others could fill them up from both ends.
But no! Not at St. Angela’s this past Easter and I imagine it was the same at your church. The pew blockers were out in full strength, as usual. The early arrivals planted themselves on the outsides of the pews and dared people to make them move. In the pew in front of us, an elderly lady — she had to be in her eighties — held her ground on the outside until a younger woman shamed the older woman into moving just far enough to let her in. A vast expanse of the pew remained empty, unaccessible because of the pew blockers on both ends. A family of three or four could have fit in comfortably. It was as though the pew blockers had season tickets for the entire pew. Those with one game general admission tickets had to find something in the back. Before long it was standing room only in the back of the church while many open spaces up front remained unoccupied.
When I was young and churches were always packed on Sundays, it was expected that men on the edges stood up and offered their seats to ladies. Today I see women with babies forced to stand along the walls while people in the pews refuse to make room for them. Other times I have seen pew blockers make women with babies crawl over them to reach an inside seat. If I were an usher, I would seat women with crying babies and stinky diapers directly next to pew blockers.
Ushers must take charge at church on the big days and pastors should make announcements before Mass to move the hell over to the middle of the pew. Pass this along to your pastor.
That’s my sermon for today. Go in peace to seek justice for the pew blockers.