Aisle People


Because of my peripatetic lifestyle, I’ve attended Mass at many parishes. For the past 20 years, I’ve probably worshipped at 30 different Catholic churches across America each year for a total of about 600. One thing that each of these houses of worship have in common is the Aisle People (AP.)

The AP covet the seats at the end of the pew regardless of the emptiness within. I always arrive at Mass early and sit toward the rear, so I present my empirical data on the AP from a disinterested distance. The AP make up approximately 30 percent of attendees, and I am not sure they realize the angst they cause in other parishioners. 

Everyone who attends Mass weekly has no doubt noticed that late arrivals will “probe the line” looking for a charitable aisle person to allow them to enter the pew. It disgusts me to see how many AP stare straight ahead, ignoring the petitioner’s tacit plea to access the vacancies within. After being ignored, the late-comers must then clear their throat, which will compel the AP to take heed. This distracts other congregants.

Only once in all my years have I heard a priest remonstrate from the pulpit regarding this opportunistic practice of “aisle seat covetousness” (at Mass in Arkansas). He was instructing while I am lamenting. 

Hopefully, the AP act as they do unconscious of the aggravation they cause other attendees because if they are aware of the inconvenience and distraction they cause and still park their corpus segnes at the end of the pew week after week, well, I find that almost unforgivable.  

There are a few occasions when AP are justified in maintaining their spot: if the AP is manning the collection basket or, like my sister, is with a disabled child or is part of the altar crew or has urgent bladder problems.  

The irony of this situation is glaring: every Sunday the priest urges us to be charitable, loving, considerate, humble and Christ-like. When the AP hear the priest speak thusly, does it not register that their action (or inaction) exemplifies the antitheses of these elements of our faith?

George Ganssle



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I do not mean to offend you, but it will probably come off that way. You may not realize but the way you wrote makes you seem like you sit in the back and evaluate or even judge people coming to church. This is a real temptation to many of us church goers. I'm tempted to notice the people coming in late, very late, and people who dress inappropriately. I've noticed that my greatest benefit of participating in mass is to pass no judgement, to dismiss any distraction asap, and focus my attention exclusively on the liturgies, not strangers and neighbors. This is the year of mercy, and for me mercy means God is waiting with arms open to the wayward lost sheep. It is a matter of confessing and committing to amending ones ways. Such are not turned away. However we participate in mercy towards our neighbors too, by not judging them, but instead with understanding praying for them. Maybe George it's time to move up front where you wont see these APs.

Saturday, September 17, 2016
Staten Pilgrim

Best. Letter. Ever. So true! Unless you have rambunctious children, a medical issue or are on active duty in the emergency services, then you are a lazy, inconsiderate person to sit on the aisle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016