The second biggest “Creaster” feast of the year is coming and I can imagine the furor at the local parishes as they anticipate a crowd normally three to four times what they see on a weekly basis. The large screen TV’s, the metal chairs, the microphones and speakers, etc. are being set up in anticipation of the coming crowds. The local parish that I belong to usually takes in about $14,000 per week, thanks mainly to the generosity of 530 families that faithfully use their envelopes. These 530 families generate about 90% of the weekly collection dollars. However, the two big Masses each year that generate a sizeable increase in the amount of collection dollars are Christmas and Easter. The congregation swells to about 200% of normal attendance and the collection will run in the range of $50,000 to $60,000 dollars.
I had a thought the other day that might generate some discussion. What if seat assignments were sent home to the regular parishioners in advance of the major feasts? As the parishioners arrived for Mass they would enter the Church and take their seats in advance of the crowds in the parking lot where they normally would be forced to attend the Easter celebration. They would surrender their seat tickets to the ushers at the door. I think the first reaction is that of shock at the thought of giving preferential treatment to the faithful who support the parish. Why not?
For years, I have struggled with the issue of the Catholics that “come out of the woodwork” for these two feasts of the liturgical year. I welcome their attendance but I do object to the fact that my family must make concessions to accommodate them. I do not like to sit for any length of time on a metal chair and I do not like to hear Mass in a hallway or parking lot especially when the celebration is so important on these events. It may be a shock to the folks that attend Mass only twice a year. Some may say that it is un-Christian to do something like this; however, if I attended Mass only twice a year how could I ask for preferential treatment and seating?
My second thought was that, if you were given a seat assignment in advance, you would be required to attend the entire Mass. You would not be able to leave after communion or any time prior to the priest reaching the gathering space in the rear of the church. Maybe this arrangement might appeal to the Creasters. They obviously could leave early and not inconvenience the parishioners that wish to attend the entire Mass. They would be closer to the parking lot and it would facilitate their trip to the local breakfast establishment where they would be the first to arrive.