Everyone talks about it like it's some longstanding joke. Catholics will all fill up the back pews of the Church. You and I both know it; the back of the Church is always full before the front.
While at a daily Mass recently at a massive, magnificent church in Orange County, there were very few people in the front. Everyone was scattered around the back of the Church, and the back was incredibly far away from the greatest miracle we can witness every single day.
Go to a concert and you will see people stand in line for hours to get a seat close to the stage, close to the action, close to the famous musicians. Any concert or show is arguably better from the pit or the front seats…the prices for the orchestra seating at a big show on Broadway usually involve a few figurative arms and legs. These seats are of great value because you can see everything happening first-hand, and not only that, the energy is incredible. I usually end up making friends with people standing close by in the pit at a concert. A group of people crowded together makes for a great sense of belonging, of us all being here for one purpose...because we LOVE this music.
And I wonder...are we so desensitized to the miracle of the Eucharist that we do not care to be as close to it as possible? Would we stand in line for hours to get a spot in the front pews if we only got to witness this miracle when Jesus came through on tour? And are we so concerned with our individual prayer lives that we each pick our one little seat, scattered across the entire Church, as if we did not feel like a community at all?
I wonder, really, what it would be like if we all sat in the front pews. That it was a thing, that in every Catholic Church, you filled up the front pews first. Would people who stopped by, who were forced to sit close to others, feel like they belonged to something, and return? Would we make friends because we would be sitting in close proximity to a stranger and feel like maybe we could or should introduce ourselves? Would someone who stopped by a Mass for the first time ever see that we are a community, rather than a scattered group of individual relationships with Jesus? Would we feel more like a community of believers, people gathered together, with the common knowledge that we LOVE this Jesus Christ...who isn't a rock star or a celebrity or great musician, but the King of all the Earth?