The Last Shall Be First; The Front Shall Be Last

Every so often at our parish’s daily Mass, a newcomer on the end of the back row gets some startling information: it’s their turn to go to Communion first.

We don’t proceed to Communion this way on Sunday, only on weekdays. Anybody else ever worship in a parish in which the last rows were guided to lead the Communion procession and the front row bring up the rear? Any theological or practical thoughts on the procedure?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to The Last Shall Be First; The Front Shall Be Last

  1. Fran says:

    The parish I worship at is oddly shaped (oh that is an understatement, bad renovations on crack is the theme) and also huge. Our communion lines go front pew and then back; it is too awkward to do otherwise.

    Daily mass is in a chapel with chair arranged antiphonally and that is nice for other reasons.

    My prior parish, in a different part of the state did rear to front and I really grew to like that best. This was on Sunday and it really made some good sense based on flow.

    I have not one theological thought to add, but I do think about the flow of communion lines more often than I care to admit.

  2. Liam says:

    I grew up in a parish in that did back-to-front for decades – ushered pretty strictly. We were never told why. It just was.

    My speculation was that it arose during the Baby Boom when churches were packed and there were lots of people standing in back, and the feeling was to get them moving first. The thing was, it also meant it was less conspicuous to leave after receiving.

  3. The 7 AM Mass at my parish is in the small chapel in the parish center. The left side of chairs (no pews) goes first, back to front, followed by the right side, again back to front. My best guess is that is to facilitate the flow of traffic.

  4. Deacon Eric says:

    Here in Los Angeles, most parishes I’ve been to, including my own, begin the communion procession from the back pews. The reason for this was made clear by our archbishop: the communion procession should resemble an actual procession.

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