Most churches built these days are for large congregations. And most all of those communities have clergy serving. If there is no priest on Sunday, however, there are important guidelines to follow on who sits in which chair, and where:
§ 116 § The celebration of the Eucharist is the norm for Sunday assemblies. However, a decrease in the number of priests makes this difficult or impossible on a weekly basis in some communities. When the celebration of Mass on a Sunday is not possible in a given parish and the people have no reasonable alternatives, the diocesan bishop can permit the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word or the Liturgy of the Hours or one of these combined with a communion service.(Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest: Leader’s Edition (1993), 14) When a community gathers for a Sunday celebration in which a priest is not present, the deacon who presides leads the community’s prayer from the presidential chair in the sanctuary.(Ibid, 19) A lay person who presides leads the prayer from a chair placed outside the sanctuary.(Ibid, 24; CDWDS: Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest (1988), 40)
It seems there are two issues for lay persons: do not use the priest’s chair, and do not sit in the sanctuary. This seems reasonable to me. You?
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.