Criticism of Religion

A Kemetic and an atheist mourned a Catholic…

Sounds like the setup to a bad joke, doesn’t it? “A Kemetic, an atheist and a Catholic walked into a bar…” (Even my saying that is a bad cliché. But I couldn’t resist, sorry.)

Robert Pare, Jr. My dad.

My dad died on July 27. He was a devout Catholic. The funeral was on August 5.

It’s been rough. Losing my mother last year, only 14 months earlier, and now losing my father…yeah, it’s not been fun, believe me. And in some ways, I sort of put off really mourning my mother; for instance, when Mom died, I had made Dad a photo album of the photos we had taken in recent years. I found myself wishing I could go through it myself but then thinking, “I’ll deal with that later.” Well, later is now. I keep the photo album by my side of the bed, where I’ll look through it before sleeping. And I’ll cry over both of them.

So the services, of course, were Catholic. I said a rosary for Dad with the priest at the funeral home; my atheist husband wasn’t there. I let him know when the rosary was scheduled so he could skip it; he’d already been subjected to too much religion as it was.

And the worst was yet to come.

During the funeral Mass, the priest came over and blessed us instead of giving us Communion. Now, as a sort of returning part-Catholic, I was okay with that. My husband wasn’t.

For my part, I guess the priest probably didn’t know how to really deal with an atheist within the context of a funeral Mass, especially knowing that I was willing to participate to a certain extent.

My husband, on the other hand, was frustrated and disappointed. It was not the time for the priest, who knew he was an atheist, to be pushing his religion onto him.

There has to be a better way to address the different needs of a mixed marriage in these situations.

What do you think the priest should have done?

5 thoughts on “A Kemetic and an atheist mourned a Catholic…

  1. I’m so sorry for the loss of your parents. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    I think the priest in your situation could have offered a simple handshake instead of the blessing. Perhaps he forgot or hadn’t fully absorbed the message that your husband is an atheist, or perhaps giving blessings is an automatic practice for him. I think we must assume, as you suggested, that his intention was to console and not to be disrespectful or push his religion on someone in the midst of grieving. Even so, it was inconsiderate.

    I think the window to send the priest a tactfully-phrased note or email is still open, even into September, if you or your husband so choose – and, of course, have the energy to do so. While journalists often report about insensitive Christian clergy, there are also newsworthy stories about those who regret having caused pain to families and pledge to to better.

    However you choose to handle this, I hope cherished memories of your mother and dad help you to to find solace and peace.

    Like

  2. First and foremost, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to lose both parents in such a short timespan.

    This is a challenging question that I just dealt with last month when I attended my Catholic aunt’s funeral. Most of our family are atheists, and they, too, were uncomfortable receiving that blessing. But the way one of my cousins put it is that they were fine being uncomfortable for a few minutes because the purpose was to be there for our deceased aunt — she was the focus, and not the very awkward and confused priest who had probably never seen so many atheists gathered in his church! Also, my aunt was obsessed with shopping, so we compared this uncomfortable experience to the uncomfortable hours spent on our feet with her while she was bargain-hunting across town on family vacations – a little exasperating, but worth it to spend time with her. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your condolences, and I’m sorry you lost your aunt. It’s not been a good year for a lot of people. And I like the solution your family chose. Everyone’s different, though, and it may be easier for your family to tolerate discomfort for a few minutes, as opposed to my husband, who had to tolerate two 2-hour viewings at the funeral home in addition to a one-hour funeral Mass. At any rate, both events are over and we can continue our private grieving for as long as we need. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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