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.)
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?