Last Monday I went to the funeral for the wife of a coworker. Unbeknown to me, it ended up being a full blown 1.5 hour Catholic mass. In the last 30 years, you can count on one hand how many masses I’ve been to. Twice my mother guilt-tripped me into going about 25 years ago (she gave up trying long ago). The other times were funerals like this week. This was my first mass since joining A/N and becoming basically an anti-theist.
I went with two coworkers who are both religious. I did the catholic aerobic thing and stood and sat on cue, but didn’t kneel. Thankfully there were other people sprinkled about the church not kneeling so I wasn’t the only heretic. Although it scared me, I could remember most of the robotic responses, but the only words I uttered were “Peace be with you” when it came time to shake everyone’s hand around me. I definitely passed on the virtual cannibalism.
There was holy water, big statues, lots of lit candles, gold-leafing, one life-size crucifix with a tortured Jesus on it, an organ, pretty hymns, and bagpipes. There were readings, prayers, a gospel and a sermon. There was the consecration of the host which included ringing bells when the priest held up the host (why?), and a lot of bowing and genuflecting. I’d guess there were 200 to 250 people (she was popular in this church) who looked as sane and rational as anyone you would ever meet.
The priest with the soothing voice said things like, “She had her faith, and that’s all that mattered. Nothing else really does... She’s left her physical body behind and joined our lord for eternity in heaven”. At several points, I wanted to jump up on the pew and scream “YOU’RE ALL FRIGGING DELUSIONAL!!!” But with the grieving widower, his four kids and 17 grandchildren all crying, I figured it wasn’t really the time or the place.
If you put the phony, dogmatic ritual crap aside, it was a nice service that remembered what seemed to be a nice woman (who I never met). I kept looking around thinking “How do all of you just totally suspend reality for this fantasy?” It's been 30 years since I was religious and I really can't remember that feeling. Although I’m glad I went to support my coworker, I hope it is years until I have to do it again.