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Old 01-28-2014, 12:57 PM
 
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Funny things seen at a catholic funeral mass.

Wife's uncle had a full blown catholic funeral mass. They had communion, (see post above) and maybe 20% of those there partook in the ritual, family, and I suppose church members.

The priest was helped by several little old men, I would guess their age at 80'ish, and actually 'served' the wine and cookies.

Anyway when they were done they were taking the goblet back one apparently still had a good bit of wine in it. Halfway back across the stage/altar, this little old man stops to chug the remaining wine (apparently you can't put it back) as there were 3 or 4 pretty good swallows left. I could feel the pew shaking and looked down to see my daughter about to bust as she watched this little old man chug the wine. I don't know how many didn't see it, but I'm sure that me and my daughter were many shades redder than anyone else trying to hold back the laughter.
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Old 01-28-2014, 01:44 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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I was an altar boy for four years and during that time served at what I'd estimate as at least four dozen funerals. It was easy to differentiate the regular church goers from the "only here because it is a funeral" types. This was the early '60's and the changes to the mass made by Pope John 23rd and Vatican II were slowly being implemented. The regulars all knew the drills, the "only funeral" types would be confused and always a beat behind everyone else when it came to standing, kneeling, crossing oneself, delivering responses and so forth.

The non Catholics I noticed tended to separate themselves, form their own section apart from the rest, typically toward the back of the church, as though their presence mixed in with the Catholics would somehow or other taint them.

Of course my perspective was entirely the altar boy's view. Of all the funerals I served, only once had I met the deceased and that was only because he had been some big shot Catholic donator who they had brought around to the classes one year to give us a lecture on how to become big shot Catholic donators like him. In a couple of cases I had known the kids of the deceased because they had been classmates, but never one where I had met their parents.

For me funerals were get out of school time, unless it was the weekend and serving a weekend funeral was an altar boy bummer, no missing of classes, and no tips like you got when you served a wedding. For the weekday ones, the altar boys always rooted for the burial to take place at the most distant possible cemetery because it took a long time to get there at funeral procession speed and that was more time away from the classroom.

We rode in the lead limo with the funeral home people and I had many enjoyable conversations with these guys about embalming, accidents with dead bodies, frantic repair jobs for open casket funerals, they always had great morbid senses of humor and my memory is of having a great time, laughing and joking all the way during this solemn procession.

And of course the church foolishly left the altar boys in charge of making sure that the cruets were filled the sacramental wine and water...and of course we always felt it necessary to taste it, testing it for possible Satanic impurities before the service. There was great variation among the priests of the parish regarding how much of a slug they took of the wine during mass. The altar boy poured it into the chalice before the ceremonial consumption by the priest, and the priest would let you know when to stop pouring by clinking the chalice to the cruet. Some took all that there was, others only wanted the smallest possible sip...and we loved those latter guys because that meant more wine was left over after mass ended...which we tested for Satanic impurities again.
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Old 01-28-2014, 02:04 PM
 
Location: Mississippi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asheville Native View Post
I'm pretty sure you meant to say "I would have NOT taken communion"

Also the description of being herded like sheep (sorry couldn't resist) seem a bit over the top on the part of the church also. They know or should know that many people of many faiths, or <gasp> none attend funerals out of respect for the person or to support the family. At the only full blown catholic funeral mass I have been to, there was no herding, just the opportunity for those that wanted to participate in the symbolic cannibalism.
It was kind of like this:


First row of family was here -> -----------
Troop was in second row here -> |-|----------
Third row of family was here -> ---------

Starting from left to right on the first row, the woman gently directed my family members to receive communion. However, I had little inkling that this was what was happening. At first, I thought they were getting up and being processed out of the church. There was so much standing, sitting, and this and that that I was sort of just going through the motions.

When she got to my row, I was supposed to be the first to stand up and because I was a little confused as to what was going on, and also because I didn't want to block all the other members of my family from getting out of the pews, I stood up. But the woman stood at the entrance to the third row with her arm pointing straight ahead to the line.

I would have basically had to make some really awkward spinning pirouettes and maneuvers to avoid getting in line. The last thing I wanted to do was act like I was trying to break a tackle in the middle of my grandmother's funeral in front of two full rows of family members. Even still, I wasn't entirely certain of what was going on - though I think I began to realize the line was for communion at that point.

The next thing I knew, I was standing there in front of a priest and he's saying "The Body of Christ." I had absolutely no idea what to do. Not that I really cared. It's not like I would have said "Amen" or "Hallelujah" or "Thanks be to God" anyway. My sister told me later she said "Thanks" - which I thought was a perfect response.

I think the main point of this thread though was to try and discern how much other Atheists "play along" at the funerals of loved ones. I refuse to act like I'm praying and I won't say any sort of "Thanks be to God" or anything like that. It rubs against every fiber of my moral being and I don't even suspect my Grandmother would really even care in the first place. Naturally, I didn't mind standing and sitting with everyone. Not doing so would be to single myself out in such a fashion that everyone would distinctly notice my refusal and that it would then become more about me than my grandmother.
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Old 01-28-2014, 02:06 PM
 
Location: South Carolina
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Originally Posted by GCSTroop View Post

So, what does everyone else do at a funeral of those loved ones and friends who are religious?
That's a good question and one I've been asking myself since I have aging parents and other relatives who are elderly. I've been to a lot of funerals starting way back when I was a little girl but I haven't attended a funeral since becoming agnostic/atheist. I suppose I'll handle like you did, but I feel sure that yours was fairly tame to what I'll experience since I come from a long line of evangelical Christians.

I guess the best thing is to just get through it without too much fuss, even if you have to participate in prayers, rituals and what have you.....I may have to deal with hand-holding, raised hands and speaking in tongues, who knows. It feels a little cowardly to me but since none of them know about my disbelief it's just another way of self-preservation in my opinion. It's just a terrible time for family when a loved one dies so if one's non-belief has to take a back seat at that time then so be it.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCSTroop View Post
It was kind of like this:


First row of family was here -> -----------
Troop was in second row here -> |-|----------
Third row of family was here -> ---------
I was in the family rows also (wife's uncle) but there was NO ushering or herding, the priest simply made the altar call or whatever, and those that wanted to got up and went. I remained seated.

Had there been herding, I would have stepped out of the line to let the others get past me.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by GCSTroop View Post
I think the main point of this thread though was to try and discern how much other Atheists "play along" at the funerals of loved ones.
Okay. In that case, I observe the rituals and support the family and friends during the wake, eulogy, receiving line, and odes and speeches.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:40 AM
 
Location: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
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Just bow your gaddamned head. It's a sign of respect and you don't have to pretend to pray. Just act like a human, not an alien suddenly thrust into a crazy, inscrutable Earthling ritual.

As far as communion. Sit respectfully. If anyone asks, you are not Catholic and thought it inappropriate to take communion in a Catholic church. Worked for me.

Finally, I think you may have initially projected your own insecurity onto the priest, thus seeming weird yourself, and this made the priest uncomfortable, He starts acting weird. Finally you have this crazy one-on-one, eye-to-eye, wordless showdown at the altar which ends with him feeding you a cracker. Of course its weird. Tarantino wishes he could write a scene like that!
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Old 01-29-2014, 07:33 PM
 
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It's expected that some people will stay seated when they do communion. If you felt really pressured you go up and don't open your mouth, and they give you a blessing. There are things you're supposed to say and do at communion that they teach their kids in confirmation classes, so it's very obvious you're not in the club. But even different brands of christian won't take communion from the others, so not going up is NBD. The ybelieve that the wafer literally really truly turns into human flesh when the priest casts his spell, so feeding it to a heathen probably horrifies them.

During prayers and stuff I just have a kind of middle distance stare. I don't bow my head or say anything. I stand and sit with the congregation, but remain seated when they kneel. Again, I'm usually not the only one not kneeling.
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Old 01-29-2014, 08:00 PM
Status: "Watching America made small." (set 8 days ago)
 
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Like Grandstander, I was an altar boy and served at a few dozen funeral Masses.

I was also born into a large Catholic family and had too many friends die young. As a result, I was asked to be a pall bearer at over 20 funerals over the years, most of them Catholic.

Death has few mysteries for me.

Receiving Communion has always been optional. I'm surprised to read the OP felt forced to participate. I've never seen that. I stopped feeling Catholic and have refused to partake of Communion since i was 16.

No one will think less of someone refusing to get up to receive Communion. I'm surprised it was an issue anywhere, any time.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:15 PM
 
40,228 posts, read 26,840,335 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCSTroop View Post
I think the main point of this thread though was to try and discern how much other Atheists "play along" at the funerals of loved ones. I refuse to act like I'm praying and I won't say any sort of "Thanks be to God" or anything like that. It rubs against every fiber of my moral being and I don't even suspect my Grandmother would really even care in the first place. Naturally, I didn't mind standing and sitting with everyone. Not doing so would be to single myself out in such a fashion that everyone would distinctly notice my refusal and that it would then become more about me than my grandmother.
I think the degree to which atheists would "play along" at the funerals of loved ones would be proportional to the degree of love and respect they have for the loved one and the others present. A funeral is not about YOU, Troop . . . so I suspect that most people who genuinely care about those involved would "play along." There is no physical damage done and you don't believe in anything spiritual anyway. Of course, if everything is always about you and how you feel . . .
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