Should I go to mass for my dad, even if I don't believe in it any longer?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I was raised Catholic but haven't been to mass in years. My father, who I have had a difficult relationship with for most of my life is quite sick. He's asked me to start going to mass with him again. Here's the thing. I do want to spend time with him, but feel hypocritical being there as I don't believe in it. It feels wrong to go, but should I just do it for my dad?

Expert Answers

Shelly Beach, MRE, is a seminary graduate; instructor at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan; author of seven books; and contributor to The NIV Stewardship Study Bible. She speaks nationally on faith, writing, and caregiving and is a host on the website Help for My Life in roundtable discussions on care issues. Beach's most recent release is Ambushed by Grace: Help and Hope on the Caregiving Journey.

It's admirable that you want to honor your father by spending time with him, even though you've had a difficult relationship in the past. The Bible speaks about the importance of honoring parents, and sometimes we have to choose to give things up and lay things down in order to serve others. This is the heart of the Christian faith, and I sense your desire to serve your father.

You have several options. You can choose to take him out to breakfast before mass, drop him off while you run errands, and pick him up afterwards if you feel uncomfortable attending, or you might choose to go with him.

Not everyone goes to church out of a pure desire to worship, and God knows what motivates us to be there. Don't label yourself a "hypocrite" for going to church out of a desire to reconcile with your father or to spend time with him. After all, reconciliation is the heart of the gospel message.

If you feel like you need to say something to your dad, you can always say something like, "You know, Dad, I haven't been to mass for a long time, but I know it's important to you, so I'd like to come occasionally." Graciously let him know you're still responsible for your own faith decisions but that you also respect his.

Community Answers

Handiann answered...

I'd say do it for your dad. I'm sure you've done many things for people you cared about in the past when you didn't necessarily agree with what you were doing, like going somewhere you don't want to go or doing an activity you didn't really care about. But you do it for the person because you love them and it makes them happy.

I'm not religious but I've been to funerals for friends and bowed my head during prayers and hoped that if there's a God out there that he/she understands I have good in my heart even though I'm not personally a believer. I'm sure your dad will appreciate it and that's what matters, in my opinion.