Readers have responded in droves to our question on Monday: “Will you attend religious services this Easter?”
Some said they will go to a church to feel a sense of community; others for the moral lessons. Others want nothing to do with religion and would like it out of their own lives and out of the Irish education system.
Here is selection from the 80-plus submissions that had arrived at time of publication.
‘I feel very close to my mum in the church’
I will be attending religious services over Easter. I have been a lapsed Catholic for years, attending only when with my mother or for Christmas Eve. However, since my mother died in February 2021 I have felt a strong “pull” towards ritual, meditation, the familiar prayers said in unison and spiritual direction offered by the priest.
I feel very close to my mum in the church because she was so devout. Her funeral was heavily impacted by Covid restrictions with only 13 in attendance, including two priests and a singer. She was a popular and committed member of her community and would have had a very large funeral…Yet the Mass was so comforting and brought healing.
I can’t explain it but perhaps with all the uncertainty and upheaval of Covid, her loss and the ensuing grief, the certainty and constancy the church represents is comforting.
I don’t agree with everything and have spent a lot of my life outraged by the church’s obvious failings to women, abuse of children and to gay people … and yet here I am, sitting in a pew, connecting with something elemental and feeling deeply a bond with my mother whom I miss every day.
‘Covid ended my obligation to attend’
I still don’t know if I will attend. I am 62. When I married on Easter Monday 37 years ago I did not miss any of the Easter week services. Over the years, especially the last 10 years, it is hit or miss if I attend. Covid has ended my perceived obligations to attend any services. I enjoy occasionally attending Mass at Knock shrine.
‘We would like religious instruction removed from school’
We are a humanist family and thus do not celebrate Easter. We will have a nice breakfast together as is our tradition. We would like to ask for religious instruction to be removed from school as 95 per cent of children in primary schools have no choice and are exposed to religious instruction due to lack of alternatives. I would also like humanism discussed in school.
‘Moral authority has been lost by church leaders’
It’s the high point of the church year. I didn’t attend this Christmas. I like the sense of community, spiritual focus. I think the wisdom of many prayers and liturgical passages capture the essence of human experiences and needs. I don’t agree with all church teachings especially as they relate to being female. I think there is great wisdom in the New Testament, especially in terms of modern themes such as stress management, life purpose, environment and stewardship.
The moral authority has been lost by church leaders especially after their reactions over the last 30 years in Ireland. But I need a sacred space for expressing key life moments and joining with friends family and wider community at those times.
I am running a mile from my childhood, through teens, into adulthood indoctrination by the Catholic church.
‘Mass every day’
I’ve attended Mass in different churches every day during Lent. It’s a church no longer dependent on obligation but on voluntary attendance by the faith community.
‘Religion causes more division than unity’
I don’t believe what was forced upon us in the production line that was the Irish education system and I don’t like how the Roman Capitalist Church treats women as second-class citizens, how it introduced celibacy late in the day only to protect its landholdings, operates outside the law, pays no tax and systematically facilitates repeat offenders.
While a lot of good has been done by a lot people in religious orders, religion wasn’t required for morality. By definition, it causes more division than unity in humanity. Just like the nation state, it has had its time, in my view.
‘My son is making his confirmation’
Yes we’ll go to church at Easter, because my son is about to make his confirmation and hasn’t been in a church since pre-pandemic. I’m afraid he won’t know what to do/say!
Despite taking part in religious services from birth and throughout my 14 years of Catholic education, all while under the watchful eye of my religious parents, I haven’t attended a Mass that wasn’t a sacrament since my college years. To each their own, but organised religion just isn’t for me. Sorry Mum!
‘I know that I am blessed’
I will attend Holy Thursday Mass, Good Friday Service, and Easter Sunday Mass. I am a Christian, belonging to the Roman Catholic branch. In this Holy Week I choose to take time to remember the story of the last days of Jesus the man. In following the journey I review my own journey in terms of love, loyalty, service, belonging, community, gratitude, compassion. The resurrection is the journey’s end. Joy and the possibility of the coming of the kingdom. I am a resurrected Christian; I move from the crucifixion to the wonder, awe, and joy of the resurrection and know that I am blessed.
‘We have Catholicism rammed down our throats’
No way. I am an atheist and I find this over-the-top coverage of religious events a bit nauseating. Every to their own but we have Catholicism rammed down our throats all day every day.
‘Easter is very special’
My family and I are really looking forward to remembering the passion and death of Jesus and celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. We bring our young children to Mass on Sundays, but Easter is very special. The music and the ceremony all add so much to the meaning of the services also.
No. I plan on eating chocolate eggs instead.
No. Because of high levels of Covid infections.
‘I lost faith when evil infiltrated the church’
Born a Roman Catholic, I lost all faith when evil infiltrated the church – I detest their tired manmade rules that favour the decisions that have lead to blatant gender discrimination,historical child and other abuse, fear and societal divides.
‘The abusive Catholic Church’
Me, my husband and our four-year-old will not attend any religious services for Easter. It would be appalling to me to have our child indoctrinated in the abusive organisation that is the Catholic Church like I was. It's bad enough she'll have to sit through so much religious instruction in publicly funded schools (opted out or not).
‘It is a community time’
Yes, I will attend Mass in a Catholic church to celebrate Easter/springtime and think about others who are not so fortunate. It is a community time also.
‘Mass is boring’
Religious or non religious, mass is boring with a capital B. Due to the monotone drone that we have to endure from the well-intentioned priest, it is very difficult to focus on the words that are said in the first place. When one does find it in themselves to perk up their ears, what is to be heard is completely archaic. I find myself in the same thought spiral each time. My goodness this is boring Wow, are we living 500 years ago? Where are the women in the church? Are gay people accepted yet? What about trans people? Why am I here? I have sex before marriage … am I living in sin? This feels like a cult. How is this allowed? Get me out of here.
‘Consider how we can improve our lives’
The Catholic Church, much reviled by the press, has some redeeming features, ie spending time in a quiet environment with your community to reflect each week through the gospels and think of others and pray for them. To consider how we can improve our lives and that of others and to chat with people of all generations before and afterwards. Change in any institution doesn’t come from discarding it. It comes from working with its strengths.
‘We are a non-religious family’
No, we will not be attending any Easter services. My husband, myself and our children are a non-religious family and do not celebrate Easter. Likewise, despite being ethnically Irish, no one in our extended families attend Mass or otherwise celebrate any religious holidays.
‘Easter is one of the most important weeks’
Lots of young people, like myself aged 21, will attend mass across the week including penitential services, as Easter is one of the most important weeks in the Church calendar. People are glad of the bank holiday and school holidays etc. but don’t take much time to look around them and count their blessings!
‘I will attend out of my personal belief’
This is to bear expression to my personal belief in Jesus as Saviour and to mark his rising from the dead and Resurrection. I will attend it to also as part of the Christian community in Cashel. Like many, I see serious issues in the institutional church but not withstanding that, I will attend Easter ceremonies out of my personal belief in God.
‘Cake and nosecco’
Easter Service with cake and nosecco afterwards. Afterall its a celebration. Regular Church of Ireland celebration of Easter day.
‘It sustains me’
Yes I will attend church services over Easter. I am a daily Mass goer and it is without doubt an essential part of my day. It sustains me , brings peace and hope when those are not so available elsewhere.
‘I love a good liturgy’
I really would love to attend and just might. My reluctance is around the number of people that may be present. I love to sing at Mass but would probably be uncomfortable if someone were singing behind me in a loose mask. I have very good masks, the medical grade being pushed by authorities just 10 days before all restrictions were lifted. If all were using those, I’d be less nervous.
I love a good liturgy but really don’t enjoy rote versions. If necessary, I can walk out knowing I’m walking away from an unsafe (by my lights) gathering.
‘The biggest curse in the world’
Definitely not. Organised religion is the biggest curse in the world. It’s all about power and control especially over women.
‘The church provides some moral teaching’
Yes, we are going to my parents for the weekend, and they are very religious. Also both my daughters are making Confirmation and Communion. I’m not religious but my kids like meeting other kids at Mass if we go and there is a sense of community in this. Also while I’m very liberal in my views, I feel the church provides some good moral teaching, a basic sense of right and wrong and a message to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. It’s also a reflective space to an extent and encourages children to sit still and be quiet for a short time.
‘Neither of us believe in the teachings of the Catholic church’
No, our family won’t be attending any religious services. My husband and I were both raised Catholic; however, neither of us believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Our two children have not been baptised. We are generally only in church for weddings or funerals.
‘Free live music is a rarity’
I will be attending six services in the week leading up to Easter. Free live music is a rarity these days, at least free live music that is of a high standard. I am lucky enough to be a part of a number of choirs that provide such music for church services, and I think if more people exposed themselves to more of it they would remember why people used to go to church.