Skip to main content

Too Young To Be a Father?

Catholics  have a habit of addressing their priests as 'father'.  The habit is so ingrained that I never think about it.  I certainly don't think of priests as being anything like my father.  I never called my father 'father' anyway.  That would have made me think he was like a priest.  Which would have been quite weird.

My father didn't live beyond my childhood.  I always called him 'daddy', like most kids do in Ireland, becoming 'dad' as one gets older (or 'da', a Dublin variant, just 'dad' with the last 'd' missing).  I called my late father-in-law 'Papaji'.  Just the English word 'papa' with the respectful term 'ji' attached.  The English word 'father' doesn't mean a real father to me.

What is a priest?   A spiritual guide or leader?    According to the Bible, a priest is a holy person set apart from the community whose role is to offer sacrifices to God to expiate the sins of the community.  Before Christ came on earth, the role of the Jewish priests was to offer animal sacrifices.  After Jesus rose from the dead and returned to the Father in Heaven (God the father) the priest's role in offering the symbolic sacrifice of the Eucharist (body of Christ) which was a one-time sacrifice for the sins of mankind is a continuance of that. 

But why call the priest father? Tradition. The trouble with traditions is that they begin for a valid reason and often end up looking ridiculous.  People end up not knowing why they do things.

In India, we don't only address the priest as father.  We call him a 'father'.  So this led to a difficult situation in my life over here in India.

My husband and in-laws are Hindus.  I continue to be a practising Catholic.  I attend my local Church for spiritual matters and contribute financially to it.  Obviously, the priests call in and visit me from time to time.  At Christmas, Easter and odd times.   They are always welcome to my home.  I would usually introduce the priest to my in-laws as 'the father from the Church'.

A few years back, a newly ordained  priest, Fr. Andrew, was posted to my Church.  Andrew was very young looking.  He entered the seminary straight from school.  When he came out, he looked like he was still in school.  I had a lot of chats with him and found him very deeply knowledgeable about Biblical scripture, and very mature for his age.  He was sincere about wanting to bring God to people and the people to God.  In my experience, many Catholic priests don't succeed in their mission to help people find God because they don't read the Bible very much.  I always reminded him to keep the Bible nearby and teach from that.

Andrew visited my house one day for a cup of tea and a chat.  Obviously, when a handsome young man is visiting you (Andrew is gorgeous looking!) you have to tell your father in law who he is.

"This is the father from the Church" I said.  Andrew does not wear clerical garb outside the Church, which added to Papaji's confusion.  He was polite and welcoming, but full of questions afterwards.

"Why do you call him father?" he asked.

"Tradition," I replied.

"How can he be a father?  He is only a young boy!" said Papaji."How can I call him father?  He's years younger than I am!"

I had to admit that Papaji had a point. In fact at seventeen years younger than me, Andrew is young enough to be my son.

So from that day on, I've stopped calling priests father unless they are over sixty or so.  It doesn't feel right.  Not anymore.  Brother would be more appropriate in my opinion.

I've just had a new comment system installed.  If you would like to leave a comment, please click on the title of this post and allow a little time for the comment system to load - thanks!


Popular posts from this blog

Kipling Got it Wrong! Or Eastern and Western Culture - Reflections

What Is Culture?
I’m opening this blog post with a question. What is that elusive concept which is commonly known as ‘culture? Culture is way of life. How we live. What our values are.  Our customs, attitudes and perceptions. And also, I suppose, how we express ourselves in art through, such as music, dance, theatre and cinema.  It’s quite a comprehensive area and not too easy to define, really.

The Journey
I was born in what is commonly known as ‘the west’. I lived in Ireland for the first thirty years of my life. When I was thirty, I married my husband and came out to India to live here with him. That was the beginning of an interesting journey, which is still evolving. I must have had some east/west comparison stereotypes in my head. But in India, I found that the people I met had huge stereotypes in their heads about what they called ‘western culture’ and ‘western way of life’. Not long after I arrived in India, I was struck by the number of people who said things to me like ‘in the …

Five Ways Social Media Has Changed Our Lives

Has social media changed the way we live? You bet it has! I’ve been in India for 22 years and have visited home in Ireland maybe half-a-dozen times. The biggest challenge about this, for me, has always been coping with the difficulty of making contact with old friends and family. However, that’s all over now, thanks to Facebook. I check my phone every morning and read that uncle Ned in Dublin is furious over the biased referee in the boxing match or that my cousin Paula in Dublin went to see Take That in concert (or whoever!). I speak to my cousin Veronica in Scotland every few days thanks to WhatsApp. We haven’t spoken this frequently since we wrote to each other as kids. Social media has definitely changed our lives forever. I can think of at least five ways that social in which it has affected life as we know it.

Social media makes the world more accessible to us. This is a fact. The world is at your fingertips. Find out which of your friends and family are on Facebook and once you …

The Climate in my Hometown LBC Post

I am originally from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. We have a maritime climate, neither too hot nor too cold. Cool, wet winters and warm summers.  We get the odd freak weather condition, like several feet of snow, once in a while to make life interesting.  Pretty ideal really.  

Now I reside in Lucknow in north India. In the Indo-Gangetic plain.  Cold dry winters, roasting hot summers and a humid rainy season.  It seems like it's always too hot or too cold. Or too humid. Humidity is something I dread.  It brings itching, rashes and all of that.  Okay, too hot will work for me. So will too cold (although I hate dry cold, that's energy-sapping). But humidity is .......not at all good. And that's a euphemism if ever there was one,. 

I wish to dedicate this post to my beloved and erudite rakhi brother Rummuser, who suggested this topic.

And thanks to for the above illustration, 'Paper Weather Icon Illustration' by SweetCrisis.

The Loose Blogging C…