A couple of years ago, while on a tour of a city in southern Spain, we went into a cathedral. My dad was ill, and as it turned out, didn't have more than a a couple of years left to live. I'm a complete non-believer, but I like the old architecture. There's something weird about churches that hark back to a time where religious observance was unquestioned. So this was the last time I bought a candle and lit it, for my dad. I didn't have any pretence that it might in some way inspire any divine intervention, but my thought process was basically that if my dad were there, it would be perfectly natural for him to buy and light a candle for someone in his position, so if he would do it for someone else, would he not appreciate it that someone else did it for him? Of course, I didn't advertise the fact that I had done it, nor did I tell him I'd done it. It still felt right.
I don't know what to expect here, whether I'll get a lot of people agreeing with me or whether people will shoot me down for doing something that looks like a kind of religious observance that I don't agree with.
I hope the reaction will be one of understanding, acceptance and agreement.
I remain very anti-organised religion, though I'm not always as outspoken as I might be out of respect for my parents (and others in my family) whom I still greatly admire. 
I believe my dad was a genuinely good man, and his faith was important to him. An extremely tolerant and caring man. We once threw him a surprise party, that he wouldn't have asked for but thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. By the same token, lighting a candle for him was kind of something he would have appreciated, even though it meant nothing to me in terms of me expecting any kind of divine intercession as a result, but I still have no qualms about doing it for my dad.
So, was I wrong to light a candle in a Catholic cathedral, or can you agree with my logic?

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I definitely think it's a good gesture. It doesn't need to "mean" anything to anyone but you, and you meant not to ask God for a miracle, but to pay your own tribute for you father. I see nothing wrong with that.

I love architecture as well. There are so many LDS churches around here, that are beige, brick, and less than blah. When I stepped into my first Cathedral it was an incredible experience. I find it beautiful and fascinating the way they've been built to make the church itself seem more grand and powerful. It doesn't change the bottom line.
I don't think that anyone else's opinion matters. You did something nice for someone. Take it and leave it at that.
Thanks for the messages of support. I'm always pleasantly surprised by how understanding and non-judgemental people are in this forum - don't know why I should continue to be surprised after all this time, but there you go. I've done this before, when I've half expected at least some negative reaction but found only warmth and understanding. Thanks guys.
Symbols have meaning because people assign a meaning to them, I think that lighting a candle for your father is a beautiful symbol that holds meaning to you personally in respect to your (beloved) father.

I guess that a lot of people on AN have been in similar situations where they hijacked used a symbol and gave it their own meaning, it's only human.
While I personally wouldn't have bought the candle - no penny of mine towards that evil entity - I do appreciate the beauty in some rituals.

Here in Arizona, there's a Yavapai Indian legend that when you see a dust devil, it's the spirit of an ancestor stopping by to say hello. Every time I see one I say hi back.

Dust devils are cool and fascinating and it doesn't hurt a thing to let the imagination run free and think of passed-on loved ones!
I bow my head when people say grace and not because I want to just out of the fact that its a non abrasive religious practice that will not hurt or hinder me in anyway. On the other hand If I do say the pledge ( I volunteer in her school) I do not say under God, cause I find that controling and offensive. So no you did what you wanted to and you honored your fathers wishes so good job.




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