Grudgingly, I have to give a reading at my parents wedding vow renewal mass

One of my brothers knows I'm an atheist (though he probably thinks it's a 'phase'), and my sister probably has a good idea that I am.  I am not looking to ruffle any feathers, but I am kind of annoyed that I am being asked to walk up to the altar, bow, and lead the recessional prayer.  For the uninitiated, this means I will say after each prayer offering "let us pray" and everyone will respond "lord hear our prayer", as Catholic drones are wont to do.

My parents seem to have no idea that I'm an atheist, although I'm sure they know I haven't gone to mass in a decade or more.  My Mom once asked if I believed in angels or demons and I laughed and said "No, I do not."  She then asked if I believe in the Devil, I just said something like "No but I believe that a lot of shitty things happen to good people."  She stopped short of asking if I believe in god, maybe because she didn't want to hear the answer.  BTW it would probably crush her since I went to 17 years of catholic school, and she uses the fake word "prayerfully" in place of "hopefully".  Example: "I woke up with a little head cold today, prayerfully it will go away before the barbeque this weekend."

So as I said, I don't want to bring any drama to my parents 50th wedding anniversary, which is obviously a HUGE deal and something I'm very happy about and proud of, so I am just going to grin and bear it; but at the same time I wish I had a way out of this.  Maybe this sore throat/cough I have had will turn into full fledged laryngitis by tomorrow?  Maybe I'll go to karaoke tonight and sing a lot of Led Zeppelin til my voice disappears? Flying Spaghetti Monster, please let it be so.

Just venting...thanks



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Comment by Robert Karp on July 1, 2011 at 10:33am

Wow, that is a tough one Tex!! I mean you don't want to steal their thunder but at the same time, do you think declining this "honor" would be a huge problem? Thank them but ask if there is any other way you could take part?


Keep us posted!

Comment by Daniel Clear on July 1, 2011 at 10:47am
Hi Tex. it is a nightmare and I'd like to help but other than Robert's suggestion of backing down I don't know. I had to respond though because I have a similar problem. My mother has told me what I am to read at her catholic funeral. Now I could get out of this, after all I'm the only one she's told (btw, like the phase comment. my mother thinks i'm going through one as well) so I could just agree then not do it but that goes against my own beliefs. I will keep an eye on this thread and hope we can all get some insight
Comment by Andrew Bergstrom on July 1, 2011 at 11:16am
Know any good poetry? Maybe they can be swayed by something a bit more appropriate if you sell it right. You might also explain that you find the this sort of "Parroting" demeaning to their accomplishment, and that they deserve better than just the typical prayer to make it "Special" for everyone. Declining the honor could also be a good choice if you can't fake laryngitis for the day. Sell it that you are very proud of their 50 years of marriage, and that you to find someone to also go that distance. The worst that you could do is to insult their beliefs, so don't stress your beliefs over theirs. Good luck!
Comment by Tex in the City on July 1, 2011 at 11:55am

I appreciate all the tips, folks.


Robert - I already said I would do it, and the mass is I'll just do it.  There are worse things to be asked to do I suppose.


Daniel - that's a really tough position to be in, especially since it'll be at a time that you'll be going through lots of stress and grief to begin with.  Maybe you could have someone else read the stuff she has in mind?  Without telling her?  Then again, that reminds me of something I've thought of to let people know that should something happen to me, I absolutely do NOT want a catholic or even remotely religious ceremony.  I just want to be cremated and dumped in the ocean or on a nice golf course somewhere.  And I want everyone to just have a party.  But, fingers crossed, that won't be happening anytime soon!


Andy - I'm definitely going to put on the mask.  I guess I could look at it as Halloween or acting.  Halloween is fun.  You're right, it's very important to them, and it's important to me that they enjoy their big day.  They've earned it.


Andrew - I misspoke, it's called the "prayer of the faithful" not the recessional prayer.  Regardless, this is a pretty standard part of a Catholic mass and is not really open to poetic interpretation.  I suppose I could come up with some sort of poem or speech to give, and defer the prayer of the faithful to someone else.  However, the nice thing about reading the p o' the f is that I can just recite it without emotion and take the innate stress of public speaking out of the picture entirely.  Always look on the bright side!  Haha


Thanks all, and keep the thread going I'm curious to see how people feel about all this stuff.

Comment by Daniel Clear on July 1, 2011 at 12:27pm

i'm with you on the funeral. I seriously don't want a catholic affair. I can imagine my mother would argue that if i don't believe in an afterlife why would I care but the fact is I do believe life goes on after I stop (for others anyway) and like you I want a party for the people I loved and if possible a chance to share in the truth of what I really am warts an all rather than some childish idealisation you get at these things.


I think as it is my mother's wish I will go ahead and read the passage she wants but I will try to ensure that I open with "as most probably know I am an atheist..." and explain it was something that meant a lot to her. I have a very negative view of the catholic mindset and believe that even in death they feel they must keep up the chirade and I don't want to be part of that.


What I find difficult though is how religious family members still put their own beliefs before the wishes of loved ones and to some extent I feel the request is a bit like controlling from beyond the grave (ironic because if she truly believed in life after death she'd nip back afterwards and discuss it with me!) whereas I would hope that anyone saying words at my funeral would find something that meant something to me and them rather than some recycled religious platitude.


I don't even want to be cremated, my carbon footprint's big enough already so I'd like to give my body to medical science in the full knowledge that in every likelyhood some drunk student may decide to turn my balls into earings but better they mess around with my cadaver and get it out their system before letting loose on the living.


If there's one thing I want to leave after my death it's the truth, or at least a pointer to the truth. I was a bloke who lived, dicked about a few years and died but if I have one message it's enjoy life and don't dare anyone tell you something better comes after.


update us on the mass, hope it's not too hard for you.

Comment by StarStuff on July 1, 2011 at 3:47pm
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  It'll only be a few minutes that you have to read, no?  Put on that happy face, grin big for the sake of your parents then you'll be able to stop faking it in a little while.  I hope it goes by quickly.  Big  partay to follow?
Comment by Kairan Nierde on July 1, 2011 at 5:56pm
I'm sorry Tex.  I think it's the best thing to do just to suck it up and roll with the crazy.  I always felt like a zombie drone during this part of mass.
Comment by Shirley Ruth Whitton on July 1, 2011 at 8:34pm
My daughter was asked to do a reading at her brother's wedding.  She, like me, is an atheist, but my son is a christian.  She agreed, but they came up with a reading about 'love' which was mutually acceptable.  I wish your parents continued happiness (and that probably includes your performing)and I hope you can eventually be comfortable with what you've had to do..that is, IF you do it.  I'm really not helping, am I, and I'm sorry about that.  Best of luck!!!  If there's a party afterwards please enjoy yourself....
Comment by Doug Reardon on July 1, 2011 at 8:56pm
Just prior to your going to lead the recessional prayer, go to the men's room to take a leak, "forget" to tuck and zip, casually stroll up to the lectern, if you haven't been informed by then, look down, scream, cover yourself and run away!
Comment by James on July 1, 2011 at 11:43pm

It isn't exactly the best situation to be in, especially since they may not no you position and you obviously don't want to make their day all about you. Have there been any practices? Since they know you haven't been going to mass, you could always be rusty and accidentally say 'you may pray' instead of 'let us pray'. Or you could say 'lettuce pray'. lol :p

Obviously you don't want to cause a scene or have them think you were deliberately getting it wrong. So you can make the final call on what to do. If you do think you'll be able to take liberties with the words, than you technically won't be faking belief... or al least to a lesser degree.

Were it me, I would've come clean and offered to read poetry or a dedication of my own crafting. But every family dynamic is different, so I can't really fault you for something I'm ignorant to.

Whatever you do, good luck!


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