Being Received into the Church without Parental Approval

I started on the road to Catholicism a couple years ago.

I am captivated by the beauty and depth and mystery of the Roman Catholic religion. I am struck by how faithfully the Church has safeguarded the numinous archetypal images and motifs, born from man’s collective imagination, through her teaching in spite of so much iconoclasm. And I am awed by the romanticism of the sacraments–most especially the holy Eucharist.

I am amply aware of Church teaching. Backwards and forwards. I have my doubts, my points of dissent, but nothing that for a second would make me rethink this.

I want desperately to be received into the Church.

I was raised Protestant, specifically Baptist, but was never religious until shortly before my “conversion experience,” so to speak, began. At the time, I was a zealot. The more I progressed spiritually, the more I felt drawn to the Catholic Church–and the more I abandoned this zeal in favor of the serenity Christ was offering me through his constant outpouring of graces.

When I finally knew for certain–when I was finally, and at last, able to discern God’s voice in the matter–I told my mother (I’m fourteen), who, despite being a Baptist, has never been very “spiritual” and I think is more concerned with religion as a matter of heritage, or tradition, than of genuine conviction.

She didn’t allow me to be Confirmed. She also mandated that I continue going to church with them on Sundays, although she never prevented me from going to Mass (and even accomodated me in this) since we live so close to a parish.

Recently, I gave her a heart-felt letter I had written to the Bishop along with our confirmation class (which she allowed me to attend) that expressed my desire to receive Christ in the sacraments and openly confessed how torn I felt between her and my newfound faith. She seemed touched. Since then, our family as a whole hasn’t gone to First Baptist (our old church) in well over a month, though I continue to go to Mass (they have no problem taking me). I am almost sure that, though it remains unspoken, she has finally released me from my obligation to continue attending with them. I have of course talked to my old youth pastors at First Baptist about this as well as my priest and a sister in our parish I am close to–and most especially my friend’s mother, a true universal-Catholic, who is my mentor in so many respects. (She was brought up atheist in Communist Poland and so is able to more than relate to parental opposition and hindrances of every sort.)

After all this, it’s worth mentioning that my eighteen-year-old sister (a self-proclaimed agnostic) is now pregnate (due in three weeks).

I will be attending an excellent Catholic high school along with my friend.

I still am passionate about my reception into the Church and would like to see it happen–and soon. Maybe within this next Church year. And even though my mother seems more open than ever–perhaps she’s just exhausted, all things considered, and has just "surrendered–I don’t want to seem selfish at a time like this. Still…

Part of me wishes I could just be received without having to bring my parents into it like this, and with so much happening all at once.

Is there a way to be received without parental consent?

Should I instead just worry my mother with something like this at such a difficult time?

Please… I need some help.

You said you’ve talked to the priest and a sister in the parish. What did they recommend?

It’s very difficult for anyone to advise without personally knowing the people involved.

I don’t even know if there could be a legal problem were a priest to baptize someone underage contrary to the parent’s expressed wishes. And of course, there is the commandment to “Honor your father and mother”. This includes obedience - except where obeying would cause one to sin.

The priest has suggested that I “pray.” I liked this advice very much. And I’ve come to the point where my prayer has only led me more and more to feel that reception into the Church is what I must do. He has even offered to contact the Bishop to discuss this all with me personally sometime.

As for the Sister, she was passionate about the matter, even suggesting that we might be able to have me received secretly if necessary. (My friend’s mother, having been of course received secretly, also supported this means if nothing else could be done. She even said she would sign for me, sponsor me, etc. “It would not be a lie,” she said. “I am your mother–albeit spiritual and not physical.” I am very tempted at a time like this to take her up on her advice. She said, if it were her, she would state calmly and respectfully to her mother that this is what she must do, and that she wants her mother to be a part of the decision–but if not, she must go through with it anyway.)

It would not become a legal issue, I assure you.

And I struggled with that Commandment for a long time, contemplating its depths and asking myself if I was truly violating it. I now am sure that such is not the case. Truly honoring my parents is about treating them respectfully in this matter but in doing what I am certain is best–and more importantly, right for me. Anything else would be dishonest at this point, and that does violate the Commandments. More than a few saints had to defy parents in one way or another for the sake of their faith. In the Communist lands, many modern-day saints did the same. I am ready to follow in their footsteps if necessary.

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