First post, baptized Catholic as a baby, 22, many questions


#1

I believe I am posting this in the proper forum. I grew up Catholic. At a young age my parents had stopped taking me to Church and I had had a sort of "falling out."
My sister had ventured into western versions of Christianity. I couldnt even name them if I had to… I had gone along with her sometimes and the stuff was torcher… I couldnt stand it. I read the Bible at a very young age and while I dont remember much, I remember the basic principles.

I know that ALL religions have the same basic principles. I decided to post this here, because it was my core roots as a child, and because Catholics have a very open mind about things. (Yeah, I know most people say they dont, but try talking to a Jehovas Witness, or a Protestant, or anything else)

The problem I had with the westernized versions of Christianity are the “cool” factor they threw in. The modernized versions of things to sway young people into the faith.
Now, I have never been a prude, but I guess I just saw through all of it for what it really was: a money machine.

As a matter of fact many Churches had the seemingly same aura about them.
A good friend convinced me to go along with him to a church, I cant remember what it was but it honestly scared me. People were speaking in tounges, touching me, begging me to accept their God. I really felt intimidated.

Once I had got into college I never really lost “faith” so much as I had lost a specific religion.
I read everything I could from Christian theology, to the Bagvad Gita, to the Te Tao Ching, as well as a lot of basic principles I had learned through physics, quantum mechanics, and other scientific theory.

By this time I thought I had a pretty good understanding of faith, and life, and the universe. I mainly focused a lot on Buddhism as it seemed very similar to Catholicism in the traditional sense I had known. (Please dont take offense to that, I will elaborate further.) Buddhism offered me a faith I could literally think about on a long drive and be content with myself. The idea of Karma, and Dharma and being one with everything was a lot like what I had thought the original idea of Christianity to be.

Contrary to popular belief the Buddha is not to be worshiped, but that God is within ourselves. (Another Christian teaching).
This allowed me to really feel content, I was in control, while still (maybe) holding on to the Catholic teachings when I was a kid.
Of course, in college I had gotten a few tattoos, started smoking, drinking, being with women, you name it. I guess it’s commonplace for many college students.

The problem with Buddhism, is where do you go when you have a question? I learned a lot about how to cope with many aspects of life that still apply to modern life in our world.
I could justify anything, with any book, with any text, of any Religion.

I could justify killing someone (in self defense) just by some text from the Dali Llama. (Not really sure what Catholicism teaches about self-defense and the right to life.)

I became very proud to life in this country. I stuck to the constitution of the USA and took advantage of every right I had as an American citizen. I realized, I could vote, buy cigarettes, buy guns, buy liquor, sign up for a draft, and I took advantage of those rights. Everything I do, and every belief I have can be attributed to faith. I can defend anything I do by using these Religions, and the Constitution of the United States to ultimatley make me feel in complete control of my life at all times.

Then, recently, I started thinking a lot more about Catholicism.
I remember going to a beautiful Church in Jacksonville, Florida called Immaculate Conception in downtown.
I find myself wanting to go back to church but I am afraid of scrutiny.

How will the Father see my abscence from the church? How would God view the tattoo of a Buddhist priest on my arm, or my affairs with women out of wedlock. Or even more intimidating sometimes, the other attendees of the church?
These are things I cannot change. I cannot give up everything I have learned so much from Buddhism, I cannot give up my right to life, I cannot give up my long-time girlfriend. I certainly can’t erase the tattoo on my arm either.

Some people may say that is ridiculous, that your faith should always come first. Expect me to renounce everything I have ever believed in no matter what religion it came from. Tell my long-time girlfriend I have found Jesus, and that we can be no more (she doesnt have a religion by the way, I guess she is Agnostic, I dont talk to her about these things.)

cont…


#2

…cont

The problem I see with the people who would tell me this, is that to me, in my heart and soul, I believe I have faith. It may differ a bit from someone elses, my beliefs may come from different roots, but I would still consider myself a good person. And, after all, dont these religions all teach us the same basic principles anyway? Am I to stay away from a church, and be unwanted at any Catholic church?
Do I keep believing what I believe and forget about the idea of even trying to set foot in another Catholic church? How will I be viewed? Both by God, and by the other attendees.

I guess if anyone can clear anything up for me, I would really appreciate it. I know what I am, I guess I am just having a hard time explaining it, or putting a label on it. (maybe I dont need to? I dont know?) When people ask what religion I am I normally say I believe in a little bit of a couple different religions, and for me they work well together. Some people understand. Other people turn their nose up at the mere notion that two religions can work simultaneously to provide me with a faith I can work with…

Anyway, please help discuss this! I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

Joe

Edit to add: after reading some of the other posts, I see some of you can be quite harsh. Let me add a bit. When I was young and would ask the Catholic church questions, their reply was that the Bible was never to be taken literally. It was a story like any other, with metaphors as to how to behave as human beings.

When reading the Bible I never took anything literally, from the parting of the Red Seas, to the burning bush… I took it all in as metaphor, rather than an actual occurence, I guess that is what allowed me to believe other things about life as well. Is this wrong, according to the Catholic church?


#3

I wouldn’t worry too much of what others might think of you returning. The priest will likely be thrilled that you’re thinking of coming back. You should either make an appointment to talk to a priest or try to get ahold of one after a mass - he can answer your questions. As for the congregation, I doubt they will really notice anything other than the tatoo, unless you go about telling them of your past transgressions. If you attend a large parish with many masses, then it’s possible that most of the people won’t even realize you are new.

How far along in the sacraments did you get before your parents stopped taking you? Did you have confession, first communion, and confirmation? If you’ve had confession and communion and genuinely wish to return, then all you have to do to make yourself right with the church is go to confession - which can be done anonymously behind a screen. A sincere confession will wipe away all of your sins and give you a fresh start. If you were only baptised, then you should contact the church to see what kind of adult catechism classes they have.

It’s also possible that you can reconcile some of your Buddhist beliefs with Catholicism, since most religions have at least some basic truths.


#4

Welcome! Hope you can get many of your answers here at CAF

Catholics believe that faith is not a one-time occurrence – faith is a journey. Since your baptism, it sounds like you’ve embarked on a journey to seek the Truth. What appears to be drawing you back to the Church is that indwelling of the Holy Spirit that you received at your baptism many years ago. Sure, you’ve traveled down the beaten path – and many times off it. Many of us have. Does that mean that the Church will despise you or reject you? No, by any means!

One of the things that Catholics are very aware of is the mercy and forgiveness of God, so much so that we are given the means to express our repentance to God through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (rejoining again with God). The fact that you realize you have faith is evidence that something inside you is compelling you to act upon it. And you have - through whatever means you felt at the time you needed to go through.

Since you are seeking to find out about the Catholic Church, may I suggest a couple of links:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church - this was published in the late 1980s and it gives a complete and comprehensive explanation of the teachings, beliefs, and doctrines of the Catholic faith.

Catholic Answers Library - on the left-hand side of this page you’ll find topics ranging from God & Christ, Scripture & Tradition, etc. It gives biblical basis for these beliefs (as will the Cathecism - or CCC as we like to call it) along with writings from the Early Church Fathers (people whom the Apostles passed the Faith down to).

One thing to remember - if you are sincere about learning about the Faith, and eventually living it to the best of your abilities, you can never be rejected by God or His Church. By instilling the love of God into your heart, you’ll find things amazingly simple to understand and you’ll be more willing to live it.

I hope this helps just a little bit. God bless.
Tonks40


#5

I must love myself, in order to be loved, right?

Which makes sense considering God is within us all.

I have done confession and first communion. I was very young though. I was in a catholic school until 2nd grade, and then homeschooled through a non-Catholic, Christian program. (Which I didnt like.)

What about sexual relations out of wedlock? Is that still a bad thing? (Given a monogamous relationship between man, and woman.) Is the marriage that is given by the state different from that that is in our hearts? (I would like to believe so.)

Religion was always something very personal to me, and not really something I shared with other people. I guess being on a forum like this makes it easier.

Is it wrong if you dont agree with a certain aspect of the faith, and choose to believe something else? Can you call yourself a Christian? Must you confess this during confession?

For example, If I believe in stem-cell research. (thats a whole seperate discussion, but play along for now)
Nothing can change that belief. Does that make me a non-Christian?

If I dont believe in the States version of marriage, and choose to believe what is in my heart, is that immoral, wrong, or a sin?

If I believe I have the right to kill someone who has threatened the life of me, or someone else, to the point where I believe deadly force is the only option, is that still a sin? Or is my life no more valuable than his?

If these are my beliefs, my TRUE beliefs, that can’t be changed, am I a bad person? Or not Christian?

I am afraid to talk to a Father about this.

P.S. Thank you for the links, Tonks.


#6

Dear Djoseph,

I don’t know whether I am able to answer all your questions. I was also certainly a troubled young man before.(Meaning to say, with the exception of the tattoo, I did most of what you did, only to say I did not finish university (college) because of my restless youth.)

All I can advise you is to take things as they come and one at a time.

I certainly admire you for being openminded to different points of view (on spirtuality and religion). I was brought up a Methodist, then turned agnostic, then went to all forms of Christianity (spirit filled to dry Bible Presbyterian, baptised a christian) before turning Catholic 3 years ago.

In my part of the world, I am grateful that I am able to know people of all faiths (buddhist, hindu, taoism,sikhism,islam etc) Of course there are good, if not outstanding people of these beliefs. Other religions certainly have some degree of truth in them and I am glad that you are able to see it from their point of view (POV).

As a newbie (I joined these forums not too long ago), I have this to say to you: Do not take to heart what these people say. Most of the time they just care about your personal salvation, although
they spout uncharitable remarks. If you really need to ask pressing issues eg doctrinal, moral or theological stuff, go to Ask an Apologist forum or fo to the Q&A forum under the heading FAITH in ewtn.com.If you have been offended by some postings, then I hope you would not be too disheartened. I do also get angry (for a while) at some of the postings too.

As a fellow sinner to a fellow sinner, I am certainly glad that you have such an epiphany at such a tender age of 22 years. I only started my serious questionings at the age of 25 years old. Oh well, thats in God’s time. Any way, I hope that you will never stop persevere in your personal quest for truth.

As for the other people, I guess for me their opinions don’t really matter. If other people see a buddhist monk on your arm in Mass they certainly have their 2 cents worth of opinion. The priest (Father) certainly has an personal opinion. Indeed, I have the experience of my sins not absolved by a priest during confession( he did not say the prayer of absolvement,; I dunno, maybe he forgot or got caught up in his anger or whatever. ) I did get upset and angry but I went and sought other priests for their opinions. After that I was able to see the whole thing in a different light. Most important of all, I learnt that the opinions of God is not necessary through one person (lay parishioners or clergy). You have to understand where they are coming from.

I hope that with the respect you have for your own spirtuality and other religions, that you will be able to walk into a church and listen with an open mind. If you are not comfortable with other people, just sit at the back pews. Try the weekday mass if you are not comfortable with so many people. I do that when I want attention from a priest. Also, it would be helpful if you have a Bible. Most churches should have RCIA co-ordinators with spare Bibles to give(you in the States right?).

As for your concerns of you on your girlfriend, she should be happy that you are tuning in spiritually. From your writings, I feel that you care about people’s feelings and are very in touch with yourself. Just take things as they come and explain it to her slowly. In fact, I think she will be overjoyed to find out they you have such a caring side to you!

As a lost soul (who maybe is deluded or in the best circumstances, not so lost but found by Jesus) to a lost soul, get some sleep over it and do not fret over this too much. Be honest in your questions and never stop trying to ask them.
I don’t believe my prayers are worth much,but nonetheless I pray that people you djoseph meet in Catholic church be kind and patient with you and that you find what you seek in here.

I express my advance sorrow and apology if I upset you. I also express my advance apologies for the opinions of those people of the Catholic community you may feel wronged or upset you.

Thanks and regards,

Joel S.

Former righteous saint, now trying to be a humble sinner.

Quited smoking does not mean I am now better than smokers.

To all catechists and self righteous: Remember Luke 17:1-4.,Jesus has a huge piece of rock waiting for you.

Yes, Gandhi, we Christians suck at following Christ. We are sorry.


#7

Djoseph

Don’t worry too much about what you believe and have believed. You can only start from where you are. Sounds to me like you are in a better place than I was at 30.

Seek the Truth and be willing to believe the Truth as you find it. We are not finished products; It’s a process. (Rome wasn’t built in a day.)

I will pray for you. You are walking in the right direction.


#8

Greetings from Ireland DJoseph!

The road you’ve travelled is probably very similiar to many of us here.
Like you, I dabbled in many different (eastern) religions and never really found what I was looking for in any of them.

The world we live in would have us believe that truth is relative. There is in fact absolute Truth and that Truth was revealed by Jesus Christ to His Apostles. All religions contain elements of truth but it’s the errors that are dangerous - reincarnation being an example.

Re God’s presence within us, this in only possible through baptim. I recently read that what happens in baptism is far creater that the creation of the universe! The world is a material creation of God but baptism makes us sons of God and turns our souls into the “image and likeness of God”. In this sense we are divinized in baptism. At baptism we receive sanctifying grace which raises us far above all of creation and gives us such great dignity. Unfortunately this grace can be easily lost through mortal sin but can be restored through confession and absolution.

To be a follower of Christ means making a personal sacrifice but what we give up is replaced by something far, far greater. We have 3 main enemies in this world. The devil, the world and the flesh.
All 3 draw us away from God and rob us of our true purpose in life which is to do God’s will. And yes fornication is still a mortal sin…

You asked the question “Is it wrong if you dont agree with a certain aspect of the faith”. The answer is an affirmative yes. Because we believe that Jesus “Is the Way, the Truth and the Life” and that this faith was passed to the Apostles and from the Apostles to us, picking and choosing is not an option. To deny a truth taught by the Church is to reject Christ.

If you delve into the Catholic faith, you’ll soon discover that it’s like finding a treasure chest. The truth is wonderful and as Christ said, “The truth shall set you free”. As for finding the answers to all your questions, you’ll find the answers to all your questions in the Catholic Church.

One last thing, if you want to grow closer to God, prayer is the way.There’s a lot to learn about it but ultimately if we’re prepared to live according to the Gospel and persevere in prayer, we can become incredibly close to God.

God bless you in your search!

Noel.


#9

Welcome back, Brother! You were lost and now you are found. It is a time of great rejoicing and celebrating. Reread the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It’s you!

As faith is a journey, you need to know that there will be obstacles.
• The path you are on has Christ and His Kingdom at the end. Keep your eye on Him and follow the Church’s teachings.
• There will be many people, inside and outside of Church, that may lead you astray, sometimes their intentions are well-meaning, sometimes not.
• Know Scripture and the Catechism – that is your armor.
• Beware of dissenting priest and parishes.
• Know where to tow the line. You don’t have to accept every Catholic devotion, mystic, or apparition (like the Charismatics, stigmatisms, or the messages of Fatima). You do have to accept the authority of the Church. That doesn’t mean that visionaries are unreal, but if it makes you feel uneasy, you may not be ready or they may not be true. Know what you need to accept and what you don’t.
• As a rule of thumb: if it doesn’t lead you closer to Christ and His Church – be wary.
• Watch EWTN. There are many wonderful programs to learn about your faith.

Thank you for sharing your story. Keep us informed and may God continue to bless you!
:thumbsup:


#10

Welcome back djoseph! I too strayed from the church in my younger days - in fact for more years than you have lived. (My sins from that time still make me cringe!):o Don’t worry about others opinion of you; it really isn’t important- after all you are responsible for the state of your soul, they aren’t.
A very powerful prayer which helped me is praying the rosary. if you don’t have a rosary or know how to pray it, go to your local priest; he will probably give you a rosary. There are lots of links on the rosary online as to how to pray it- sorry I don’t have one but maybe another poster can help there.
Also check out Fr. Corapi.(www.fathercorapi.com)). His life story is very inspiring and he has some very good cd’s, videos, etc.
As for your tatoo, maybe you can’t erase it, but you can change it. A friend of mine who was into the biker world had a tatoo of the devil, and when he came back to the church, he made it into a picture of St. Michael the Archangel with his foot on the devil and sword poised! So maybe you could have Buddah sitting listening to Jesus, or at the foot of the Cross with tears in his eyes…
So again, glad you are on the journey home, and don’t forget to ask the Holy Spirit for His gifts, especially Understanding and Wisdom.


#11

You do have a lot of questions and I am sure you have many more than you posted.

Let me tell you that Catholicism is all about affirming truth, not just making up stuff as it comes along.
So all truth is of Catholicism, that is really what it is all about.

So as a Catholic I can say yes it is ok to kill someone, under specific circumstances, it cannot be out of hate or evil desires, but out of legitimate Christian love.
Such as defending someone and the person attacking requires me to kill them to stop them.

As a Catholic I can affirm stem cell research as long as it doesn’t harm other people. This is why stem cell research is advocated by Catholics using cord blood or adult stem cell.
(by the way pretty much the only positive results of stem cell research has been from adult cells, why waste your money on destroying human life and never having any positive results)

As a Catholic I can affirm the wisdom of exercise, healthy living, peace with others, nature and other truths taught by Buddism and other Eastern belief systems, those just are not the center of our belief. They can certainly be a part of them as long as they do not negatively impact us.

God bless and feel free to ask questions, many of us have led horribly sinful lives and have come back to Catholicism,
Scylla


#12

djoseph,

I too grew up Catholic and my parents stopped taking me to Mass before I received first communion. I really knew nothing about the Church but discovered Catholicism in college and went through formation, receiving first communion and confirmation the same day!

As Catholics, we believe that there are similarities between religions because God has written His laws on the hearts of men. So there are religious communities that have part of God’s truth, but we also believe that the Catholic Church contains the fullness of truth, since it is the church started by Jesus Christ.

I can totally understand your desire to feel in control. It can be a scary world, and it can be comforting to believe that we have power over what happens to us.

I felt the same way you did and was very upset by the things that were occurring in my life that I had no control over. I began to see that God did not expect me to have all the answers. All He really wanted was for me to follow Him. So I changed my focus. I stopped looking around at the world and what was happening, and I focused my life on God. Doing so has completely changed my life, given me peace and allowed me to, along with God, deal with whatever life throws my way.

Jesus says it best, “Be not afraid!” God has called you to look at His Church and no one should question that. You must follow your journey toward God, and He will meet you wherever you are. I would urge you to be patient with God, since He works on His own time. He will help you, one question at a time. Trust Him and tell Him of your worries about attending Mass. God bless you abundantly on this journey!


#13

Hi djoseph,

Many of us here have travelled paths which make your own journey quite comprehensible to us. I myself left the Church for 30 years before coming home.

I see a couple of key questions in your posts. One seems to be, can you be accepted back into the Church (tatoos and all)? The answer is, yes, without question. There is no barrier to any person, anywhere, who professes the Catholic faith and seeks to join the Church. Whatever it is in your background that you think might be a problem, there are Catholics who have that and worse in their backgrounds. The key here is that God’s forgiveness is greater than any of our pasts.

The second question I sense is whether you can keep having extra-marital sex with your girlfriend. The answer is no. Or, more accurately, the answer is that to do so is a grave sin. There are plenty of threads as to why the Church teaches this, or you can start another one of your own.

Keep in mind that if you return to the Church you should only do so if you believe her to be true. That is, if you believe her claims about God and about herself to be true. If you do believe this, then you will believe her God-received teachings on matters such as extra-marital sex, simply because they are true.

Have to go pick up the kids now. :slight_smile:


#14

Hey OP,

Any other questions?

God bless.


#15

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