So, here’s a little background for this. I’m 16 years old (17 in 12 days). I’m a girl. I was raised believing in God and that God loves everyone, and that’s pretty much the extent of it. I was, for all intents and purposes, non-religious. For the past few years I’ve been struggling with the religion issue. I keep feeling pulled to God and Christianity. However, once I tried, it was hard to get into it. My “science and logic” upbringing took over every time. This past weekend, while visiting my grandfather in another state, I decided to go to their local church. It’s a small church, where everyone knows each other, and they all knew who I was. I was baptized there as a baby. It wasn’t a Catholic Church, but a Methodist one. I much enjoyed the message of God and Jesus and I started to tear up with emotion. This also happens to me every time I pray. I get very emotional and I start to cry. Not sobbing, just tears. As it was the 1st Sunday of the month, they had communion, which Methodists do with grape juice instead of wine due to their anti-alcohol beliefs. It was nice and all, but the communion didn’t feel real. I didn’t feel Jesus when I ate the bread dipped in grape juice. I started to think that perhaps most Christian denominations are not practicing fully, or are half-"butt"ing it, if that makes sense. I felt like Catholics were the only ones who were doing it fully, with all the sacraments and the proper communion, etc. Since then, I’ve been thinking that I may feel the most spiritually satisfied in a Catholic Church, where nothing is passed over or forgotten. I very much would like to join the Catholic Church, however as a 16 year old I think I can’t do RCIA, since I’m a minor. My family wouldn’t be converting with me either. I have a few Catholic friends, so I could potentially ask them to bring me to church with them, but they can’t convert me of course. How can a teen properly convert to Catholicism and be recognized by the church as a real Catholic?
I’m going to jump in because I have a lot of Methodist family (including my mother) and feel a certain kinship with their spirituality.
Your best bet would be to attend some Masses to get an idea of what Catholicism is like - speak to your parents, of course, as you are still under their authority while you are a minor, but there is no reason you can’t attend Mass if they’re on board. You also should be able to convert if you decide to, just be in touch with your local Catholic Church’s pastor and he should be able to help you. Your Baptism as a Methodist “counts” in the Catholic Church, but you’ll have to wait on the other Sacraments until you’ve had whatever catechesis your local church deems necessary. You are not automatically barred from the RCIA program just because you aren’t a “legal adult” (unless for some reason your local parish says so, which I feel would be unusual).
If for some reason your parents are adverse to your desire to explore Catholicism, you are still able to immerse yourself in the spirituality and piety of the Church on your own (praying the rosary or the Divine Office on your phone, watching Mass online at livemass.org or EWTN.com, reading the Scriptures and other Church writings, learning about devotions to saints, and speaking to God through inner prayer daily). Then, when you are old enough to follow your own way, you will be all the more prepared for your formation as a Catholic.
Know that the draw you are feeling towards Christianity and the Church is not merely an intellectual one, nor merely an emotional one; it is the grace of God acting on your soul leading you to your Home. Rejoice in your Baptism - you have already died and risen with Christ, and nothing can take that mark on your soul away from you. Listen to the Spirit speaking within you with a faithful heart, and He will guide you.
You are right in thinking that the Methodists don’t have the “real thing” when it comes to the Eucharist - but the reason for that is not because it makes you feel (or not feel) a certain way. The Sacraments are sources of sanctifying Grace, and the Eucharist is substantially the Body, Blood, Soul, and Godhead of Jesus - only those he has given authority (His priests) are able to consecrate it. Some Methodists believe that they are truly receiving Jesus in communion, but Catholics do not believe that Methodist minister are ordained to the priestly ministry of the Church. When I was younger and didn’t know better, I would go to communion at both Catholic and Methodist church. Neither made me “feel” anything, but only one has strengthened me in my spiritual life.
(Since I have some Methodist background, I’ll just throw in that most Methodists aren’t anti-alcohol. The reason they decided to use grape juice had more to do with giving alcoholics an opportunity to have communion.)
I will pray for you as you trace your journey home. If you trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, He will surely bring you where you need to be.
The first question would be what your parents think of the matter. If they are not opposed, you could contact a local parish and see what they have for someone your age (it might be Right of Christian Initiation of Adults - RCIA) or another program.
If your parents are opposed, you will need to wait until you are an adult to join (and by adult, I am not restricting it to age 18 - for example, if you should stay at home and go to a local college).
I would suggest two books to you, either way. The first is Catholicism, A Journey to the Heart of the Faith, by Robert Barron (who is now a bishop). It is not a catechetical work; that is , not designed to teach you the doctrines and disciplines of the Church. In it, he states: “What I propose to do in this book is to take you on a guided exploration of the Catholic world, but not in the manner of a docent, for I am not interested in showing you the artifacts fo Catholicism as though they were dusty objects d’art in a museum of culture. I want to function rather as a mystagogue, conducting you ever deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation in the hopes that you might be transformed by its power.”
Another book which is more catechetical in nature is Catholicism for Dummies, written by two priests, and quite readable.
God bless you on your journey.
Thank you so much for the response, Catholic4Christ! I’m so glad to hear that RCIA is available for teens. I thought that my baptism was considered valid, but it’s good to have that confirmed. However, is it possible to be re-baptized? I was a baby when I was baptized, so I don’t remember it, and it doesn’t feel like it’s enough since I couldn’t believe in God and baptism as a baby, if that makes sense.
Otjm- thanks for the response! My mom would likely be on board with whatever I want, and my dad probably wouldn’t care all that much either way. I’ll try to check out those books!
I did, with parent’s approvals at 17. Was exposed to Catholicism by friends, neither parent was religious, although I have a Baptist family background. 1973 when i entered the Church.
Catholics do not believe that an already-valid Baptism can be repeated - the power of Baptism comes not from how strong our faith is. On the contrary, we baptize infants so that the grace of the Sacrament will strengthen their faith as they age.
That being said, there will be plenty of ritual and sacramental rites for you to participate in when/if you join the Church. Since you are already Baptized, you will probably be asked to go to confession before you are confirmed. Confession is the sacrament that renews the soul, returning it to its baptismal purity after we have sinned. As a convert, you would probably be brought into the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass (the Saturday night before Easter Sunday). There is a part of the Easter Vigil in which converts are initiated into the Church through a profession of faith, Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. You have already been baptized, but you would be Confirmed (which seals you with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, sort of “completing” your Baptism - I did this as a 19 year old college freshman) and receive your First Communion. So even though you wouldn’t get “re-baptized,” the slew of new sacraments for you to receive will more than make up for your desire to remember your entrance into the faith. Just remember that the graces they confer on your soul (which will strengthen your faith) are more important than our ability to remember them. Most Catholics (though not myself, for unusual reasons) are baptized as babies, but they are no less Catholic than a convert who is baptized as an adult. In fact, many Catholics in the eastern churches confer Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion on newborns all on the same day! This is not denying them the experience, but rather strengthening them for the Christian life ahead.
Pulvis- that’s so encouraging to hear!
C4C- oh ok, that makes me feel better. Thank you
If your folks are ok with it, you could start RCIA, I imagine. There is not an age floor for RCIA; it is just for those who are no longer of CCD age.
If it is not ok to them, you may have to wait until you are 18.
Either way, pray and do penance!
The Church does have a catechism that they created especially for teens and young adults called YouCat.
I never read YouCat myself (although I have heard good things), but I did read The US Catholic Catechism for Adults when I was in RCIA as a 19 year old (so not significantly older than you).
Also worth noting if you didn’t know: if you are unsure about Catholicism, you are still allowed to join RCIA as an opportunity to learn more about the Church. Eventually the time will come to decide whether you want to continue, but going to the meetings to learn is a good starting point.
Go to RCIA. If your parents disapprove do not go to RCIA.
Really, you should read about the lives of some saints. Butler’s Lives of the Saints is readily available, on line, free of charge.
If you are to be Catholic, and your baptized Christian parents are opposed, this creates a problem and a schism. Catholicism is based on “We,” not “I.”
Though there are many saints, I am thinking of St Catherine of Alexandria, or even St Lucy who had to defy their parents for their faith, if your parents are Christian, who is there to defy?
Being “right” is NOT the most important thing. Read Rerum Novarum. This is a very Catholic worker and family position. In fact it’s an encyclical, which gives it GOBS of weight.
Really, do not defy your family to join the Church. Do some novenas to saints you trust. There isn’t an age, but you must be careful, there’s a commandment or two that deal with family.
And if all goes right, your family will join the Church.
Don’t poo-poo this, unless you do not believe in miracles.
…And welcome to the Church, even if you never receive Eucharist.
Hi there, and congratulations on your journey towards Roman Catholicsm.
A couple of minor points; first is that technically someone who is already baptized is not “converting” to Catholicism, rather joining the Roman Catholic Church. Conversion is the journey from a non-Christian state of being to Christian I affirm your thoughts on not feeling the fullness of the Sacraments in the Methodist service.
Second, I find it interesting when people speak of “science and logic” as a reason to deny the Church. Following Church teaching and Scripture brings one to a place of logic and reason (in addition to science).
I am enthused for you on your desire to grow closer to God. In addition to the resources already mentioned, reading the Gospel according to John is a great place to learn who Jesus says He is.
May God bless you on your journey. Please keep us posted.
You’re in the right place. In this day and age there are many resources available to you if you want to examine what the church is about. Even in the odd case that you are unable to attend Mass, there are churches that stream them online. Also, this forum, YouTube (If you haven’t heard Mother Angelica, type her name into YouTube and some of her programs should pop up). EWTN streams online and I know there are podcasts of Catholic Answers, Called to Communion and other apologetics based shows (I think they are on the Immaculate Heart Radio site). There’s a wealth of information out there for you to learn and explore. God bless you on your journey.
As a fellow female teen in Catholicism (or nearly in Catholicism. ), I highly suggest looking into Challenge clubs or LifeTeen.com. They may help you form a stronger Catholic network so you can find out more, faster. Otherwise, go with with the other posters said. Feel free to private message me! God bless!
Is that true that if the Catholic Church recognizes your baptism as valid, you are not really a convert? you “join” the church?
I am going to start attending Mass regularly this July. I plan to start the RCIA process the same week I start attending or shortly thereafter, and I am 16 aswell, and from what Ive seen RCIA for teens is fine, and I would have no problems converting being a Minor. This may vary from church to church, but the most they would ask of you probably is parent signature/permission to convert. but I don’t know. Best of Luck in your conversion to His Church. I’m so glad I finally made up my mind about converting, and look forward to this July.
No, the Church recognizes baptism with most Protestant communities as valid, presuming they use the Trinitarian formula ("I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit) and use water - immersion being fine, as well as pouring water over the head. And most (including the Methodists) do this.
I can understand your feelings; I was a sponsor for a woman joining the Church this Easter, and she felt the same way, even though she had been baptized in the Assembly of God community.
Part of the Nicene Creed which we recite and Mass each Sunday says “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins”.
No-one is rebaptized if their original baptism was valid, which is true for most Protestants (Mormons, JWs and a few others are exceptions; the priest in charge of your RCIA will know what the exceptions are).
Not remembering your baptism is normal, as most Catholics were baptized as infants. The importance of baptism is not water on the skin, nor a recollection in the head, but a mark on the soul.