Is participating in this certain Buddhist ritual a sin?


Hello again,

 My mom is a Catholic and my dad is a Catholic/Buddhist (yes, both) but he does this Buddhist ritual more than once every year.  In it, my family prepares a bunch of food and sets it on the table(s).  After so, my dad waves a stick that's lit on one end(I don't know what it's called. An incense stick?) and asks for our deceased family to come and feast on the food(I believe he's praying to Buddha).  Whenever he does this, however, he almost always call for my sister and I to take part in asking (Buddha?) for my deceased family to come eat the food.  My mom says that it's only a thing of remembrance though.  I don't believe  that my deceased family actually comes to my house and eats the food, and I don't believe that Buddha can do any of that stuff.  I only do it because I'm forced to and if I don't do it, my dad will most likely bring trouble.

So I’m wondering if it’s a sin to take part of this even though I don’t believe in it or anything like that? If it is, then could you also give me advice on what to do?

Thank you!:smiley:


This sounds like the hungry ghost festival. Ghosts return to earth at this time and the family must welcome their departed relatives. I don’t know the Church’s teaching on it, but no I don’t think the prayers are to Buddha. I beilieve that they are requests to the spirits to be at peace.


I would avoid any practice that calls on the dead to come join you, whether it is for a dinner or a seance. I think it is best to excuse yourself from participating in this ritual. There is potential for inviting in the demonic with that one.


First of all, it’s pretty much impossible for your father to claim to be a Catholic and a Buddhist. No man can serve two masters, as Our Lord said. The two worldviews that are promoted by Catholicism and Buddhism are mutually exclusive, that is, they’re incompatible with one another. Your father needs to make a choice as to who he will serve: Buddha or Christ.

As far as you sinning by participating in this ritual, it depends on how much of your own freewill is involved in the situation. If you live under your father’s roof as a minor, and he is forcing you to participate, I wouldn’t say that you are sinning, as long as you keep your participation to a bare minimum. If your mother is a Catholic, I don’t understand why she is allowing this to take place in her home. The Church provides us with many prayers with which to commemorate the faithful departed, and there is absolutely no reason to resort to paganism and superstition.

What you can do is pray for your family, those living and those who have died. The Holy Rosary is an excellent way to do this, and Catholic Answers has many great resources on the Rosary and other traditional and truly Catholic prayers.


There’s a lot of great spirituality in Eastern thought. Christianity itself came from the Near East. Personally, I’m not into religion-mixing. The Church teaches that it constitutes ‘disparity of cult’, and that it’s a bad idea.


Your dad cannot be both. He is one or the other.


It is a very debatable iffy situation. In Chinese (and some other eastern countries) tradition/beliefs (not necessarily Buddhist) food is offered to the deceased, so they can be fed in the afterlife. Some believe that if this is done regularly good fortune with accompany this.

As Catholics, we know that food can not be given to the dead, and we know that the dead will not help us get rich for food. This is a form of superstition that we know is not true and contrary to our faith.

However, as Catholics, we believe that the dead are in Heaven (hopefully) and we can and often do pray for their release from sin and punishment. And if they are in Heaven we may pray for their intercession.

Personally, I do not think it is wrong to show respect for our parents or other relatives who have passed away, as long as we know that no action will help us achieve good fortune and they can not really partake in a meal for the dead.

The big difference between Chinese beliefs and Christian belief is the recognition of God as the source of all power, goodness, respect etc. IF we attribute power or glory to our ancessors without God then that is wrong. But if we acknowledge respect for our ancessors with the full knowledge and belief that God is the sole source and the only being deserving of power and respect, then I think that is okay. (to me that is similar to acknowleding respect for the saints- although our ancessors are not offically saints as such)

I think if you keep in mind the statement in the Mass “All power and glory are yours, Almighty Father”, then I think you can’t go wrong.


Honor your father, and ask him respectfully whether him forcing you and bringing trouble comes from his Christian or Budhist side.


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