Want to reconnect with Church but have Buddhist family - help?

I’m 22 of Australian-born Chinese background and I come from a Buddhist family. My parents regularly visit the temple (I go with them sometimes). When I was 12, I along with my mum and sister got baptised into the Church with the intention of enrolling at our local Catholic high school.

During my 6 years in high school, I was obviously exposed to the Catholic faith on a daily basis and I (along with a few others) simply ‘played along’ during prayer and mass as we had no solid knowledge of what to do and I kept secret the fact my family were Buddhist from my friends and classmates who were of course, ‘real’ practicing Catholics. I was worried it would alienate me if they found out… it is wrong to identify with more than one religion and I don’t want to continue with this.

Back then, I cared very little about religion and praying. I just played along at the temple as well. However, as the years went by, I started to have a deep appreciation the Catholic faith and felt a real connection as it is the one religion I could understand (since it’s in English) and I have the most knowledge about, as opposed to Buddhism which is in Chinese and I know relatively little about its teachings. I felt I belonged to a strong circle.

I graduated high school in 2009 and since have stopped attending mass and praying (as the only mass I attended was with school). This has made me feel really disconnected and I’m missing something in life, as my faith has become apart of who I am and it reminds me of the connection I once felt with my friends and peers in school.

I have decided for good that Catholicism is the faith I wish to adopt - I have always been telling people I am ‘Catholic’ whenever I get asked despite my family’s background. To me, I don’t Buddhism as a religion at all (I don’t hear any mention of ‘God’ from them as far as I know) and the main figure is Buddha (who was a human being) so these past few years, on the occasions I go to the temple with my parents, I go to it as a Chinese ‘culture’ thing in mind and pray with the incense sticks like others.

In the future, if I have children, I wish to raise them Catholic which means breaking from past tradition and taking the family on a new path. Since I want to be a real Catholic, should I break myself from Buddhism completely or can I incorporate parts of it as merely a “cultural” thing? Can one live both beliefs in harmony? There are times where my mum says she agrees with some teachings of Catholicism (she has attended mass in Vietnamese before). Should I try to sway her into giving up Buddhism too?

Last night on Christmas Eve, I took my parents out to see the Lights of Christmas show at St Mary’s Cathedral and we went inside for a quick look. I then took the opportunity to ask if they wanted to stay back for midnight mass but they declined, which really disappointed me as we walked back out. I wanted to stay back and/or attend the Christmas mass at my home parish the following day instead but I don’t want them to wonder ‘what has gotten into him’ since I have never really showed any interest in religion (what they think at least).

What are some things I should do to if I wish to reconnect with the Church? I feel I do have bits and pieces to patch up.

Thanks for reading this and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. God bless.

You are an adult now and need to make your own decisions. You can, hopefully, lead your mother and sister to the truth of Christ.

You need to talk to a Catholic priest. If you have been baptized, confirmed, and received first communion, you only need to make a good Confession to return to the Church. It sounds as though you might need some study of Church teaching that you missed. Start reading the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ or the shorter ‘Compendium of the Catechism’, both available free online.

Some aspects of Buddhism, such as reincarnation, are incompatible with Christianity. However, there are many millions of oriental Christians who find their culture compatible with the Church.

You said on your profile that you are “Catholic”. Have you been baptized? If not, as an adult, you would need to go through Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

As to continuing to attend Buddhist services, I think God could view that as a form of idolatry, false gods, people bowing to Buddha, etc.

If you could sway your parents towards Catholicism, that would be great, but it didn’t sound like they seemed receptive, unless maybe it was because midnight is a little late. You know your family best, if they are receptive or not.

If they are not receptive, maybe it’d be best to wait and work on yourself at the moment, getting yourself fully into the Church, first.

The first sacrament we receive is baptism, next would be reconciliation/confession, next would be the First Holy Communion, then Confirmation.

Yes, there are many differences between Catholicism and Buddhism as you were saying. That’s correct. In Buddhism, there doesn’t seem a reference to the word “God”. In Catholicism, we talk a lot about God.

Well, I know we are supposed to go to mass, weekly and on Holy Days of Obligation.

As to parents and families, consider Christ’s words:

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; Matthew 10:37.

Some tenets of Buddhism are almost strangely similar to Catholicism (especially many of the moral teachings), and some practices resemble the practice of Eastern Catholic (and of course Orthodox) monks. Yet, the metaphysics and belief system overall is largely incompatible. But as always, you should “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Some people would reject anything that is Buddhist simply on the grounds of being Buddhist - that is, in my opinion, not very Catholic.

As regards explaining your choice to other Buddhists: If I’ve understood correctly, many, if not most, Buddhists view Christ as a bodhisattva, i.e. (again, if I understand correctly - I’m not a scholar of Buddhism) an enlightened being who dedicated His life to leading others toward enlightenment. Of course, in the Christian view, He is much more than that. But to a Buddhist, it should be perfectly acceptable that you choose to follow His path. Sometimes, explaining your choice within the other’s horizon of understanding makes the choice more understandable. If that made any sense. Perhaps it could also give that person an interest in Christianity, leading to conversion - remember that St. Paul used the language/world view of the Greeks when he spoke at Areopagus.

Hi Danz91.

I am new on this forum and did actually only intend to answer on little thread and then leave but now I find I get caught in others as well.

I am born a Sri Lankan Buddhist and I think I understand your question somewhat. In Sri Lanka buddhism and christianity is not only a question of faith but also a cultural belonging. I guess it is the same with you? But it is still hard to understand all the implications of you comming clean with your family and friends.

It sounds like a very big deal to you? Why is that? Do you expect them to be disappointed?

Never the less I would suggest you do tell your parents about it at least and if it was I making the decision in Sri Lanka I would tell my friends too. I guess I would expect some friendly “Oh noo’s” and maybe some banter after, but they are family and friends after all and as such they would (and should) accept my choice.

I know that I would like my sons to tell me if they had something heavy weighing on their minds. Its good not to have such things between yourself and your family and (true) friends.

I hope you appreciate this advice from a buddhist. Viewing it from the “other side”.

Cheer up! It is never as bad as one thinks when pondering things in the loness of ones gloom.

Posted this in both threads…


As for swaying your parents. I would say “What for”!? lol.

Remember that Catholicism expects the faithful to evangelize (but not proselytize, that’s an important distinction) others. I can see why that is difficult to understand from a Buddhist point of view, though :slight_smile:

Naa not really. I totally understand the christian perspective grounded in love (and Bible) and also the behavioral implications. (Or so I delude myself) :slight_smile:

Actually I am somewhat touched every time a christian makes the effort to talk to me about Jesus and Salvation. I think it shows true compassion and caring towards me.

And often those discussions end fruitfully for both parties. Not that I am going to get converted or anything but it is always heartening to find mutual ground.

A foundation for moral and ethical behavior is better than none.


Your attitude is commendable. I have to admit I’m generally annoyed when Protestants make the same effort towards me, even though I know their intention is generally good :slight_smile:

I have one friend from each “camp” (I mean true and adamant belivers). Whatever they think of one anothers Faith I am convinced that God would have to be a nutter not to accept either of my friends into His company when that time comes.

And I am pretty sure He is not a nutter. :D.


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