I’m a Buddhist. But I went to church and attended Sunday Mass for almost 3 months, 2 years ago. At that moment, whenever I have problems, I would pray to Jesus. I felt much better after talking or praying to Him. I have the thought of converting into a Catholic but my family stand firm on being a Buddhist. Should I convert or just follow my family? What should I go through to be a Catholic?
If you are younger than 18 then follow the advice of your parents. If you are older than 18 consider investigating RCIA after speaking to a priest.
How old are you?
I’m 19 years old. I know that I should be old enough to make my own decision but I’m worried that my family wouldn’t accept that I convert into a Catholic. What should I do?
My dear sister Chelsea
“Nothing is so intrinsically a matter of free will as religion”, said the Church Father Lactantius, and so I rejoice when I see a person who has the courage to follow the dictates of their conscience!
God Bless you dear sister! Stick to your guns, follow the voice of your own conscience always.
I would like you to watch this video. I think it will help.
Its a video where a young Jewish girl tells Saint Josemaria Escriva (9 1902 –1975), the founder of Opus Dei, that her desire to become a Catholic was causing problems with her parents.
Instead of encouraging her conversion, Escriva advised the girl to honor her parents and told her not to convert - but rather to follow the teachings of Christ in her heart, respect her parents good wishes and be patient, and that eventually her parents should come around and allow her to follow her chosen path. The open-mindedness of this man is very powerful and moving. I would advise you too take his advice and apply it in your situation.
Ultimately, your parents must accept your decision of conscience to become Catholic. I would inquire into RCIA and gently pursue studies into the Catholic faith, slowly incoporating elements of Catholic religion into your daily life. Eventually, I am sure that your father and mother will come round to accepting your decision of conscience to become a Catholic. At the moment they are probably under the impression that you are going through a kind of “phase” that you will come out of. As time goes on, and you grow deeper in the Catholic Faith and start to live out the teachings of the religion ie praying the obligatory prayers, then I am sure that your father will understand that your dedication to this religion is sincere and heartfelt.
But this will take time. Don’t rush it.
Perhaps, it would be worthwhile to gently open your father up to the commonalties between Buddhism and Catholicism, as well as the reasons why your attracted to it.
Its not easy for parents of a certain religion to see one of their children pursuing a different path. Buddhism probably is part of your family’s heritage. Go easy on them.
I think the advice applies directly to you as well. It is really a beautiful short video clip.
Here’s the transcript:
In Chile, in 1974, in a gathering of hundreds of people, a Jewish girl asks the Founder of Opus Dei about the Catholic faith.
Jewish Girl: “I’m Jewish, but I believe in the Catholic religion. And I would like… my most fervent wish is to convert to Catholicism, but I am a minor, and my parents won’t let me.”
Saint Josemaria: "Look, I am going to tell you something that will make you very happy. I - and I learned this from this son of mine… I must tell you that the first love of my life is a Jew: Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth - a member of your race! And the second love of my life is Mary most holy, Virgin and Mother, Mother of the Jewish man Jesus, and my Mother and your Mother. Do you like that? And then, I must tell you to be very good toward your parents, to be patient, to pray. Don’t make any gestures of rebellion. Is that clear?
Jewish Girl"Yes, Father".
Saint Josemaria: And the Lord of Nazareth, Jesus the Jew, Jesus the King of all hearts and all wills, will move your parents to let you follow calmly and serenely the path that you already have hidden in your soul, that “vita abscondita cum Christo in Deo” [life hidden with Christ in God, cf. Col. 3:3]. Isn’t that right? Love your parents a lot. OK?
Jewish Girl: “Yes, Father.”
Saint Josemaria: "And in the meantime, go on learning the teachings of Jesus Christ, and pray. Pray, my daughter. You already have your baptism of desire. Pray. And never a word of criticism against your parents. Because this is very clear: you have to love them with all your soul and show it with deeds. OK?
Jewish Girl: “Yes, Father”.
Saint Josemaria: “You will be a good daughter of Christ, if you are a good daughter of your parents. Thank you”.
Remember sister Chelsea that embracing Catholicism does not mean that you reject the religious and cultural traditions, morals and values of your heritage (Buddhism) that are compatible with your new faith. There is obviously inspired truth in Buddhism.
As Pope John Paul II said in his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio”:
"…Peoples everywhere, open the doors to Christ! His Gospel in no way detracts from the human person’s freedom, from the respect that is owed to every culture and to whatever is good in each religion. By accepting Christ, you open yourselves to the definitive Word of God, to the One in whom God has made himself fully known and has shown us the path to himself…The Church opens the doors and becomes the house which all may enter, and in which all can feel at home, while keeping their own cultures and [religious] traditions, provided these are not contrary to the Gospel…Under the impulse of the Spirit, the Christian faith is decisively opened to the “nations”…
It is the Spirit who is the source of the drive to press on, not only geographically but also beyond the frontiers of race and religion, for a truly universal mission…The Spirit’s presence and activity affect not only the individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions. Indeed, the Spirit is at the origin of the noble ideals and undertakings which benefit humanity on its journey through history: “The Spirit of God with marvelous foresight directs the course of the ages and renews the face of the earth”…
I have repeatedly called this fact to mind, and it has guided me in my meetings with a wide variety of peoples. The Church’s relationship with other religions is dictated by a twofold respect: “Respect for man in his quest for answers to the deepest questions of his life, and respect for the action of the Spirit in man.” The interreligious meeting held in Assisi was meant to confirm my conviction that “every authentic prayer is prompted by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in every human heart.”…Every form of the Spirit’s presence is to be welcomed with respect and gratitude, but the discernment of this presence is the responsibility of the Church, to which Christ gave his Spirit in order to guide her into all the truth…"
- Blessed Pope John Paul II (Redemptoris Missio)
Vouthon, thank you very much for the advice. But should I continue attending Sunday Mass?
Can I know what will I have to go through to be a Catholic?
My dear sister Chelsea
Being myself a 19 year old cradle Catholic, I’m not entirely familiar with the actual procedures and process of RCIA, having never gone through it myself. However I know that its quite a length process of learning and discernment. You will be a Catechumenate for roughly around a year, I think, if my memory serves me right. Usually Catechumens are received into the Church at Easter.
You can, of course, attend Holy Mass whenever you like! You do not have to be a baptized Catholic to attend Mass, which is open to everyone who seeks it.
However, I would see how this works with your parents first. I wouldn’t want there to be an friction or arguement caused between you all, unnecessarily. Ultimately you are an adult and must make your own decisions, and your parents have to respect this. If you want to go to Mass, then you should go to Mass because its your right to freely discern your own path in life.
Your desire to become Catholic means that you are, already, in essence a Catholic. Baptism by desire is sufficient to make one a child of the Catholic Church. So my advice is: Don’t sweat it Take your time, read, pray and inquire. Make sure that you really do want to become Catholic and learn, learn, learn.
Also see this:
"…You find yourselves in a world where the majority of your fellow citizens embrace Buddhism, that complex of religious beliefs and philosophical ideas which is rooted in Thai history, culture and psychology, and which profoundly influences your identity as a nation…As people of Thailand you are heirs of the ancient and venerable wisdom contained therein.
How can you as Christians, members of the Catholic Church, who recognize Christ as the Saviour of the world, respond to Christ’s call of discipleship, living, as you do, immersed in a religious environment different from your own?
Sacred Scripture gives insights for an answer to this question. The second reading from the Letter of Saint James speaks of an earthly wisdom which is opposed to “the wisdom from above”, which is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. Your cultural heritage as Thai people is intimately linked to the indigenous Buddhist tradition, which provides a fertile terrain for the seed of God’s word, proclaimed by Jesus Christ, to take root and grow. In the practice of Buddhism can be discerned a noble tendency to strive to separate oneself from an “earthly wisdom”, in order to discover and achieve an interior purification and liberation…Here too, as people who are enriched by the Buddhist tradition of your country, you are endowed with a special sensitivity to the renunciation of violence in the vindication of personal rights, and so the Lord’s injunction to be peacemakers strikes a resonant chord in your minds and hearts, helping you not to fall victim to the many temptations to violence that haunt the world…"
- POPE JOHN PAUL II (Homily) National Stadium of Bangkok (Thailand) Thursday, 10 May 1984
The Catholic Church tells us:
“…From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense. Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language…Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men…The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men…”
- Nostra Aetate, Declaration of the Church on Non-Christian religions, 1965
Our Holy Father John Paul II once said:
“I would like to confirm with the deepest conviction that the teaching of the church, given during the Second Vatican Council in the declaration Nostra Aetate … always remains for us, for the Catholic Church, for the episcopate … and for the pope, a teaching to which one must adhere, a teaching which one must accept not only as something relevant but even more, as an expression of faith, as an inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as a word of divine wisdom” (Speech to the Jewish community in Venezuela, Jan. 15, 1985).
The Nostra Aetate statement above on Buddhism is thus divinely inspired. So let us work from there: Holy Mother Church has given us guidance direct from the Holy Spirit on the nature of Buddhism, and it is a religion worthy of great respect for all that is true and divinely inspired in it. You are also to “recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values” found in Buddhism. By becoming Catholic you do not have to reject your rich Buddhist heritage!
Being a convert, a former atheist and nominal pagan, I can tell you that the formal conversion process in my own life caused tension with only one member of my family, a ‘wiccan.’ However, my relationships with many non-familial relations were damaged. It wasn’t so much that I encountered hostility, but marked discomfort. Obviously, I’m not a buddhist from Melaka either so I can’t tell you how your cultural antecedents will react to your decision, should you elect to make it. You’ll have to go through RCIA. The Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults. It is a Catechism Class, essentially, you will learn the tenets of Catholicism. Each class I attended consisted of andatory readings from the Adult’s Catechism, Scriptural indoctrination and discussion. There were several videos, a multitude of chances for questions asked and conversation with the Priest involved.
There are several rites which you shall undergo as I did. Among them should be: the Signing of the Book of the Elect, wherein your signature is added to a book and presented to the Bishop at the Rite of Election. The Rite of Election essentially means that the Church has accepted you and that all you await thereafter is Baptism. At one point there is the Laying of the Hands, a minor exorcism, and a blessing from the Congregation. All require Mass attendance for to function. I was asked to attend a Chrism Mass in which the oils of the Catechumens were blessed. Lastly there came Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist, all of which were performed in one night on the Easter Vigil. Baptism entails having water poured over one’s head three times in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. After this there was Confirmation, where I and the other Baptised gave solemn oaths promising to resist the glamour of evil and the attacks of Satan. Then came First Eucharist. Of course, I’m a Yankee and everything I have described is a part of the American RCIA, there may be a different order of things elsewhere. Although, to be fair, I rather doubt much changes wherever you are. The core of the ritual should remain the same.
There is a stigma attached to being Catholic as our ethical conscience and moral soul appear radically at odds with the norms and mores of the World, but if you feel so compelled to be Baptised in the Name of Jesus than don’t let minor inconveniences stop you. Unless you feel your physical wellbeing is in jeopardy, I would most certainly take the plunge and wet your feet in the Tiber.
With all those and other blah-blahs considered, the Conversion process was the best decision I ever made. That decision has opened up many oppurtunities for me since. I’m sure I don’t have to sell you on the Faith, but there is a feeling of family, a feeling distinct from actual family. It’s a strange thing, but enirely welcome. Anyway, I hope my discombobulated rant has been of some minor comfort to you.
I say that by all means should you convert. It’s not always easy doing the right thing, especially if your family differs from your decision. Christianity us not supposed to be an easy way of living that’s why Many do not want to be Christians.
My advice to you is to pray to God and ask him to help you with your decision. Pray that he give you strength and guidence. Praying to Mary and asking her to help you is great as well.
My second advice to you is to read stories about some of the saints that faced the same decision as you. Many saints were converts from paganism and from other religions.
Some saints are
Saint Paul- Jewish convert who used to persecute Christians
Saint Augustine- convert from debauchery
Saint Francis of Assisi- convert from a rich life.
This is a great story and about a great way of evangelizing
The Holy Spirit is calling you into the Catholic Church. You should go to your local Catholic Parish and ask to speak with a priest. He will be in the best position to guide you, answer your questions and help you deal with any objections from your family.
Are you nineteen, Vouthon? I’m impressed by your maturity.
I think it’s great you want to become a Christian. And I admire your loyalty to your family. I think the best recourse is what many have said, contact a priest and ask what is the best course at this point.
God bless you, I will be praying for you.
I 100% believe that this is exactly what is happening right now!!!
It takes a while to become a Catholic, formally. I had been ‘told’ that all you had to do was front up to a priest and say you wanted to be Catholic. He would make the sign of the cross over you and say “Domine, Domine, Domine” and that would be it.
In actuality, it took closer to 2 years. That was from my initial inquiry. From reading other’s experiences, that is about average. You will have plenty of time to reconcile this with your parents.
The Church will not let you rush into this.
You can call your local parish priest and inquire about RCIA courses. Chances are the next ones are beginning in September. They may have other courses on offer to learn about the faith while you wait for RCIA to begin.
In the meantime, you can learn about some things from the tracts available on Catholic Answers. If you look at the top of the page, there is a link to Catholic. com, the home site for these forums. From there click on Read… Tracts and select.
How to Become a Catholic
Things people go through, or the process of becoming Catholic as an adult can vary a little from place to place. After you speak with the parish priest wherever you live, the process generally requires you attend some meetings or classes where you will learn about the beliefs of the Catholic relgion. Right now you have a sense that you want to be Catholic, but before you can make a final decision you need to learn more about the religion, so you do not make a mistake. You will probably have questions about many things and enjoy learning about the Catholic faith.
The most important thing to know is that God made you and loves you and wants you to be with Him forever.
If you learn about the Catholic faith and decide you believe what you learn and want to enter the Church you will be baptized and confirmed and receive Holy Communion, which you already know a little about from attending Masses.
Baptism and Confirmation are the sacraments of initiation, that make you belong to the Church and the Church belong to you. When a person is baptized the priest pours some water on her head and says prayers. When a person is confirmed sometimes the priest does this and sometimes the bishop does it. The person will be annointed with blessed oil and there are some prayers.
God bless you on your spiritual journey.
Yep I am indeed my dear friend
Be assured that you are in my prayers as you seek to follow Our Lord’s call on your life.
And, Vouthon, I agree: You are , my friend. And at 19, yet!!