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Catholics -- how do you feel about this?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I hope this is OK to ask here, and I want to word it carefully so as not to offend anyone or start an argument...

How do you feel about regularly participating in events/traditions/ceremonies of other faiths?

My family is Catholic. DH & I are very happy with our choice of religion and we are raising DS Catholic as well. I feel it is my duty as his parent to raise him this way, and I realize at some point his faith will ultimately be his decision, but it's important to me to establish a firm foundation for him.

I am fascinated by other religions and enjoy attending other services and ceremonies for educational purposes or to support others (i.e. wedding/funeral/rite of passage). I don't really see a problem with that. What I'm a bit conflicted about is attending regular gatherings for personal (though non-religious) fulfillment.

Our community is non-Christian -- our closest friends span the gamut from non-religious to Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, UU, etc., but none are Christian or Catholic. We love our friends & they are our chosen family. As a group, many of us are really interested in meditation and things like that... I want to join in on the activities and gatherings but I am worried that it might be inappropriate to get too into other faiths (mainly Buddhism) and confuse my toddler (or myself!)

I don't want to be Buddhist and don't agree with all of it but there are aspects I really like about it and I guess I want to just take what makes sense to my family & mentally leave the rest behind. This would not take the place of Catholicism in our lives... I view our participation in Buddhist events (retreats etc. I'm just using Buddhism as an example) more on a physical & community level than a spiritual level, because spirituality has a different meaning for me and is focused on God. On one level, I feel like it's no different than going to story time at the library or a concert or something -- just something we do for enjoyment & to be with others. But on another level, I know this is a religion for many. I don't want to offend any Buddhists by my participation. I don't want to confuse DS with all this. I don't want to lose sight of my purpose here on earth. I'm not sure if I'm making sense. I just wanted to get an idea of how others feel about this.
post #2 of 10

My personal feeling is that any kind of personal fulfillment that I think I could get at say a Buddhist meditation retreat, I could get by going on retreat at a Catholic monastery, or spending time in adoration or volunteering with a pro life group, soup kitchen or the local shelter.  If it's spending time with friends that are of another religion, there is always secular events like bbqs, dinner parties, concerts, movies ect to connect with them. 

 

 

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post

My personal feeling is that any kind of personal fulfillment that I think I could get at say a Buddhist meditation retreat, I could get by going on retreat at a Catholic monastery, or spending time in adoration or volunteering with a pro life group, soup kitchen or the local shelter.


See I agree with this in theory, but in reality there just aren't family-friendly things like this in our area. I've yet to find a Catholic retreat for families, and can't do most volunteer work with a toddler, etc. I wish there were more available to us here. greensad.gif
post #4 of 10

You may want to explore more along the lines of mystical prayer.  I can understand your desire for community.  I feel a significant lack in that area of my life, too.  I strongly believe that God created us for community, to be in communion with Him and with each other.  But I think focusing more on that community when it is not connected (and in some ways in conflict with) Christ and His Church may be asking for trouble.  There is a blogger I used to read extensively who felt pulled to Jewish customs, and really did end up almost losing his faith for awhile over it.  He re-examined where this was leading him and chose to stay Catholic, eventually going on to seminary.  I'm just saying, it is wise that you are considering the possibilities that you might send conflicting messages to your child(ren).  

post #5 of 10

There are three viewpoints on this topic:

1) As Catholics, we should not attend the religious ceremonies and gatherings of non-Catholics

2) Occassionally attending religious ceremonies of non-Catholics is permissable for "family" events- weddings and funerals.  Maybe even baptisms/christenings/dedications.

3) There is nothing wrong with attending the religious ceremonies of non-Catholics.

 

I personally fall between #1 and #2.  If it is a close family member and my non-attendence will cause more problems than anything else, I will attend.  I do not, however, attend the non-Catholic communities of my non-Catholic family members while I am visiting.  I attend the local Catholic church, and they attend their church.

 

IMHO- a parent can unintentially spiritually harm a child by exposing them to the religious practices of non-Catholics.  It can confuse them and lead them ot think that all Christian and non-Chrisitan communities are equal, when they are not.  Non-Catholic Christians have an incomplete faith, while Catholics have the complete faith.  Non-Christians may have bits of the Truth, but they lack the fullness of Truth.

Again, IMHO- why damage the spiritual development of your child by exposing them to unneccessary spiritual influence?

 

Lastly, IMHO- I thought that my area lacked the things you are looking for.  Once I joined various Catholic boards and started attending "meet-ups" and chatting with people I learned were local to me, I found that there were far more family activities than I ever imagined.

Relying on your local parish and diocese of family activities is limiting.  Try joining various Catholic boards- you will expand your own knowledge of the Faith, meet others who share your Faith, and allow you to get together in person with people near you.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am on a Catholic board & have visited most of the surrounding parishes in our area but it's just... I don't know. There's not much here. Maybe I'm still looking in the wrong places. I checked meetup for local groups too, but there was nothing within 50 miles. I've never had any real friends that were Catholic in my whole life, despite growing up in an active Catholic church. IDK, maybe I'm just weird or something.

We did go to a nearby church that has youth Mass in the evenings, which was nice -- better music & all -- but it still lacks the sense of community. And we are Eucharistic ministers at our own church so then we'd have to go to Mass twice in one day which is a bit much for DS.

But after attending another Buddhist event recently, I don't know that I really feel comfortable regularly bringing DS to that. He loves it because basically he just runs around with his little friends and we sing nature songs. I don't have any issue with that (I think it's great!) but I am uncomfortable with the whole Nirvana thing and stuff like that. It ends up being such a small part of the event -- maybe 5 minutes total of uncomfortable stuff -- but I don't want to confuse DS. Maybe we will just stick to once or twice a year. greensad.gif

I guess I feel like so much of Buddhism appeals to me on multiple levels, and I get along with the people so well. They are almost all naturally-minded, peaceful, happy, there are even tons of vegetarians/vegans so I can eat the food at our gatherings (minor lol but still!! that's a rarity for me!) Then I go to church and I just feel lost. I agree whole-heartedly with pretty much everything Catholicism teaches, but I just have a lot of trouble connecting with the community, and enjoying & being mentally present for Mass while trying to keep DS calm, and the old-people music!!!! It seems like it's almost all older families and I don't feel like I have anything in common with them besides a shared religion.
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

 I am uncomfortable with the whole Nirvana thing and stuff like that. It ends up being such a small part of the event -- maybe 5 minutes total of uncomfortable stuff -- but I don't want to confuse DS.


Is there a way for you to look at the Nirvana stuff as being different words of the same idea of some part of Catholicism?

 

I follow yoga as a spiritual path, so I'm neither catholic or Buddhist, but I'm fascinated by those points in religious teaches where different traditions say pretty much the same things but in different words. The fruits of the spirit, for example, are listed in the Bhagavad Gita as how a person behaves once they have fully experienced god. To me, it makes that list more interesting, more real. It doesn't detract from either the bible or from Hindu tradition, but rather points to some ultimate truth that goes beyond how individuals attempt to understand and explain the divine.

 

To me, it sounds that the Buddhist gatherings are meeting a clear need for you that in spite of seeking it out within your home religion, isn't met there. I think that as mothers, its easy to completely deny our own needs and put "what is best for our kids" to such a high priority that we ultimately end up empty, feeling like we having nothing left to give. 

 

However you decide to worship, it should feed your soul.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
I think I feel *I* am vulnerable too right now, and that's part of the problem. This is meeting a need for me but I'm not sure if it's the direction I want to go. I haven't ever really fully explored other religions and maybe that's something I need to do at some point, but I want to do it when I'm feeling strong, not... this. You know?

I am also really intrigued about how similar different religions are -- just for ex., the story of Siddhartha's birth compared with Christ's birth. Things like that fascinate me. I guess the thing about Nirvana and some of the other Buddhist philosophies is that their goal seems to be some kind of nothingness?? Maybe I don't completely understand that. But I would prefer to keep my focus on God. I guess what I really wish for is a fusion of Catholicism with some elements of Buddhism -- yoga, meditation, community, nature, singing, peace, etc. Even though I know Buddhism isn't even technically a religion, it *feels* like a religion, or maybe the absence of religion?
post #9 of 10

Your list of practices you are searching for brought this article to mind: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/my-secret-place.

It is a Catholic monastery in Kentucky.  But for the yoga, all of your desires should be met within Catholicism.  We are supposed to be peaceful, love and care for nature, be a people of community, and meditation is deeply ingrained in our religion, etc.  I think you just need to keep searching for these things in your area.  You may need to even take the initiative to start something (I say more to myself than to you...) I also live in a difficult area, where few people seem interested in growing deeply in faith, engaging in introspective practices or anything beyond a smile and handshake at the Sign of Peace.  <sigh>

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

 This is meeting a need for me but I'm not sure if it's the direction I want to go. I haven't ever really fully explored other religions and maybe that's something I need to do at some point, but I want to do it when I'm feeling strong, not... this. You know?
 
.....
 I guess the thing about Nirvana and some of the other Buddhist philosophies is that their goal seems to be some kind of nothingness?? Maybe I don't completely understand that. But I would prefer to keep my focus on God.


I think I do understand, and I think that whatever gives you a greater sense of peace right now is something you could reach for. I've had that feeling of not being strong and wanting to be very careful what I put my faith in.

 

It might be possible for you to talk to a leader in the Buddhist organization and ask questions, and may be that would give you more clarity as to whether or not you are comfortable with aspects of the teaching. It might help you either stay with a sense of peace, or leave with a sense of clarity. I can see either one as really positive options. Leaving with clarity could take your catholic faith to the next level, staying with peace could broaden your concept of god. Either could be lovely. I see them both as fundamentally different than staying but wondering if it's the right thing to do, or leaving out of fear.

 

Even though studying different religions is fascinating, to really get something out of any of them, it helps to attempt to apply it as fully as possible to all avenues of our lives.

 

It seems like part of what you really want is community, and that you aren't getting that from Catholicism. Yet you aren't comfortable getting it in a form that includes other spiritual beliefs. What about broadening your search for community beyond religious organizations and trying some civic groups? May be an environmental group, something associated with a nature area, something like that. People who would be liked minded, but meet in terms that have nothing to do with religion.

 

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