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Jill Goldberg wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am 14 years old and my dad is a Baptist pastor. I am also home schooled.

I have been looking into the defense of my faith for the past two years and all I could find was the Catholic Church is the God-created Church so I have been reading all I can so I can be closer to God. I made a Rosary last year out of pony beads and pray it every day now.

I have not told my parents about any of this yet, and I know they won't let me go to RCIA this fall or any other fall, so I need to wait until I am on my own. That's just some background information.

I was baptized at age 5, with water and in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirt. I know that if you wait too long after a baby is born, the child has to wait until they are of age to understand being baptized. I think the age of understanding is 7, so my baptism would not be valid. I don't know that much about this aspect of the faith so I am not sure.

  • Was my baptism valid?
  • Also what should I do to be ready to take the next step when I am on my own?
  • What should I do now?

Thank you for any answers you can give me.

Jill Goldberg

  { As a 14-year-old, what's next, if my father is a Baptist minister yet I believe the Catholic faith? }

Mike replied:

Dear Jill,

First, as a fellow Christian, let me applaud you for your interest in defending your faith. I wish more young Catholic Christians your age would do the same in our Church. I am amazed how you have let the Holy Spirit guide you at such a young age. I love praying the Rosary too!

You are absolutely correct that the Catholic Church is the God-created Church as Jesus [was/is] one substance with the Father and therefore Jesus, the God-Man established one Church on St. Peter and promised that St. Peter’s successors would:

  • Safeguard
  • Protect, and
  • Interpret correctly all Christian doctrine until Our Lord’s Second Coming.

Many Protestants falsely believe that the Church invents new teachings. This is incorrect and comes from those who wish to distort what Catholic Christians believe.

On the issues of:

  • joining the Church
  • dealing with your parents, and
  • attending RCIA

In a related question, Mary Ann said:

The Church considers that at 14 you are of an age to convert if you want to, though they may want your parent's permission prior to age 18. Your baptism in the Church of England (if that's what it was) is valid, so all you would have to do is contact your local Catholic parish and ask about the process for instruction in becoming a full member of the Church.

While you have the right in conscience to convert, you should speak with your parents about this, and study the faith seriously. With their permission, you may start the process now. If your parents forbid your conversion, you can continue in prayer and preparation until you are of age.

So until you are 18 years old, you have to be obedient to your parents as Jesus was obedient to Joseph and Mary. At 18, you can make your own choices. In your specific situation, I would make an appointment with a faithful Catholic priest who:

  • Is faithful to the Pope
  • Has a devotion to, or honors, Mary, as you do, and
  • Has a devotion to the Eucharist

If you have any Catholic friends, ask them whom they would recommend as a friendly, faithful priest. Share with the pastor/priest what you have shared in your e-mail to us. Eventually, you will have to share what you believe with your father. I would recommend praying a mini Holy Spirit prayer I use:

Lord give me the grace to say the things I should say, at the right time and in the right manner and not to say anything I shouldn't say.

Give me the grace to do the things I should do, at the right time and in the right manner and not do anything I shouldn't do.

Amen.

I say this prayer every time before I visit my brother mainly because his family isn't the most religious of families but I don’t want destroy any good relationship I have with the family and especially with my niece and nephews.

And as Pope St. John Paul II told us, Be not afraid. Jesus also told us in the Scriptures:

19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:19-20)

That said, share with your father what you have shared with us. The roots of the Baptist faith only go back to John Smyth in 1609. From 33 A. D. when Jesus ascended into Heaven to 1609 A. D. there was no such thing as a Baptist faith. That is just History 101.

If you were baptized a Christian in the Baptist faith at age 5, you are in most cases, validly baptized, as the Catholic Church usually recognizes the baptism performed by Baptists. If there is any uncertainty, the priest you talk to will ensure you have been validly baptized. If he is unsure, he will give you a conditional Baptism.

Because a person can only be baptized once, in this case, he would say:

If you are not yet baptized, I baptize you, in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

By the way the Holy Spirit has been moving in your life I am very confident you have been validly baptized so do not worry about this issue but do as the priest says who brings you into the Church.

The Church has always taught and believed that all infants should be immediately baptized very soon after their birth. This is because of the importance Jesus placed on Baptism as attested to in Mark 16:16.

You said:
I think the age of understanding is 7, so my baptism would not be valid. I don't know that much about this aspect of the faith so I am not sure.

  • Was my baptism valid?
  1. Yes, your Baptism was valid, from the time you were baptized, shortly after birth, and
  2. Yes, the age of understanding (or age of reason) is age 7, when Catholics receive their First Holy Communion.

Your father may say that an infant cannot profess Jesus has his/her Personal Lord and Savior — and he is correct. Because the parents are the infant’s flesh and blood, and since an infant cannot speak for themselves, the parents stand in place of and speak for the infant. Again, this is because of the importance Jesus places on Baptism (Mark 16:16) and because the parents want what is best for their children's eternal salvation. Later, at Confirmation, around age 16, the young adult chooses Jesus on their own and receives additional graces.

I hope this has answered most of your questions. If not, just Reply All, to this e-mail.

As a young Baptist Christian, one issue that may confuse you is how we view the Bible.

While personal Bible reading is encouraged in the Church and Catholics are encouraged to read the Scriptures on a regular basis, the Bible is a liturgical book. Meaning it is a book that was put together by the Catholic Church for use in our worship service, the Mass.

Going to Mass is the way Catholic Christians renew their Sunday Covenant with the Lord as He commanded for our own good. (See the Third Commandment).

The Bible was never intended to be a book of beliefs or a book of doctrines — that is what the Catholic Catechism is for, not the Bible. While the Catholic Church admires and encourages non-Catholic Christian families who base their family faith on the Scriptures and its principles, one has to distinguish between the Scriptures and the separate book of teachings Jesus wants us to live by which can be found in the Catechism.

Various teens at various ages have different reading abilities.

If you are a good reader you can buy a book intended just for your age bracket called YouCat.

In my view, the name was chosen as a way for the Vatican to try to be cool with the younger generation. YouCat is an abbreviation for Youth Catechism and you can buy one on-line.

I have a niece that is a super reader. If you are also an advanced super reader, you may be able to handle the bigger Catechism of the Catholic Church, though it’s about two inches thick. It's the type of book that you should probably take a section at a time in between regular prayer times, or you can try the smaller-sized question and answer form of learning in the Compendium to the Catechism.

If you have not seen it, you also may be interested in some of my articles on My Favorites page including:

I hope this helps.

If you have further questions, just reply or use the AskUs quick link:

http://www.AskACatholic.com/AskUs

One powerful faith-sharing tool you can share with your father is my Scripture Passages page.

Though the Scriptures are not the pillar and foundation of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15), Catholic Christians can still show Biblical support for Catholic Teachings from the Bible. That is the purpose behind this web page:

http://www.AskACatholic.com/ScripturePassages

Maybe you could share this web page with your father just to get his opinion : )

Both of you may also be interested in a related posting: Are Catholics considered Christians?

I hope this helps,

Mike
[Related posting] [Related posting]

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