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Carol wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a 16-year-old girl living in Florida. My mother is Pentecostal and my father is not religious.

Since I have been reading about Catholicism, I have felt drawn to becoming a Catholic so my first question is:

  • Is it normal to feel this way?

I go to my mother's church with her every Sunday and:

  • I know she would be devastated if I told her I don't want to go, and
  • I would have no way of getting to another church anyway.

  • Is there any way I can become a Catholic without telling her?

I'm not ashamed of my interest in the faith but I don't think I could do this to her. I've been diagnosed with a couple anxiety disorders and what I have read about Catholicism brings me a peace I never thought I could have. It just feels right.

  • Is it supposed to feel this good?

Thank you for your web site and your time.

Carol

  { Is it normal at age 16, to feel this good about a new faith I've been reading about? }

Mike replied:

Dear Carol,

Thanks for the question.

You said:
Since I have been reading about Catholicism, I have felt drawn to becoming a Catholic so my first question is:

  • Is it normal to feel this way?

Yes, it is very normal because, as a Catholic, we can rest assured that the teachings of the only Church Jesus founded will always be true and therefore will be a sure norm for the Christian faith (1 Timothy 3:15). In renewing our Covenant, there is also an awe in partaking in Divine Nature when we receive the Eucharist every Sunday. It ensures that we have the mind and body to face the physical and mental challenges that the secular world bring to us for that week.

Check out my favorites page for more:

You said:
I go to my mother's church with her every Sunday and:

  • I know she would be devastated if I told her I don't want to go, and
  • I would have no way of getting to another church anyway.

  • Is there any way I can become a Catholic without telling her?

I'm not ashamed of my interest in the faith but I don't think I could do this to her.

This is a common situation. Several instances can be found in our searchable knowledge base.

There are a lot of quick answers there, so give it a try.

I searched the knowledge base for you and found these web postings that should help you in your situation. At the end of each posting there may be a [Related posting] link. Read those web pages too!

Finally, pray and be not afraid Carol and if you have any specific questions on the faith, just ask us.

Here an easy-to-remember web address: http://www.AskACatholic.com/AskUs

Hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hi Carol,

Mike has pretty much answered your immediate questions but I wanted to weigh in as former Pentecostal Minister and offer any assistance I can be to you.

It is wonderful that you are reading up on Catholicism; the Catechism would be a great help.
As you study further, certain questions might arise so that's where I may be able to help you to understand or overcome any stumbling blocks that may arise.

You should also know that within the Church, there is what is known as the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. The Renewal is made up of people who have had experiences and received the very same gifts that you might find in a Pentecostal church, like prophecy, healing, and tongues but it is all in conformity to Catholic doctrine and of course, along with gifts being active, these folks have access to the sacraments which sadly are missing in Pentecostal churches.

As you continue your journey, perhaps you could see if there is a Charismatic Prayer group in your area. That might actually help to bridge the gap for your mother. If she knew you were part of a group of, what she would call, Spirit-filled Christians, that embrace the gifts and also are more likely to study the Scriptures, it might make it easier for her to understand.

The good news is that in a couple of years you will be an adult and will be able to make the decision for yourself, without her permission. Even still, you want to be respectful to your mother and reassure her that you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. All authentic Catholics believe this. The might not use the same language as Protestants, but of course Jesus is our Lord and Savior. He founded our Church.

That said, please don't hesitate to write with your questions. We will also be praying for you.

Finally, if you let us know what city you're in or near. Maybe we can connect you with some people locally.

Warmly —

Under His Mercy,

John

Carol replied:

Hi guys,

Thank-you for replying to me!

  • If I was christened as a baby, would that mean that when I am older and can officially convert, I won't be baptized?
  • I have a Rosary and was wondering if it would be OK to pray with it?

I would like to convert as much as I can while still respecting my mother but I really don't want to disrespect God either. I live in Polk County Florida but don't have a car or anyone who I can share this with. If there is someone you think I should call, I will.

  • At what point can someone call themselves a Catholic?
  • Will God be understanding if I wait until I'm 18 to convert?

Thank you so much for helping me.

Carol

John replied:

Hi Carol,

Let's take the question about Rosary first because it's easy and short.

Yes, of course, you can pray the Rosary or any other Catholic Prayer and devotion and I highly recommend it. So long as your Christening or Baptism was administered with the valid form, matter, and intention, you don't need to be baptized again; you just need to be confirmed.

By valid form I mean: [Name] I baptized you, In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Some groups like United Pentecostal or Oneness Pentecostals, only baptize in the name of Jesus. That would be an invalid form but they don't perform infant baptisms anyway so I doubt that was the case.

  • By matter, we mean that you were baptized with water . . . That's a given. I don't know of anyone that performs baptisms with motor oil (just joking LOL) and
  • the proper intention means the minister of Baptism intended to perform Christian Baptism (Regardless of whether he or she believed Baptism is only a symbol, rather than bringing about the New Birth) . . . and that is almost always the case.

You would also need to provide a Baptismal certificate. If you can't, then you would be conditionally baptized. Meaning the priest would say: [Name], If you aren't already baptized, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Either way, whether of not you need to be baptized, the process leading up to your acceptance into the Church is the same. You would enter an RCIA program. It's a period of preparation with others seeking to enter the Church. This program is usually available in local parishes or parish collaboratives. There is usually a team of lay Catholics with the assistance of priests, deacons, or even a nun. You will be instructed in the doctrines of the Church, in Catholic life, Catholic devotions and so on.

Some of these programs are well run. Some — not so much. So when you're ready, if you like, we will work with you to find a good one your area. Again, we need to know where you live in that case. That is if you're comfortable telling us. The program usually starts in September or October and runs right up until Easter and the candidates are usually received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, that Saturday night before Easter.

At that point, if you need to be baptized, conditionally or otherwise, you will be. You'll be confirmed, and receive the Eucharist with the rest of the Congregation.

Because you were baptized as a child, you will also need to make your first Confession. If you are conditionally baptized you would also make your first Confession. That will probably happen a day or two before Confirmation or perhaps even that afternoon. Those that weren't previously baptized at all don't need to go to Confession as Baptism wipes out original sin and any sin that may have been committed during your life.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. I don't want to overwhelm you. Again we are hear to assist you. I ran the RCIA program for two years in my parish. All of us here AskaCatholic.com each bring a particular set different gifts to the table so we work very much as team to help people on their path.

Please pray for us, when you pray. Rest assured we will be praying for you.

Warmly, Under His Mercy,

John

Carol replied:

John,

I live in the Kissimmee area of Florida but I am not ready to enter the RCIA program.

  • Would it be OK to wait until I'm 18?

Carol

John replied:

Hi, Carol —

Whenever you're ready, the Holy Spirit will lead you and let you know.

John

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