21 Jun TALES FROM THE JOURNEY HOME From Buddhism to Catholicism: A Young Man’s Words of Profound Wisdom
1. How old are you?
– Twenty four this year.
2. What do you do for a living?
– I am an artist and part time office administer/art teacher for children.
3. Where do you live?
– I am living in Singapore.
4. What faith tradition were you raised in?
– I was raised in mixture of Taoism and Buddhism, which are typical religions in Chinese families.
5. What initially attracted you to the Catholic Church?
– Through supernatural impulses, I was attracted to the Eucharistic celebration and Holy Rosary in Catholic Church. It was the awareness of God's very real presence in Blessed Sacrament and Blessed Tabernacle that is mainly responsible.
Perhaps it is because of my deafness that I become more sensitive to spirituality and visual artistic senses. As if it was yesterday, I still remember one particular dream that sparked my conversion to Catholic Church. In my dream, I saw the Lord Jesus save an elderly woman from the pit and bid the crowd to follow Him. But suddenly, He turned to me and pointed to a certain dark area, as if He were hinting at something. When I awoke, I decided to drop everything and go straight to the nearest Parish.
In another memorable dream, I saw figures in the Church and they laid their hands over me as if praying over me. Instinctively, I thought they were the Angels because they were so silent. I remembered it happened after my intense prayer to the Angels and Saints to help me to get closer to God. I also witnessed the miracles that had strengthened my faith and always associated with Catholic Church.
6. Did you have erroneous ideas about the Church before you converted? If so, what were they?
– No, I did not have hostile feeling towards Mother Church in the beginning.
7. How did your friends and family react to your conversion?
– I was even surprised at my own conversion because there is no Christian relatives in my family except a few Protestant cousins. My parents did not like the idea of my conversion to Catholic Church yet only my mum witnessed my baptism and confirmation. My friends were naturally surprised. On the day of my baptism, my fellow Church friends told me that they were so inspired by my perseverance in faith that they tried their best to become better Catholics.
8. Do you attend the Novus Ordo or the traditional Latin Mass?
– Both. If I were to choose one, I would rather choose Traditional Latin Mass.
9. Are you involved in your parish? If so, how?
– Yes. In the past, I was involved in youth ministries and Charismatic groups in various parishes. But I am currently the vice president of Singapore Catholic Deaf Community, an independent lay organization of Archdiocese of Singapore.
10. Do you find that most Catholics are well-catechized?
– Only Traditional Catholics and others who are involved in Parish ministries.
11. Did you take Rite of Christian Initiation classes? If so, tell us something about your experience there.
– Yes, I had participated thrice. When I was young, I had taken Rite of Christian Initiation for Youths twice but to no avail because of secular pursuits and my parents' objections respectively. I studied in Catholic schools. So I knew a bit about Catholicism. When I finally reached the age of 21 where there was no obligation of obedience my parents, I went for third attempt in Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.
In God's Mercy, He made me learn sign language and sent me two dear friends to help me out as my interpreters on my one year journey. For I am deaf and it was difficult for me to catch up with the classes, even with my lip reading ability.
In spite of its specialty for the deaf, my junior Catholic school prohibited all the children from using sign language but trained us to speak in order to integrate us with outside world. While learning sign language, I was able to take full course on the way to baptism and confirmation with the help of my friends. Over the time, I came to love God more and more because the better I got to know Him, the more ardently would I love Him. I also began to love Mother Mary.
Prior to my baptism, I had a dream in which I received a letter of warning with foul language. It warned me not to go to Catholic Church and study its Catechism of Catholic Church. I knew it was the devil but I laughed it off and chose to go ahead with the baptism and confirmation because I saw it as a clear sign of my salvation and even desired more for eternal communion with God.
I am really grateful for such the formation classes. I am hoping to continue the catechism class as a sponsor but unfortunately I cannot find keen friends who know sign language.
12. To what extent was the witness of Catholics (clergy and/or laity) instrumental in your conversion?
– Mostly, I would credit my spiritual experiences and findings of truths in the Church. But I think that clergy and laity played very important roles in my conversion too because they display the love of Christ and even joy of their dedication to God.
If I have not met them and learnt from them, I would not be Catholic today. Father Felix of Jesus Rougier, the Servant of God, wrote that the thermometer of the faith in a school or nation is the number of priestly and religious vocations.
13. If you could offer advice to Catholics who wish to help others convert, what would you say?
– Share the weaknesses and failures with others. They will certainly see how God worked within us as we are the sinners who are trying to become holy and perfect as God is. Jean Vanier wrote in her Community and Growth, “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and success.”
I think it is true because many are very afraid of dramatic changes and thus reject Lord Jesus and Mother Mary. Once they accept Jesus and Mary, they will have to change their lives forever.
Do not be discouraged by their indifferent attitudes because their hearts are so hardened that they cannot see and comprehend God's Love and Mercy. They do not understand that we Catholics were crucified with Christ through baptism so that we live in God and God lives in us.
Be patient and wait for God's time. Time is a measurement of change. If we can improve and become better Catholics with God's graces till perfection, so can they change. Never underestimate the works of Holy Spirit as nothing is impossible with God. God's time may be slow but His plans are always perfect when time comes.