This Week’s Ask Alice: “A Buddha statue in Catholic home” (Click on the included links for a comprehensive Lenten Catholic study)



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Chickie writes: While visiting the home of a terminally ill Catholic friend, I was surprised to find a large “Buddha” figurine prominently displayed there.

This seems like paganism and idolatry, and it really bothers me. It also makes me wonder if the presence of this idol might be somehow nullifying the prayers we have been offering up for her recovery.

I feel like I should say something to my friend, but she’s so sick right now, that it might just make things worse.

I’ve also considered writing a note to her husband about it, but I really don’t know if that would be a good idea, either.

None the less, I can’t imagine why good Catholic would have such an image in their home.

I’ve recently been praying hard on this. What do you think I should I do?

Alice answers: Does your Catholic friend have a crucifix or picture of Jesus in her house? If so, that is a good sign.

Since she is terminally ill, the present time is not opportune for arguing about the Buddha figurine in her home. Sick people and their caregivers are suffering much pain and can become upset easily. You are correct in thinking that your well-intentioned comments might make things worse. You don’t want your friend and her husband to slam the door on your future visits.

A Buddha statue cannot harm a baptized, faithful Catholic. The mere presence of the statue will not nullify prayers for her recovery.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha (563-483 B.C.) was a spiritual teacher who founded the Buddhist religion. He was a human being, not a pagan god. If you saw a statue of Abraham Lincoln or Dr. Martin Luther King in a Catholic home, you would assume that the family felt deep respect for a good man. You would not worry that they were worshiping idols.

(Important note: The Buddhist religion typically incorporates many elements of two pagan belief systems known as Pantheism and Brahminism, which are both in serious conflict with many/most authentic Catholic/Christian beliefs and practices.)

If you feel compelled to speak, simply ask where your friend got the Buddha statue. If she received it as a gift from an Asian friend or purchased it as a decoration for her home, then the only problem is that your taste in decorating differs from hers.

If your Catholic friend said that she prays to Buddha, then she is mixing religions, which is definitely wrong. However, no demonic influence is likely to result from her misguided efforts, since she faithfully prays to our Triune God.

Please don’t allow a figurine to separate you from your sick friend. By arguing over Buddha, Satan might work his wiles and alienate your friend. Instead, ignore the Buddha while visiting, then say a prayer privately that the statue will be removed from her home. If your budget permits, you might buy a crucifix or statue of Jesus and wrap it up as a gift for your dear friend.

Above all, please stay focused on your mission to “visit the sick” and “pray for the living and the dead,” which are Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)

You are doing wonderful work in supporting your dying friend and her husband! Your charity pleases God (the real one). Just keep doing your job (prayerful visits) and leave your worries about the Buddha statue to God. That’s His job.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

More about statues and images

4 Comments

  1. Asking a catholic about idols is an oxymoron.
    A crucifix is an idol.

    • Actually, a crucifix is a sacramental … an aide to prayer and meditation on the mysteries of our redemption in Jesus Christ. Nobody worships a crucifix, although veneration of the cross is highly recommended.

      The Church long ago came to the realization that once Jesus Christ took on flesh and literally became the image of a heavenly thing, the old prohibition against graven images became moot.

      The modern day version of western materialistic idolatry is now much more dangerous to the soul.

      As for those who fail to see the logic of this … I hope you have no family photos on your desk, no hood ornaments on your car, no art work in your home, no coin or paper money in your pocket, and no electronic images on your computer screen.

  2. Alice is definitely sugar coating this issue and it is too bad, it is so clear in the bible what God feels about idols of other god’s in our homes:
    Deuteronomy 7:26 “Neither shall you bring an abomination (an idol) into your house, lest you become an accursed thing like it; but you shall utterly detest and abhor it, for it is an accursed thing”.

    God abhors these items and goes as far to say we may become an ‘accursed thing like it’ if we bring these willfully into our homes. I am not a bible scholar but ‘accursed thing’ sounds like someone who would be under a curse of the spirit that goes with the idol.

    • you realize of course that the various buddhas that have existed are not considered gods. They are symbols of achieving nirvana, but the statue itself is not worshiped, nor is the Buddha considered a deity. TO say contrary really just shows ignorance of the subject that your addressing. As pointed out their are elements of Buddhism that potentially would be in conflict, but the Buddha statue is no different then the dollar bill in your pocket, just a portrait of a great man, not a god.


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