“Ask a Priest: Should Mandalas Be Left on Display in Our House?”

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Q: My husband and I recently purchased two beautiful wood-carved mandalas from Thailand that were fairly expensive. We hung them on the wall as artwork in our living room. I just read that there is Buddhist meaning in the mandalas, and the flower in the center is symbolic of luck and or Buddha. I had no idea when I purchased them. Is this in any way a sin if I keep them up? My husband and I are both Catholic. – E.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: This is a prudential decision for you to make.

Ideally, we should avoid things that scandalize other people and/or make them think that we have grown soft in the practice of our Catholic faith.

The geometric designs of mandalas hold spiritual meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism and other Eastern religions, and even New Age. Someone who is aware of that might think that you and your spouse are embracing non-Christian beliefs.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t have many visitors in your home, or maybe there is no practical danger of scandalizing others so long as you tell curious guests that you only have the mandalas as artworks.

Again, it’s a prudential decision. Perhaps a line from St. Paul could guide you, “Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Artwork can be edifying, of course, and there is no shortage of beautiful religious art (triptychs, icons, tapestries, etc.) that could adorn a Catholic home. So you might consider alternate items for your walls.

One last suggestion would be to resist the idea of feeling stuck with a mistake. If you feel you miscalculated by buying the Thai items, don’t feel as though you need to keep them in place just because you paid a lot for them.

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