This past weekend was one of joy for us. George was received into the Orthodox Church, something I had been praying for and hoping for years! I think the leukemia diagnosis nudged him in that direction – having a spiritual foundation and home base is a comfort when facing such a challenge as cancer and your own mortality. George was a baptized and confirmed Catholic when we married, but he hadn’t attended church regularly in years. He wanted to try to get back into communion with the Catholic Church here, so we consulted with the priest at the cathedral in Philadelphia. We were told that because George married me in the Orthodox Church, he was going to have to jump through some hoops to be accepted back into the Catholic Church, mainly having my first marriage which was blessed in the Orthodox Church annulled by the Catholic Church. George’s first marriage “didn’t count” in the eyes of the Catholic Church because he was married in a protestant church and it was not a sacrament. However, they do recognize the Orthodox Church and its sacraments and would even allow me to commune there, since both churches are historically apostolic. It was much easier for George to convert to Orthodoxy — no annulments necessary! And I have attended church pretty regularly before we married.
Anyway, Father John from Holy Cross in Medford, NJ was wonderful…he visited George in the hospital a couple of times and gave him some instructional videos and books. He was happy to help George enter the faith and there wasn’t a lot of legalistic hurdles or BS.
Early on in George’s diagnosis, I worried that if, God forbid, he were to succumb to his illness, he had no church home. Who would perform his funeral, which is a sacrament in both churches and therefore, only available to members in good standing? Who would bring him communion in the hospital and administer anointing? But most importantly to me, should he depart this life, we would still be able to encounter each other through the sacrament of Holy Communion, where the veil between heaven and earth is transcended and the living and the dead are joined together.
So, it was a joy and comfort when, on Saturday, George was received into the Holy Orthodox Church! My daughter, Zoe was his godmother/sponsor. We were so happy that my step-son Michael was present too! We were just missing my older daughter, Leanna.
“Grant, O Lord, a prosperous and peaceful life, heath, salvation and a furtherance in all things to the newly chrismated servant of God, George and to his sponsor, Zoe and to all that gathered here, and preserve them for many years!”