Chapter 19 // Contents
WHY I CONVERTED TO
THE ORTHODOX FAITH
In the summer of 1972, Father George began to collect all the relevant information required for his accession to the Orthodox Church. His thoughts went directly to Cyril Dragomitrovich the priest-monk he had met in Rome, so he wrote to him. Father Cyril was a fiery Orthodox priest, honest and direct, and completely dedicated to his church. He believed that it was worth "saving" Father George, so he immediately began the initial steps to satisfying Father George's wishes in joining the Orthodox Church. He arranged a meeting between an Orthodox bishop and Father George, he insured that the conditions for the theological preparations were available, and he found a monastery in Serbia where Father George could quietly wait for the big moment to arrive.
Soon after, Father George went to meet the bishop, as he knew that Father Cyril would accept no objections. Before leaving Comano, he wrote a long letter to his friends, writing: "The faith which gives meaning to a Christian life can only be found travelling on the path of honesty and authenticity. In truth, we must always be honest with ourselves. Deep down in our soul, we feel that we have been created in the image of God, and from deep inside us rises the love and the obsession that leads us to Him. For many years now, and without my realizing it, a strong force has pulled me towards the True faith, which is Orthodoxy, and which is both human and holy, the Orthodox Church will answer any and all our requests, such as: in our quest for life - because it seriously believes in the resurrection, which is empirically tested in this here life; in freedom - because it recognizes the personality and the synodical plurality; and in love - because it does not emasculate the soul. Reflecting back emotionally, I realize that divine providence guided me throughout the avenues of my life to lead me to these discoveries. Orthodoxy opened up my eyes, to be able to interpret the gambols of the heart and the apprehensions of the brain. Thus, I have reached an animated and alive theology, which is very rare for our times. An intellectual lady once wrote to me, just before she died: "I am very happy that 1 am Orthodox, and I feel an endless peace". This endless peace is what I also want to find. And I'm praying for the whole world".
With these thoughts, Father George informed all his friends of his entering the Orthodox Church. Towards the end of August, he arrived at the monastery which Father Cyril had recommended, with one suitcase in his possession. He was inside the chapel, where they were celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when he was given a registered letter. It was the reply from the Uniate bishop, under whose jurisdiction Father George served the past several years. The contents were somewhat unpleasant and contradictory. The bishop stated that the Uniate bishops now acted autonomously, up to a point, towards the Vatican. But at the same time, he asked if Father George had notified the Eastern Brotherhood, the official Vatican Department which was responsible for such matters. This letter dampened Father George's disposition. He left the chapel and strolled through the village. When he returned, he saw the others trying to kill a snake at the entrance of the chapel. Evil had been conquered. Father George walked into the chapel, happy as a lark.
On September 2nd, 1972, at the age of forty, Father George Pap appeared in front of the Orthodox bishop and read, with trembling hands, his petition to enter the Orthodox faith. He was accepted.
That same day, an Orthodox lady whispered to him:
"You'll see that the Orthodox are no better than the Catholics".
It could be true. It could be happening because the Orthodoxy had the talent of truthfulness but did not gain from it (Matthew 25, 14-30). The Orthodox will probably be punished more than the Catholics on the day of Judgement. They will probably be judged for their nationalism and for their barren ritualism and so on. They will probably be punished because they disregarded the Grace which lived inside Orthodoxy, while the Catholics and the others will probably be saved because they could not find Grace.
Certain people thought then that Father George was just "temporarily passing through" Orthodoxy, and that he had not really converted. He had to fight many battles to prove otherwise, in the two years it took him to become a frocked priest-monk. Many more words could be written in describing the years he spent in preparing for Orthodoxy. But the words of Father Cyril Dragomitrovich eloquently express this discovery of living faith inside the despair and sorrow of this world, with Orthodoxy acting as the humble witness to all this. When this man of God was asked by Father George to help him convert to Orthodoxy, he replied:
"The cross of Orthodoxy is not light, but it will lead you to happiness and salvation".
Chapter 19 // Contents
Page created: 21-7-2008.
Last update: 21-7-2008.