Chapter 2 // Contents // Chapter 4
WHY I CONVERTED TO
THE ORTHODOX FAITH
It seemed that even when George Pap was still an embryo in his mother's womb, fate decreed that he would join the priesthood, since he was born on Fete-Dieu in 1932. (Fete-Dieu or Corpus Christi is the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament or body of Christ, held on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.) But no signs of devoutness was present in his parents' home. Even George's godmother, who according to the laws of the church had the duty to encourage and to strengthen the beliefs of the little boy, stated to him one day that she did not believe that God existed and that if He did exist sometime, He would surely be dead by now.
George must have been six years old when he felt for the first time, for a brief moment, the calling of the priesthood. He administered the liturgy in his home by using an egg-cup as the communion cup and a small tea-strainer as the censer. He catechized his godfather and his godmother. One day he even dressed his godmother as a nun by placing a white towel around her head and covering her with a black veil. Lastly, his grandmother, on his mother's side, sewed red buttons on a black cloth and George had himself a vestment (the red buttons indicated a dignitary of the Catholic Church).
After the war, George and many of his countrymen did not look upon the Soviet occupation forces as allies, nor did they have much respect for the various Hungarian governments that followed, as they were all communist. As a reaction against the government, George searched for other ideologies and this was observed in the type of clothes that he dressed his teddy-bears in. He dressed them as soldiers, then as fascists, followed by aristocrats and finally as Catholic bishops. During this period, George was attracted by the preachings of Cardinal Mingenti, who spoke up against the government. Some considered the Cardinal daring, while others thought him dangerous. George tried to attend all his meetings but not without some danger.
Once, his parents locked him in his room to prevent him attending one of the Cardinal's meetings. Being in his teens now, George could not accept the political propaganda spoken by various teachers and professors and showed his disapproval whichever way he could. Their political speeches, which so aroused the masses, caused him much amusement.
Even though his interests were still focused mainly on social, cultural and political events and less on religious matters, his conversion was approaching.
The winter of 1947-1948 was a tense one, as the relationships between the major powers became very strained and there was talk of a third world war. Various friends of George's mother used to get together in the only heated room in their house and drink tea and discuss the situation. They used to broil squash on the stove, this being the only food they could afford in the capital. George used to sit with them, listening to the exchange of ideas and of the future prospects. The thought of war scared him very much.
One day, one of the friends, who happened to be a catechism teacher at a primary school, related the promises for peace and world change given by the Virgin Mary to the small group of shepherds in Fatima. (It was said that the Virgin Mary appeared in Fatima, a small village in Portugal, during the First World War.) It was at that moment that this message from the heavens hit George like a bomb. A strange event occurred later - George became very reserved when people related various appearances by the Virgin Mary. But he soon realized that God spoke in the language of each person, that we are all under the care and protection of providence, that there was an Immaculate Person who was above all living creatures and who protected him and filled him with joy and happiness. George asked for more information concerning the Virgin Mary's appearance in Fatima. When the book arrived the next day and he read it, he became a different person. Seeing that the solution to all the problems facing this suffering world of ours was based on the Christian faith, George decided to dedicate his life for the spreading of this faith.
This was the moment of Grace which cannot be explained by psychology, and this was the moment that marked the direction his life would take. George had made his decision, which meant that he would join the Brotherhood of the Virgin Mary at his school. But it was not easy for his solitary temperament to adapt to the joining and mixing with the masses. Also, the priest in charge of the Brotherhood openly treated him in with disdain, and it was only years later that George found out that his parents had asked the priest in charge ''not to convert their son.''
But George was to become the most active member of the Brotherhood. He researched the history of the Brotherhood, which began in the 17th Century. He read books filled with Baroque spiritualities and also an artificial religious exercise. He became editor of the Brotherhood's "wall newspaper" and felt very proud when an extract of one of his articles was published in one of the daily newspapers. But his teachers still worried about the possible repercussions. George still felt protected by the Virgin Mary, to whom the Brotherhood was devoted to. He was seriously contemplating his calling when he was sorely tested by a temptation of the flesh, but at the same moment an old Latin hymn reverberated inside his room:
'Rejoice, the true Virgin, pure and immaculate".
Without paying too much attention to the words of the hymn, it was the melodious tones that made him feel the enviable chastity of the Virgin Mary. Hence, his temptation was lost, was beaten and was overcome, "just as smoke disappears, just as wax melts away in the presence of fire".
Chapter 2 // Contents // Chapter 4
Page created: 30-9-2006.
Last update: 12-6-2008.