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Author Topic: Deathbed Chrismation  (Read 1312 times) Average Rating: 0
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BasilCan
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« on: December 27, 2007, 10:37:56 AM »

A convert friend of mine lives with her elderly mother who is dying of cancer. While she was baptized Episcopalian as a child, she never was a church goer. At this point in her life, she is rather ambivalent about the whole thing but is willing to get chrismated for the sake of her daughter who is concerned about her soul, her funeral service etc. My question is this: Do you think it is proper to chrismate someone in this state (bascially for the benefit of the Orthodox daughter)?

Basil
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2007, 12:02:17 PM »

A convert friend of mine lives with her elderly mother who is dying of cancer. While she was baptized Episcopalian as a child, she never was a church goer. At this point in her life, she is rather ambivalent about the whole thing but is willing to get chrismated for the sake of her daughter who is concerned about her soul, her funeral service etc. My question is this: Do you think it is proper to chrismate someone in this state (bascially for the benefit of the Orthodox daughter)? 

Chrismation is intended for the benefit of the person receiving it (and through their witness, all of humanity).  If the mother is ambivalent, about it, I don't think she should go through with it... normally.  The deathbed changes things.

A priest would probably have a better answer for this than I.
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2007, 12:03:24 PM »

A convert friend of mine lives with her elderly mother who is dying of cancer. While she was baptized Episcopalian as a child, she never was a church goer. At this point in her life, she is rather ambivalent about the whole thing but is willing to get chrismated for the sake of her daughter who is concerned about her soul, her funeral service etc. My question is this: Do you think it is proper to chrismate someone in this state (bascially for the benefit of the Orthodox daughter)?

Basil

This would be like someone converting to get married (I called off an egagement over this once).  Not exactly ideal, but it happens.

Now, since mom might be ambivalent about the whole thing, but IS open to it, I think that meets the bare minimum requirement.  Otherwise you get too much into motives (and for instance are we going to go into the motives of converts in Russia?  No, I don't think that's necessary, even thought there is a "everyone's doing it" among many.  At least everyone is doing the right thing, even if for the wrong reason).

I'm assuming the daughter will be praying for mom after the end comes. I do that for the unconverted, but since mom is receptive to what the daughter will be doing, why not make it official before she goes?  She can fully appreciate it later, on the other side.

Remember, when the friends lowered the paralytic before Christ, He saw THEIR Faith, and said "THY sins are forgiven THEE."
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2007, 04:25:46 PM »

Which of us can say that we have a perfect understanding of the faith when we receive the Eucharist or any other Mystery?
Perhaps only the smallest of the children, because at least a baby trusts fully those taking care of him or her, and as such has the closest in perception to reality to the situation of receiving the Mystery to our spiritual healing from our loving God. It is we adults with delusions of our own importance that distance us from this perfect trust that a child has when s/he is chrismated.

For this reason, as long as the mother is at least cooperative, I would chrismate her. Not one of us could ever understand all that transpires in any Mystery, and so just because she seems to just want to 'go along with it to  please her daughter'...well, no one is truly forcing her, and God can do a lot with a willing and cooperative heart when coupled with prayers of sinners such as myself.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2007, 04:26:03 PM by FrChris » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2007, 05:15:53 PM »

Which of us can say that we have a perfect understanding of the faith when we receive the Eucharist or any other Mystery?
Perhaps only the smallest of the children, because at least a baby trusts fully those taking care of him or her, and as such has the closest in perception to reality to the situation of receiving the Mystery to our spiritual healing from our loving God. It is we adults with delusions of our own importance that distance us from this perfect trust that a child has when s/he is chrismated.

For this reason, as long as the mother is at least cooperative, I would chrismate her. Not one of us could ever understand all that transpires in any Mystery, and so just because she seems to just want to 'go along with it to  please her daughter'...well, no one is truly forcing her, and God can do a lot with a willing and cooperative heart when coupled with prayers of sinners such as myself. 

And that's why I defer to priests like Fr. Chris.

Great answer.  Thanks, padre.
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2007, 12:38:37 PM »

My mother had Alzheimer's and it was beginning to be obvious that she would not be with us for long. I asked a priest friend of mine who said that he felt uncomfortable in performing a chrismation on her as she had not made that decision when she was fully able to several years before.  My wife and I were worried, she had not been to church in several years due to various circumstances.  When I called the Episcopal Priest at the church in my home of origin where she had been a member of for over 25 years, he said he would bury her but as no one could remember her (this was sad she taught in the parish school for years) he would have to ask for $2500 as a donation for burying a non-parishioner.

As the days progressed, I noticed that my mother was crossing herself in the Eastern Orthodox way, kissing the family icons and even having my grandson, then 2 bring her the icon of the Theotokos from the family room to her room.  She would talk to the holy mother, pour out her heart to her and kiss the icon.Upon seeing this I went to another priest I knew and told him of my mother's problem and he stated, "Of course I will Chrismate her, God has made her like a child and as I would do for a child I will bring her into the Church".  He chrismated her and during the service, we witnessed a miracle, she became alert and oriented, she answered all the questions of the priest during the service, recited the creed, and it was very apparent she was making her own decisions.  After the service she was her old self for three hours.  After three hours she stated she was tired and went to bed, when she awoke she was back to her  previous Alzheimer's state.  Father told us we had been given a miracle to let us know that she really did want to be orthodox.  She communed three times prior to her death and always looked forward to Father's visits bringing her the body and blood of her Savior.

One can not dismiss the value of any conversion, even that of a death bed conversion I have learned.

Thomas
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Holy Father Patrick, thank you for your help!


« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2007, 01:45:09 PM »

^^Wonderful anecdote, Thomas!

How often have I been called by a nursing home because one of their residents, a parishioner of mine, is agitated? And as I come into the room, often before she sees me, she is quiet because I bring with me the Eucharist. We sing hymns in Greek, she receives, I visit a little, and then go away...and peace lingers in her room and the building.

And I know it's not because of me.
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2007, 10:41:53 PM »

Thanks to all for your opinions and stories. Of course, the issue has gone to a priest who will make the right decision, based upon the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Basil
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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2008, 09:27:28 AM »

Thanks to all for your opinions and stories. Of course, the issue has gone to a priest who will make the right decision, based upon the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Basil 

We'll pray for the Lord's mercy.  Let us know how things work out, please.

Lord, have mercy on your servant!
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2008, 12:57:46 AM »

Yes, BasilCan, please let us know what transpires here...perhaps this illness is the way the Lord will call this woman into His Church, transforming this 'deathbed' into her crib for new life!
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