Today it’s been a month since I had my last real conversation with my father. Two days later, I spoke to him for the last time just before he was rushed into surgery and we shared “I love you’s” and prayed together. A couple of days after that there was no brain activity and was to be removed from a breathing ventilator. I flew into Seattle just in time to greet loved ones in my father’s hospital room and a few hours later the staff was taking him off his ventilator.
The surreal moment my father slipped away, I was holding his hand with one hand and feeling the last of his heart beats with the other. I knew I couldn’t allow myself to really feel it right then. I took my mother out for some tea, and then we went to a “pre-sanctified” liturgy at the Byzantine Church, as it is the season of Lent, and my first Lenten season.
Everything began happening so quickly. My father’s wife (not my mother) had asked me to meet the following morning at their shared storage unit to go through his personal things. After we had gone through some tools of his, she handed me his jewelry box and told me before I opened it, “there’s a crucifix in there for you”. A crucifix? My father had never said a word to me about anything catholic; good or bad.
Allow me to digress; I am preparing to receive confirmation and first communion this Easter, 2017. After resigning the pastorate of a protestant church last year, I and my family have been on a catechumen’s journey to full communion. My father and I had only been able to speak briefly about that during his last few months.
I had grown up with my mother and father being church goers for my younger years; Pentecostal Holiness and then later a mega ministry. But he had fallen out of church going routine as the years went by. But a crucifix?
I hadn’t even acquired my own crucifix yet, and my father had one? I wondered what it could mean. I went immediately to asking every family member in contact with my father about the crucifix, and no one knew a thing about it.
After returning home, I was anticipating the opportunity to show the crucifix to our parish priest. The following Sunday, and after having the Crucifix on the altar, I showed our priest the crucifix and explained how I acquired it. As I spoke his face lit up. He said he had not seen one in a long time and that it is a Pardon Crucifix. At home, I looked up what I could find online about the Pardon Crucifix (I will copy what I found below this blog).
No one knew how or where my father acquired the crucifix, but now it was mine. And I wear it, and pray the prayers. From the moment I saw it, I felt it was a reminder of God’s hand not only on my father’s life, but my own. Only God knew how meaningful it would have been for me to make such a discovery on a such a hard day. Only God could know how the mystery of it’s origin in his possession is actually a source of peace.
And this worn Pardon Crucifix; with the beautiful inscriptions, most particularly; “Father forgive them”, is a daily and multiple times per day, reminder of the great Love that the Father has loved us, that He would send His only Son to save us from our sins.
And this Easter, I will be Catholic. And the last gift my earthly father has given me is the most timely and meaningful, and for me, it is also from my Heavenly Father, who has led me so mercifully with His Holy Spirit on this journey and continues to give me sweet, blessed signs along the way to let me know where I should follow.
The Pardon Crucifix
Historical Perspective – The Original Indulgences of the Pardon Crucifix:
Granted by His Holiness, Pope Pius X, to the Pius Union of the Pardon Crucifix, the aim of which is to obtain pardon of God and to
pardon one’s neighbor.
1. Whoever carries on his person the Pardon Crucifix may thereby gain an INDULGENCE once a day.
2. For devoutly kissing the Crucifix, an indulgence.
3. Whoever says one of the following invocations before this Crucifix may gain each time an indulgence: “Our father who art in heaven, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. “I beg the
Blessed Virgin Mary to pray to the Lord our God for me.”
4. Whoever, habitually devout to this Crucifix, will fulfill the necessary conditions of Confession and Holy Communion, may gain a
PLENARY INDULGENCE on the following feasts: the Five Wounds of Our Lord, the Invention of the Holy Cross, the Exaltation of the
Holy Cross, the Immaculate Conception and the Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin.
5. Whoever at the moment of death, fortified with the Sacraments of the Church, or contrite of heart, in the supposition of being unable
to receive them, will kiss this Crucifix and ask pardon of God for his sins, and pardon his neighbor, will gain a PLENARY
(Pontifical Rescript of June 1, 1905, to MM. the Abbes Lemann.)
A. Card. Tripepi
Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of indulgences
To the faithful, who devoutly kiss this Crucifix and gain these precious indulgences, we recommend to have in view the following
intentions: To testify love for Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin; gratitude towards our Holy Father, the Pope, to beg for the remission of
one’s sins; the deliverance of souls in purgatory; the return of the nations to the Faith; forgiveness among Christians; reconciliation
among the members of the Catholic Church.
By another Pontifical Rescript of November 14, 1905. His Holiness Pope Pius X has declared that the indulgences attached to the
Pardon Crucifix are applicable to the souls in purgatory.
With Ecclesiastical Sanction
January 15, 1907