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 days after that there was no brain activity and he 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.
Everything began happening so quickly. My father’s wife (not my mother) had asked 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 was at that time preparing to receive confirmation and first communion, Easter, 2017. After resigning the pastorate of a protestant church the previous 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 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).
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.
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
I just became acquainted with your story last night. Glory be to God. I have so much I want to share with you. It has been on my heart since last night to reach out to you and I hope this comment reaches you today on Good Friday, April 2017.
I was born and raised in the Catholic Church and after reaching confirmation at 16 I thought I had graduated from religion. By time I was 20 (1994), I was in the world and out of church. In the summer between my sophmore and junior years of college, I came to know Christ as my Lord and Savior. The next day I began intently studying the scriptures. I returned to the Catholic Church. For the next 2 years I then was between Catholic and Fundamentalist Baptist until I graduated from College. I was then in a period or learning a lot of anti-Catholic rhetoric. When I graduated from college I moved out of state. I was out of church a bit, then returned to the Catholic church, but also a Baptist church where I felt comfortable. In 1999 I full on left Catholic Church, convinced she was in error and I was re-baptized shortly after the millennium in 2000.
I then moved again to Arizona. I was full out Baptist until I discovered Pentecostalism. By 2003 I was a part-time Baptist, becoming full-time Pentecostal. By late 2003 I was full time Assemblies of God (we probably know the same people.) By this time I was in seminary and also searching, searching, searching for the early church. I thought I had found her in the Pentecostal church. By late 2005 I took a new job that would take me to the southeast. It was at this time I needed to get away from the Pentecostal church, I didn’t know how to, this provided me that avenue.
In 2006 I returned to Tucson and returned to the Southern Baptist. I finished my Master’s Degree in Theology, was a bible teacher (and student!!) and was a ministry leader and director. For 8 more years I continued to look for the early church while I found myself fending off (as a teacher) so much anti-Catholicism. In 2014, my wife and I hit a proverbial wall within Protestantism, were wounded deeply and my question was, “Is this how they did it in the early church?” Also I pursued, “How did things work in the early church?”
In November 2014 I discovered the Orthodox Church, of whom and of what I knew nothing. I began intently devouring the early church fathers I so desperately sought. In December 2014 I found myself at a Greek Orthodox Church partaking of a divine liturgy service for Christmas. The priest and I then sat and talked for nearly 2 hours after. Then we went to coffee. For all of 2015 I was a half-hearted evangelical/protestant/baptist and a fully committed Orthodox Christian in my heart. Amazingly it was another job transfer, just in time, I didn’t really know how to leave evangelicalism. Once I was back east, it was easier to really re-discover my transition.
Finally I had to deal with my anti-Catholicism I still had lingering and my anti-papal stance. This was my biggest hurdle, which took me through the rest of 2015. I spent Pascha with the Orthodox church where I live now, but the priest there, (a former Catholic) was so graceful and helped me so much. After Pascha last year year, I fully returned home to the Catholic Church. However, I could not throw off my love for the Orthodox Church and then I discovered the Byzantine Orthodox. I settled in home at a Ukranian Catholic Church which is in the Byzantine Rite. My Roman Rite Priest was instrumental in helping me out with that.
I have so much I want to share with you not only because of what has happened to me and you, but I have many stories now of people I know this is happening too, particularly in Arizona. I will be following your website and thank you. Christ is Risen.
Thank you for sharing your story. I hope we can meet one day. I agree with you; I am hearing more and more stories of Protestants coming home to Sacramental Christianity. I don’t know if you were able to attend Good Friday Vespers, but it was my first, and amazing!
As a former Pentecostal, I can tell you for me, this is what I’ve always wanted, this is what we’ve been reaching for.
Are you attending a Ukrainian Church in Phoenix or Tucson?
Glory to God. Is there an email I can correspond with you more in depth or do you like to keep it in the public domain for others to hopefully be edified? I am fine either way.
I am now in DC. I attend a Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic Church. When I began my journey home, (Oct 2014) I started by attending the Greek Orthodox Church in Tucson. We moved in August of 2015, so during that 10 months, I was working through so much and learning so many things about Orthodoxy and the early church. At the same time I was still in multiple ministries. Once in DC, I really began re-learning about Catholicism and found Eastern Catholicism. I spent through Pascha 2016 with the Eastern Orthodox and I officially went home into the Catholic Church in Spring 2016.
I hope to hear more from you and hope we can share more of what helped each other. I love finding new resources as well and sharing what helped me.