Monday, 21 January 2008

An atheist reborn in the Orthodox Church (1) [Un ateu renăscut în Biserica Ortodoxă]

Praised be the Lord's name, for here I am beginning to post in English (a language that I am quite often more comfortable with than I am with my mother tongue :-) with that kind of story one man comes across once in a lifetime!

The man in the image, Dionysios, is a former atheist, former Anglican, and present day son of the one and only Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Orthodox Church, whose unworthy son I am myself.

Never among the dozens of fascinating people I met in the five countries that God blessed me with seeing in just the last five months (Portugal, USA, Belgium, Spain, UK + stopovers in Holland, Germany and Italy) have I talked to such a man.

May our beloved Mother of God help through the story of this Orthodox brother any of my friends and acquaintances who keep asking "how did you become such a devoted Christian (just how devoted - that's only for the Lord to know!) for the past year?", since She never leaves even the weakest of our prayers unanswered! So here's my humble attempt of telling the story of this man, after having received his permission to share it with whoever may access this blog.

Several years ago, this man had reached the sad conclusion that there is no god whatsoever (no to mention the Holy Trinity Whom he now worships), while all the teachings of the Church of England (that he was only nominally part of) were a lie. He was a complete atheist. And who, among those of us who boast ourselves with a lukewarm faith, could judge him, as belief in God is declining rapidly all over the UK?

The figures I offered a link to in a previous post were even optimistic compared to the newer ones that can be checked here or here. Faithlessness is a terrible wound of nowadays world (especially in this lovely country :-(, yet none of us, the Orthodox believers, should dare judging the nonbelievers!

Then, after his mother died, this atheist was astonished with his feeling of an unexplainable urge to light candles in her memory - but nowhere else than in Orthodox churches! He hadn't had anything to do with the Othodox world before. And he still wasn't convinced that God exists by that time. Later, he would one day reach the Greek island of Zakynthos, where not mere relics but the entire body of Saint Dionysios (1547-1622) is being kept in a church bearing his name.

He didn't even want to spend his holidays in that place, but once he found out about the fame of the Saint who keeps making miracles throughout the Orthodox world, he just said to himself "I have to see this". And probably like him then, millions of us would say the same, before realizing that one should say "see him", since any saint is a living man!

The moment our atheist from the UK touched the locked (yet viewable) tomb of the Saint, his life changed. His body began to shiver, as he felt struck by a sort of "hammer in the head" (as he recalls it), and also by an unequalled blissful feeling. He burst into tears, and weeped like never before in his life, holding on to this thought "I simply can't get out of this church and not believe..."

All the rest of his story – about how this man took the Orthodox Baptism, and now bears the name of the saint who brought him back to life – is worth many other blog posts for which I pray the Lord to make me able to write.

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]

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