The paths of the Lord are inscrutable.
Sometimes a person, who all his life lived without God, on the threshold of
death receives faith, desires to be baptized, that very sacrament about which
the Lord said: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he
cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). But there is no priest
In such situations the responsibility of each
Orthodox Christian is to perform baptism "for fear of death." For
this one needs to sprinkle holy water, or even plain water, on the ill person
and repeat thrice: "The servant of the Lord (full Orthodox name) is
baptized in the name of the Father. Amen. And the Son.
Amen. And the Holy Spirit. Amen." This baptism is
considered valid, and if the sick person becomes well, it is enhanced in Church
with the sacrament of Anointment.
Baptizing a person who is
unconscious against his will, taking advantage of his bodily weakness, should
not be done under any circumstances. The goal does not justify the
means. Sometimes it also happens, that one baptized,
but distant from the Church, on the threshold of death also wants to confess
his sins. Here also each Orthodox Christian of course, if it is impossible to
call a priest, is required to accept the confession of the dying. Question any
grave sins — killings, abortions, adultery, depravity in all its forms, theft,
alcoholism, participation in sects, ties with satanic power through astrology,
extrasensory, medicine men. After the confession, a secret to be kept until the
grave, fervently pray God that He be merciful to the penitent.
And if there is even the smallest chance of
calling a priest to the deathbed, one must perform this kind deed, no matter
what the difficulty.
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