Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Good and Faithful Servant- 7 QuickTakes

If one googles the key words "priest wife," this article by an Orthodox source comes up as the first website. There are points that I can understand, but it is rather negative and depressing. Then, a few clicks down, it is the sad, scandalous story of Cutie who abandoned his vows to the celibate, Roman-rite priesthood to begin an affair with a single mother, not even bothering to ask his bishop for laicization before he began the 'romance.' In a later post, I might develop the positive aspects of being married to a Byzantine Catholic priest and hopefully Google will pick up my writing, but for now, I'll just share some reasons why I think my priest husband is a good and faithful servant.

1. He is obedient to our bishop. Of course, sometimes obedience means moving across the country with a four-month baby and a month-long pregnancy- not easy. In the Catholic Church, we do have a hierarchy; his obedience to our bishop is a reflection of his obedience to God. Much like a parent (who is not perfect) who asks the child to follow the rules for his or her own good, the bishop (who is not perfect, but worthy of respect) is a spiritual father for the priest.
2. He meets people where they are. We have a faithful parishioner who is a trucker. When he is unable to get to Divine Liturgy, my husband will call him and tell him the homily (short and sweet, I promise). Of course, this is a testimony to how minuscule our community is, but I still think it is great! He has done home Masses recently for Roman-rite Catholic visitors to our mission for their anniversaries. He does single-language Masses as well as bi-lingual Masses with a little 'Spanish lingo' throw in. It just depends on the congregation.
3. He supports himself and his family without Church funds. This is also a matter of opinion, but we prefer the money issue to be off the table. As a board-certified hospital chaplain, he doesn't need to pressure our little missions. This isn't to say that church communities shouldn't support their clergy, we just like this arrangement for us.
4. He is nice to kids. This isn't just because he is a dad himself! He has struck a nice balance between ignoring crying babies and admonishing an older child after the Liturgy to behave better. He invites all boys up to the altar and doesn't expect perfection, just reverence.
5. He is good with the elderly. Perhaps he has developed this skill because of his work at the hospital, but he always was respectful to his grandparents. As a priest, being a minister and servant to the elderly is only going to increase in importance as our population ages. I think that our older parishioners can feel the love and respect he has for them.
6. He has used his bi-ritual faculties to help in bigger parishes. My husband was quite busy during Advent, helping at parishes for their reconciliation services.
7. He is true to our tradition. Even if he does goofy things like joke & play soccer after church in the parking lot or 'low' things like scrub a donut tray, he always remembers our sacred traditions during the Divine Liturgy. I pray for God to protect him because he really is an example of a priest with a servant's heart.

16 comments:

  1. I've often wondered why RC put such emphasis on a celibate clergy. I'm Anglican (high church) and we've always had married priests. I think it makes them more approachable. I always thought it odd that a single man would be handing out marital/family advice.

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  2. I read the other article in addition to yours and I think it's worth noting that the person who published it couldn't identify a source. So really how acurate is it?

    I love that your post defends your husband, but it's sad that you feel that you have to do that. Your husband should be honored and respected for who he is and what he does just like anybody else's husband.

    We have a Byzantine Church in our area and since reading your post, it's made me intreged. Perhaps one day I'll pop in there and go to Mass instead of my Roman Rite.

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  3. Deltaflute- yes- I remember that the article is an anonymous source- but everytime I search priest wife, it pops up first! So this, I feel, negative article would be the first thing people see if they want info. And the rest of MY blog post, just a little bragging about my favorite priest :)

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  4. F-farms- Celibacy has been a long tradition with the Roman-rite and we Easterners also have celibate monks (and celibate parish priests- depends on the bishop) and bishops. Maybe I'll get my favorite Byzantine monk to write a guest post on celibacy because he could explain it much better than I and also respects the fact that my husband is married.
    About an unmarried man giving marriage and/or kid advice- It just depends on the man! I have had great confessions with parenting advice from celibates. Like so much, it seems to work on a case by case basis. Remember that every priest was part of a 'normal' family growing up and they probably have siblings, etc to help them keep a grasp on family life. In my opinions, it seems that monks have more support with their celibacy than priests all alone in a big parish.
    Thanks for commenting- I need to develop this idea further

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  5. Thanks Kathleen- I was nervous to write it and then I thought I didn't pick the right 7 things...just had to stop editing and post the thing! :)

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  6. I think that was a beautiful and positive post about your busband. I also think it could serve as an example of all a priest is called to do, which your husband does in addition to being a husband and father!

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  7. First time visit here from Orthocath's blog. What a lovely tribute from a wife to a husband.

    On another note, I am an Orthodox Christian and attend a parish with Russian roots. Whenever I am confronted with the reality of Byzantine Catholicism, a sadness comes over me. Sadness because we are not united in the Orthodox faith, that is, Byzantine Catholics being under the authority of the Roman pope, and the Orthodox Church rejecting papal jurisdiction and infalibility .

    Nonetheless, only God sees the heart of each person. I have no doubt that there are faithful Christians among all various Christian churches. Still, the schisms are a mark against our Christian faith.

    Lord have mercy on all of us!

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  8. I absolutely love this post! I'm Roman Catholic, and just heard of a priest who is part of the Diocese near me who converted (I can't remember from what) who is a priest and married. It is tough, but beautiful too in it's own special way...the different ways God allows different people to serve just reminds me of the Scripture "one body, many parts" (sorry for not having the direct quote)...

    ...And on the note about advice from non-married persons...from a counseling perspective...I always say this: How can you reject the advice of a priest as irrelevant for your married life because they are not married themselves, then you will never find a good or relevant counselor. No one is or ever will be in your exact situation. It is the job/training of that person in the seat of "counselor", therapist and priest, to help you...no matter what their past experience or current experience in life is. If your son/daughter was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, would you only let someone who has Schizophrenia treat them? I know that's a bit extreme, but gets the point across.

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  9. SM- yes, I was thinking about that as well- my husband has never (thank God!) had a chronic illness, yet he counsels people every day near death. It is the training and also the experience. I don't know anything about the confessional, but he has told me he has 'heard it all'- so I assume he is counseling post-abortive women, drug addicts, etc

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  10. Wonderful post! God bless your husband & your family! I have a hard enough time trying to defend the Eastern tradition of married priests to my Roman Catholic friends...I can't imagine how they'd react were my husband ordained...?? I think they are finally coming to the realization that we are indeed Catholic...small "o" orthodox.

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  11. Johnson- keep defending our traditions- because what you are really defending is the unity of Holy Mother Church!

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  12. What a blessing your husband is to so many!

    I had a conversation with someone who pointed out a way of seeing vocations that is quite simple but no one had shared it before.

    In the modern western culture, people talk of discerning a vocation to the priesthood, religious life, or marriage (and some controversially speak of being single as a vocation). In the East, there are only two possibilities for vocation: celibacy or marriage. Out of those, the *church* might call a person for *ministry* such as the priesthood. That's how we have both celibate and married priests--they are called by the church to fill particular needs. Priesthood isn't the vocation.

    For example, your husband has many responsibilities by taking care of a family, parish, and by having a second job. He couldn't do all of that and meet the needs of a large and active parish, but because he is assigned to a small mission, he's able to do all of these things and do them well for the glory of God. A celibate man would not be the best choice for that parish which could not easily pay for his needs or keep him active enough. Someone like your husband (and you!) was who the Church needed for that parish.

    The Latin Church developed a bit differently, though. By allowing more than one Liturgy/Mass per day and extraordinary ministers of Communion, their parishes and Masses can be quite large. There's plenty of work for one man who dedicates his life to it, and in many cases for 3 or 4. (They tend to be overworked as it is as there is more need than there are priests.) It wouldn't easily allow married men to meet both the parish's and the family's needs in the majority of today's Latin parishes. Small, rural parishes where priests are isolated (and often covering 3-4 parishes that are a great distance from each other) would be the exception which would do very well to see how the East handles similar circumstances. It would be a good place to start introducing married men if they were going to do so.

    I personally support the West allowing married men to be ordained, but think it is impractical to think they could all of a sudden announce it and it would solve all their problems overnight like some people seem to think would happen.

    I read an interesting article on the topic recently: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/fr.-cutie-fallen-priest-writes-self-justifying-book/

    Thanks for putting yourself out there and for jointly answering the church's call for ministry--as your role in your husband's ministry cannot be minimized. You are a blessing to many.

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  13. C.A.- sorry it took me so long to approve your comment- it was bounced to 'spam'- I guess it IS a little long :)

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  14. ACK! Brevity is something I continuously need to work on. The link I included didn't help any, I'm sure. I'm sorry.

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  15. Thank you for teaching! I love learning!

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thoughtful comments are welcome to the conversation! (moderation on posts older than a week...)

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