Friday, February 22, 2013

Future Priest's Wife Advice, You Sing Alleluia in Lent?..and other random quick takes

1. Lent is funny for Byzantine Catholics. Our fasting can be very strict, but you'll still hear us singing alleluia at the Divine Liturgy on Sundays. I suppose it isn't just a 'Vatican II' concept for every Sunday being a little Easter Sunday because we have been celebrating like this for centuries. The Resurrection is always on our minds. Of course, during the Easter season it is at the forefront. 
2. We make up for our Sunday alleluias at the Presanctified Liturgy during the week. There is no consecration, so it is a long communion service with plenty of prostrations. It can feel like a workout, but we lay people aren't wearing full vestments like the clergy. Here is a parish website with detailed information on the Presanctified Liturgy. And don't forget Byzcath.org for some great forums on the Eastern traditions. 

3. This past week, there was a 'disgruntled' Roman-rite Catholic complaining about irreverence in Mass on my Twitter feed. A few people encouraged her to find her nearest Byzantine-rite Catholic church. As a rule, I don't agree with these sorts of semi-permanent visitors because they really should remain with their baptismal rite. And it is my experience that when the situation changes, they will go back to where they are more comfortable. Certainly, they will really miss First Communion when their child is of age. How about a compromise? She could visit her nearest Byzantine Catholic parish once a month for a little reverence-boaster (although we are not perfect by any means) and continue with her rite most of the time...I do the math when I am having day dreams. The nearest Roman-rite parish to us has 10,000 registered families. Statistically, 25% of Catholics attend Sunday Mass. That makes 2,500 families that are at Mass on the weekends. What if 10% of that number decided to supplement their spiritual life with a 'bonus' Sunday vigil once a month at our mission? That would be about 60 visiting families per week. A girl can dream....
4. and back a bit to #1...when I was Roman-rite Catholic (between 12 and 26 years old), I loved it when we stopped saying the Alleluia during Lent. It was so meaningful and it really made the Alleluias that much brighter during the Easter season. And I loved participating in the Ash Wednesday service and wearing my ashes all day. Now that I am Byzantine Catholic, I follow the fast a bit differently in some ways and these differences have become vital to my celebration of the season. I suppose one can get used to anything and come to love it.

5.The United States doesn't have a lot of traditions that everyone subscribes to because we are a melting pot. So I roast my Thanksgiving turkey happily and watch The Nutcracker during Christmas like everyone else, enjoying the wee bit of tradition just about everyone adheres to. In the same way, I always smile when McDonald's offers their Friday fish sandwich during Lent (now up to $1.49 plus tax!). And I love seeing the smudges of ash on my students' foreheads when they come to class Ash Wednesday evening. My tradition has altered slightly (I don't eat fish on Fridays in Lent!), but it is a tradition in the same spirit. It always feels good to see a bit of Christianity in our post-Christian world. Perhaps the Syrian Orthodox refugees in town don't travel the hour to get to their nearest church more than once a year and perhaps they wear crosses just as a way of screaming "I'm not Muslim!" , but it is still nice to see them wearing crosses

6. With the abdication Of Pope Benedict coming soon, I have been enjoying some of the media attention concerning the Catholic Church. According to the Liber Pontificalis, three popes- Pope St Victor I (ca186-198), Pope St Miltiades (311-14), and Pope St Gelasius (492-496)- were Africans (WHAT! I thought the Church was totally racist!). The last Pope to abdicate was Pope Celestine V in 1294 (WHAT! You mean...the Church is that old?). Pope Benedict will retire to a simple monastery on Vatican grounds (WHAT! I thought he would live on this yacht...oh wait, that is Steven Spielberg's...oops...but all the other Hollywood-types give all their money to the poor...).
But then a lot of the media coverage has been..shall we say...caustic. And don't even get me started on the activity in comment boxes. But I suppose I shouldn't say "Why do non-Christians even care about the election of a Pope?" when I am also happy that a secular company like McDonald's acknowledges my faith. “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” I believe Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen was correct! 

7. I've been writing a post in my head- and failing- for over a week in response to this email:

"My husband was just blessed sub-deacon in November, will be a deacon next year (God willing), and is talking more and more about a call to the priesthood.  I know that he has the support and encouragement of both our parish priest and our bishop. 
I know my husband feels called to the priesthood, but I don't know if I feel called to be a priest's wife?!  Every time I talk to him I feel like I'm just discouraging my husband, and I certainly don't want that.   But, I'm just not sure I can or want to do it!  And, I feel a little bit like I don't have a choice.  If God is really calling him, who am I to say no?  And we really do have a wonderful marriage.  But this path sounds so hard.  We already make so many sacrifices with him just as a sub deacon, I can only imagine when he is a priest. 
I guess all this is to say that I have a lot of doubts!  Am I supposed to be called too?  Or am I just supposed to support?" 

First of all, read and reflect on these posts of mine:

And specifically about your question of "Does a priest's wife need the call?" Yes and no. You must be called to be married to a man who will be ordained deacon and priest, but after that, your vocation differs according to your state in life, talents and abilities. Every priest's wife is different. 
About feeling like you don't have a choice...this gets into sticky personal territory, but as a marriage team you need to be in agreement with these huge decisions and changes. It is similar to a spouse wanting to be a doctor. Just because it is the 'dream' of one spouse to pursue something that is time-consuming and expensive for a greater good does not mean that the other spouse has no say. The other spouse should have 'veto power' and the spouse with a dream should accept this with no bitterness. This is easier said than done. I know one married couple who were married for over fifty years. Although they were Roman-rite, he changed rites and became a deacon in the Byzantine-rite. The wife was very supportive, making him sets of vestments and being supportive of time spent away from the family. When he was ordained a priest, it was too much for her and they divorced. 
There will be times when you feel unimportant. The Sacrament of Holy orders is an eternal mark while marriage is not. You will need to humble yourself. You will need to find your own ministry within the Church and a hobby outside of it. You should cultivate friendships outside of your parish- this is a difficult one for me because I am painfully, increasingly INFP. I pray that you succeed.
It seems to me that you feel like you are on a roller coaster, powerless to get off. I hope you can shake this feeling and make the decision together. It will be a sacrificial journey of faith, but he, who feels called to the priesthood, is married to you. So his vocation is an incredibly specific one- marriage to you, then the priesthood. Although the priesthood is eternal, you come first. It's a paradox, and this is a reason why some people say that a married priesthood cannot work. You need to work on your family's identity. Your attitude and inventiveness, as the mother, helps determine the success of this endeavor. I hope this post helps a little and that every person who read this far will be praying for you! (I also emailed her some advice specific to her situation) 

23 comments:

  1. When I first became a Catholic, I wanted so badly to be a priest's wife (when I was a Protestant, I wanted to be a pastor's wife!). Now I'm married to a non-Catholic so it's highly unlikely that I'll ever be a priest's wife (not to mention that I am Roman Rite). I admire you all so much though!

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    1. Oh shoot. That should have been published under this name. New blog, new name, new hassles :)

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    2. a new blog! I will have to run over there!

      In a way- I am glad that you feel a little call to be a priest's wife and that it probably won't happen (does that sound weird?)- sometimes we want something that can't happen- like me with another baby- so what does that desire mean? How can I mold my desire to my circumstances to God's will and, simply, reality? So for me, it means being a better mom to the four kids I do have and maybe fostering/adopting in the future- for you- there is probably a ministry in the Church that is calling your name...and hey- if you feel called to garden the church's grounds- your husband can help you! he doesn't have to be Catholic to do that! ;)

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    3. Hahaha Kayla, your new identity! :)

      I too am INFP, which weighs on me more the longer I stay home; no kids to join moms groups, far too young (by 30+ years!) for the senior center. At least those things would be more natural places to go, even if I'm a quieter one at first. If only I had local SAHM friends, I could at least go help them with their babies and have lunch.

      Re 3: what if ones true place is with a different rite, but they don't know it yet? Can rite be a call, like a vocation is? That's something I never thought of before. Was it wrong for me and others to suggest that K visit another rite if she was unhappy with her parish? That's something I had never thought about either....

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    4. No- I don't think it was wrong...but...

      and yes- a rite can be a specific call. I believe it is one for me. My family became Roman-rite because that is all we knew (and my one grandparent who was an ex-Catholic was Roman-rite, so I suppose there is a jurisdiction precedent there)- I think it all boils down to being honest with oneself- choosing a new rite as a positive instead of running away from the old one (sort of like I homeschool for mostly positive reasons- not because I am running away from the public schools)

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  2. Over at "National Catholic Register" online last week, blogger Jimmy Akin wrote this post about no-no's during Lent:
    www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/6-liturgical-no-nos-during-lent
    As a Latin-rite Catholic, I'm all for those he has listed, and agree with you on #5. It's Lent so it should be given due respect. A few Eastern-rite Catholics have added comments of their own (for example, see Henry Peresie's comments--you'll have to scroll down a bit to see it) which I found interesting and am glad he shared it! And, thank you to you, Priest's Wife, for sharing this with Latin-rite readers like me on your blog. :) Although we do things different within our respective rites, we're still on the same road during our Lenten journey.

    There was a papal abdication in 1415 during the Great Western Schism--James Hitchcock's new book "History of the Catholic Church" provides a summary of the events (Chap. 8, pp. 215-17). The Holy Father's family has some property in their native Bavaria, Germany so he can visit if he wishes.

    To close out, salmon and shrimp are my seafood items of choice, Lent or not.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Elisa!...Lent is always a good time to remind me that I really like vegetables! ;) My salad of choice is arugula, chopped gala apples with good Parmesan cheese

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  3. I think your response, Matushka (sp?), regarding the suggestion of going to another rite, due to displeasure w/ an existing rite, speaks on switching, for all the wrong reasons. There are some things, even in the Byzantine rite that can be poorly done (my Orthodox choir director friend can attest to this, too). It really takes a priest, and the parish culture to coincide w/ one another in harmony.

    With this same friend of mine, we went to a Novus Ordo mass, at a parish in Vancouver WA (St. James) whose parish priest is a trailblazer of sorts: sporting a cassock; instituting a choir dedicated to gregorian chant; and most of all, adoption of the adoremus hymnal, which covers traditional, or more reverent hymnography, and litanies/responses. It does remind me a little of the Liturgical book, used by St. Irene, and other Byzantine parishes.

    To quote my friend, "i can pray here," referring to the reverent culture of the congregation.

    To respond to your point about a rite being a calling, I'll have to provide that blog you suggested I write, sooner than later :P.

    When I came into the Byzantine rite, I looked into it from a theological angle, and not so much a ritual-driven one.

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    1. yes! and isn't it funny with the corrected Roman-rite translation- they say 'and with your spirit' just like us now? ;)

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  4. I think that there really is a vocation to being married to a cleric. Sometimes God puts two people together in a marriage to make the married priesthood/diaconate work. If the two become one flesh at marriage, the wife in some way shares in her husband's priesthood. Now, that does not make her a priestess of some sort, but I think there must be a vocation in order to share in the priesthood. If you force it, it will not work. The marriage will be unhappy and the ministry will be hampered. However, we can not confuse vocation with a desire or sense of happiness. You may be called to a vocation you are neither happy about or desire, but vocation is about submission!

    That's my Latin Rite take on the married priesthood, but I'm an oddball over here, being that there are only about 125 of us in the US...

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    1. I agree Fr Matthew- vocations are a risky business and not always for earthly happiness- but always JOY- don't you think?

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  5. The three African popes really doesn't prove that the church is not racist (though it's the members, who are racist, not the church, officially) as all three African popes were white/Mediterranian colouring.

    While I was raised in the Roman Rite, I think there is something precious in Eastern rites. It might be the tradition and the ancient feeling of liturgy.

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    1. Hevel_ you are right about coloring...wasn't St Augustine N African...but maybe lighter than coffee with milk...8 wish we could get past color (spoken like a white-right?)

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    2. I think he was N. African, but also white.. maybe Berber? Well, St. Monica is assumed to have been Berber, so who knows. But yeah, colour should be insignificant. That said, I, as a non-Catholic, would be super excited if Cardinal Erdő would become the next pope. I loved some of his writings, even if I don't agree with them, I can see where he is coming from and he is good at application of dogma and scholarship.

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    4. Cardinal Arinze has such a wonderful speaking voice, I could vote for him;)

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  6. In response to the beautiful potential priest's wife...if you are having grave second thoughts before the ordination happens, that is a sign that you are not ready for such a step. And yes Matushka is correct...you are married to each other FIRST and that must take primary focus. I was a married Catholic priest for over 20 years....my wife HATED it...this dissonance finally lead to our divorce and my leaving the active priesthood. Sad....PLEASE seek wise council before agreeing to your husband's ordination...seek GOD'S will for yourself. God does want us to be JOYFUL...unfortunately my x-wife was miserable in the path I choose, and it negatively affected my parish, my child, my vocation and even at times my sanity. I will be praying for you!!!

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    1. Anonymous priest- We all would love to hear more- to learn how to avoid your sorrow! Did you 'change the rules' of your marriage and spring the priesthood on her? Or did she think she was okay (or even happy with it) but the stress of the position was too much? Please reply! If you do and find that you are writing a book- email me at remnantofremnant@gmail.com and you can be a guest post. Your story is an important one for anyone discerning and I don't want my (hopefully always happy) story to be the only one out there

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  7. Loving the commentary, here, because of the perspective of the other half being represented. A part of me is still conflicted over the single life, and married life; and which one I should devote myself wholly to. I see the value in each, but I also see their respective side effects.

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    1. about vocation discerning...it was an 'easy' choice for me (even though it hasn't always been easy)- I think when you follow God's will for your life, you see God's hand in your history...does that make sense?

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    2. Yes, it does, Matushka. God's hand in history is a way to put it!

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  8. Dear Matushka....no I did not change the rules of the marriage on my wife and then ask for ordination. I attended seminary in New York, moved to the Midwest...was in a parish, met my future wife and told her that I was headed for ordination and if she was sure that she could handle the stresses of this type of life. She said that she thought she was ready and that she somewhat knew what she was getting into. She stuck with it for several years...miserable but she stuck with it. I was miserable as well as she shared in nothing with my ministry, parish work, nor the people, amid my encouragement. For her, I believe she saw my priesthood as just another job. It was hard for her and for me as well, as my people wanted and deserved the active participation of my wife. Such was not to be and the longer I was in active ministry the more she withdrew.

    My advise for any potential priest's wife...get good and wise counseling both before and after the ordination. Parish life is rough at best...unfortunatly, I felt that it was best for us to leave active priesthood, but by that time the marriage was pretty much over. (Matushka I would be happy to speak with you about what happened, but let us do that in another forum...I'll email you.) Short message to guys seeking marriage and priesthood....BE CAREFUL WHOM YOU MARRY. Nothing can prepare one for the priesthood and the stresses it put on a family...only a very special CALLED woman should tread here...for your vocation is so sacred, unique and special that it demands heroic virtue for the husband and wife! With grade and cooperation with that grace it can be done and done quite well...but you BOTH MUST be CALLED to this sacrifical way of life!



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    1. Thanks for replying! and I agree with your last statement

      One way to help a bit for future priests- have the future spouse 'shadow' another matusha- I lived with a priest and his family for a summer in Romania (even though we don't live there now)- It really helped me see what I was 'getting into'

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