Sunday, February 21, 2016

the unvarnished truth about being a Byzantine Catholic priest's wife

..."I first came across your blog in 2012 & I couldn't believe how bitter and resentful it read. Honestly, it made me sad, and worried that a Pani would be bitter & resentful towards the church, the parishioners, & her husband. There have been many entries that I wouldn't want anyone who was looking into the Byzantine church or married clergy to read because so much of what I have read from this blog has been negative. I have read articles & books by Presbyteras that highlight the struggles AND the good times, & I haven't seen that with your blog. But, I know nothing as I am not a priest wife; just a concerned Byzantine parishioner." a message on my Facebook account

What is the unvarnished truth of being a Byzantine Catholic priest's wife? We have to be perfect for all people at all times. There is an old Protestant joke that goes like this
The Perfect Pastor preaches exactly 10 minutes. He condemns sin roundly, but never hurts anyone's feelings. He works from 8 a.m. until midnight, and is also the church janitor.
The Perfect Pastor makes $40 a week, wears good clothes, drives a good car, buys good books, and donates $30 a week to the church. He is 29 years old and has 40 years' worth of experience. Above all, he is handsome.
The Perfect Pastor has a burning desire to work with teenagers, and he spends most of his time with the senior citizens. He smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his church. He makes 15 home visits a day and is always in his office to be handy when needed.
The Perfect Pastor always has time for church meetings and all of its committees, never missing the meeting of any church organization. And he is always busy evangelizing the unchurched.

But pastors aren't perfect in the real world and neither are priests' wives! The writer above claims that, while other clergy wives' blogs highlight struggles and good times, I focus on the bad. I am bitter and resentful to my church, parishioners and husband. Posts that are more serious have been tagged with the 'disappointment' and 'loss' labels. If you are interested, those labels are found at the bottom of this post. Maybe these are the "bitter" and "resentful" posts?
Dear readers, have you read these posts- 
What is Christian Marriage?  - am I resentful to my husband here?
An Argument against married clergy- I seem to respect my husband here....
Advice for Clergy families- is this too realistic? Should we pretend it is all rainbows? 
15th anniversary a few years back- I rarely discuss our specfic marriage relationship- nope- no bitterness or resentment here! 
Is this the post that is all bitter & against the parishioners? How to be a perfect priest's wife 
This post is a little opinionated about a parishioner- but funny! Strong Cheesy Opinions

Dear writer of message- you don't "know nothing" because you aren't a priest's wife. Your opinions and feelings matter. But first of all, if you have read occasionally for four years and were so disturbed by my posts, I wish you had written me sooner. I truly don't know which posts you are talking about. I stand by everything I have written. There are no lies here. I do believe I have written like those other clergy wives you have spoken about- I write about the good times and the struggles. When I do wrte about the struggles, it is usually in response to a young person who is discerning a marriage/clergy vocation. Would it be right for me to say that there will never be heartache? Because this is heartache for me right now as a priest's wife- to be scorned for four years by a fellow Byzantine Catholic- to be misunderstood- to be treated as a non-person. You really are saying that a priest's wife must be like the 'Perfect Pastor' from the joke. And it is not possible. 
Most likely, message writer, you will not read this post. I will take the challenge and write some deeply personal, positive posts about church, parishioners and our marriage. I can not un-do years of posts that you claim are bitter and resentful. First of all, I disagree with you 100%. I feel like any person who is interested in the Byzantine rite might find some positive help here. 
But I do see that I could be more personal and positive. I will start right here.
What did Father get Priest's Wife for Saint Valentine's day? (oops- secular holiday inspired by Roman saint....Latinization!) 
two dozen roses- red and pink, a box of good chocolates, a Thai dinner with 2 other couples, and a hand-decorated jar filled with pieces of papers labeled with weekly surprises. 
What did Priest's Wife give Father for the holiday? 
Brussels sprouts made the way he likes them, a cheese plate (four cheeses), some plants in the front yard that I planted, my undying devotion and appreciation for all the work he does- especially at the hospital (I call it 'the coal mine') 
Never have I been bitter or resentful of him or his vocation. I regret my mistakes and imperfections, but this is exactly where we should be. I am consoled whenever it is a hard day that God has led me to this life from the day I was born. How could I be bitter and resentful with that assurance? 

21 comments:

  1. Our perfection is a process we're going to be on until the end of the grace, thank you for your thoughts and this wonderful blog....:)

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    1. so true! Someone somewhere wrote about the Fast thusly- "fast more than last year and less than next year"- may we (and right now, especially me) always go forward towards theosis!

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  2. That must have been a painful email to read. Four years is a surprisingly long time to wait to read you before writing you. I think that all life is a mixed bag and your blog reflects that. I actually don't have the feeling that your blog is overly negative or that you are bitter. I'm so sorry!

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    1. mixed bag- yes! The writer is question messaged me that one specific post that came to mind was the one titled '7 reasons not to marry your Byzantine Catholic seminarian boyfriend'-I stand by every word- and every reason has a postive qualifier!.... But I think I am going to write a new post titled 7 reasons to marry ...etc etc

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  3. That must have been a painful email to read. Four years is a surprisingly long time to wait to read you before writing you. I think that all life is a mixed bag and your blog reflects that. I actually don't have the feeling that your blog is overly negative or that you are bitter. I'm so sorry!

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  4. I first came across your blog around the same time (2012). I'm a minor cleric (Reader) in a Byzantine rite Catholic Church. I've always found your blog to be very good and humane. A real priest wife talking about real life, with its ups and downs. I just love the homeschooling part - it's tough homeschooling the children, most people just send them off to the nearest school. And yes, you are absolutely right when you say that you clean the Church, prepare everything for weddings, sing... Everything to help your priest husband. There are tons of love in there, helping him with the hard work in the church. I liked the experience of reading your blog so much that I keep coming. No one is perfect - me, you, your husband or your children. The person who sent you the message definitely got one thing right (self pity moment - poor me!) - he/she knows nothing about this subject. She is not a priest wife. And he/she says that she read about other Presbyteras. I wonder if she ever had the opportunity to meet a real one in real life. Having said all this, thank you for all these years sharing your experiente with us.

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    1. thanks for your kind words- is your bishop going to raise you to the diaconate or priesthood? If you lived near us, you would be sure to be- my husband has a spot spot for deacons as he was one for 2 1/2 years (pretty long for a married man w us- he worked w the bishop)

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    2. Well, in fact I was studying for the deaconate under the previous bishop, but things got a little complicated after I was tonsured a Reader. The present bishop seems unwilling to ordain anyone, much less someone who does not have an Arabic surname (I'm Greek Melkite, but looking at my full name you will easily see that I'm not Arabic at all). So I can relate to your posts that describe "real life" with its ups and downs. And no, I'm not in the US... Unfortunately, I cannot accept your offering to help your husband as a Deacon, though it really is a tempting offering... :)

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  5. I love your blog. Don't change a thing. Or change it if you feel like you need to. I say that with the understanding that you've got a wide range of emotions and, because you're the priest's wife, you can't always talk about the "low" emotions in your community. But you may feel the freedom to express them here. It's good that you do. It's healthy that you do. Don't stuff your sadness or anger. And try not to judge those feelings as good or bad, because they are neither. However, you are made in God's image and YOU are good.

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    1. AMP- what kind words! I do invite constructive criticism or the opportunity to clarify/explain because I would like this blog to be a place to learn about the married priesthood, etc- and 100% of the life is good- how is this possible? if it is God's will- it is 100% good- even when the world has got us down.

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  6. I find no resentment...but plenty a dose of reality, which I very much appreciate! Bless you...yours is no easy role to fill in the Church...but I think it comes through clear as a bell that you love your vocation in all its ups & downs!

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    1. thanks Pilgrims9...it is times like these that I realize my husband really has the grace for his vocation! Me? I am working on it!

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  7. did you explain to them that they are entitled to a refund for every penny they have paid you to write this blog? (it's a simcha fisher line, though i wish i had thought of it.)

    i'd say more but everything else would be blisteringly snarky.

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  8. haha Kh Jen!...but still, I think you know me by now- I detest being misunderstood by people who should be on 'my team' (fellow believers, etc)

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  9. I will surely add that reader to our prayers. I can't imagine simmering on that level of emotion for so long - we can't possibly presume to know exactly who and what is behind the writing on the screen. Your response is very graceful. Though I'm not Byzantine, I am Catholic, and I appreciate the glimpse into your world. Keep up the good work!

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    1. It is probablt for the best to get stuff off one's chest right away- my daughter won a third essay contest where they spelt her name wrong on the certificate- 3rd time was the charm for tears and an explosion- she should have notified them right away the first time

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  10. Perhaps the writer who attacked your worthy blog is suffering from mental illness. You probably already have forgiven the person; but if not - go for it.

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    1. I don't think the message writer has a peoblem- I just get under her skin- this happens to the best of us with people

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  11. For what it's worth, there are people out there who "hate read" blogs, (it's a real thing, surprisingly enough) and it may be this poor woman just can't stop coming back for some reason. It could for sure be spiritual, or it could just be a mean streak, but yeah, to go 4 years of silent consumption and then level an accusation at you? Pretty weird.

    I appreciate your refreshing style and unique take on life as a cleric's wife, and judging by the comments on this thread I'm in good company :)

    Love,
    a fellow Catholic mommy blogger with all kinds of readers. Seriously. You wouldn't believe some of the crazy.

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    1. 'hate read' blogs- yes! at least I am too small to be on 'GOMI" (whew- this INFP couldn't handle it)- they usually go after monetized blogs anyways...

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    2. 'Mama needs Coffee'- 'blogger'- you are being modest :) you are certainly big enough to get lots of different readers! :)

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