Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You Know You're a Priest's Kid When...

...the oldest lady in church causes you great pain and you must grin and bear it!

We Romanian Byzantine Catholics commemorate the deceased a lot. We have the funerals (plural because there is more than one service) when the person dies and then we pray for them again at six months and a year. After a year, the deceased person is remembered with the rest of that family's departed with a yearly parastas.

The parastas is a simple ceremony before the final blessing with prayers, songs, bread (normally a challah-type loaf), and wine. At the front of the church and in front of the icon screen, a few men will raise the small table with the bread and wine, bobbing it gently up and down in time to the chant. While singing, the people put their hands on each others' shoulders. It is a beautiful ritual.

One of our jobs as clergy family is to help the bereaved have a beautiful ceremony. This means that we need to swallow our emotions and sing the songs boldly because the family will probably not be able to sing much as they are thinking of their loved ones. 

So we sang and the people came closer to the parastas table. They put their hands on each others' shoulders. The wife of the remembered put her small, withered, 95-year old hand on Girl #1's shoulder. But the old lady needed the support of her cane as well. She shifted her cane until it came to rest on top of Girl #2's foot. Girl did nothing, afraid that the old lady would fall if she moved. And she kept the cane there for the duration of the ceremony, occasionally resting her weight fully on the cane. 

Girl #2 joked that it was good that Mrs. P is very light. 

It wasn't until our old lady was invited to pour a bit of wine over the bread- in the shape of a cross while the priest says "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness therein"- that Girl #2 was free on the cane impaling her foot.

Sometimes this is what we do as clergy family. We support our church family members and sometimes we suffer a bit for it. We try not to be doormats, but Girl #2 wanted to support Mrs. P in her grief without embarrassing her in her age and frailty. And since this is a semi-anonymous blog, I thought I could be proud of my daughter's actions and share without embarrassing our Mrs P. Eternal memory to Mr. P!


  1. God bless her and her patience with the elderly!

  2. What a gentle heart your daughter has! Bless her!

  3. Aww! Sweet girl! I enjoyed reading about your rituals. I'm a priests wife too.


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