Thursday, May 29, 2014

m-ai întrebat: difficulties with married clergy & other questions answered by Father

a reader asks: "You are usually very positive about being married to a priest, but nothing is perfect. What are some negative things about married clergy? And better yet...what are some things that are difficult in your husband's opinion- being married and a priest?"
Balancing spiritual and secular things can be difficult. I suppose time management and money management are also things in life that I am always checking to make sure that I am ministering to the Church and also the domestic church.  
It would be easier from a social standpoint to live in Romania where married clergy- Orthodox and Catholic- are the norm and celibate priests are very rare and usually living in a monastery. Even though most Roman-rite clergy and people are accepting of me and my family, being married and having people be shocked can be stressful. 
Because the money question is usually the top concern from lay people about any possible clergy/celibacy change, I would like to reassure them that I am not 'costing' the Church any money. But because of this, I work a full-time job outside the Church as director of spiritual care.chaplaincy at a local hospital.  So, I am very busy with multiple ministries. This could be a recipe for burn-out, but with family support, at this point, I am doing well, depending on God's grace. Marriage and the priesthood are my vocations. Being married and married to a priest are my wife's vocations. 

What are some positive things about being a priest? more specifically- a married priest? 

Serving people is the best part of being a priest. I like to hear confessions and encourage people in their spiritual journeys. Preparing homilies and preaching are my favorite parts of my priestly vocation as well as encouraging boys and men to serve at the altar and discern possible clergy vocations. It is a privilege to minister to people through all the aspects of their lives and to learn from them as well.
My joy is multiplied by seeing my wife and children's involvement in the Church. They have their own ministries within our church- and even their support in tolerating the irregular, busy schedule is a gift to me. Being married, I also have the support of the grace from marriage and being lifelong friends with my wife who supports, encourages and depends of me. 
Are you obliged to recite the Horologion office privately and daily, as Roman priests must do with the Breviary/Liturgy of the Hours (L.O.T.H.)?
I am obligated to have an active prayer life, using the Byzantine Daily Worship and sacred readings such as the Bible and writings of the Church Fathers. During seminary, all daily prayers from the Horologian were said and every deacon and then priest receives the standard prayer books to continue a stable prayer life after ordination. Promises of specific prayers said daily were not made to my bishop at my ordination, however. 

Who are some of your favorite saints?
I greatly admire St Augustine for his conversion story, St John Chrysostom for his Divine Liturgy and homilies, Blessed Theresa of Calcutta for her example of true service, Saint John Paul for his respect for the East, and Saint Basil with his entire family. 

What is a favorite Bible verse?
These two verses come to mind:
Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. ---Matthew 10:16
No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.---John 15:15

Do you have a favorite saying/writing from a Church Father? 
Here is one: "The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love. St. Paul would not speak so earnestly about this subject without serious reason; why else would he say, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord?” Because when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends, and relatives praise the result. Great benefits, both of families and states, are thus produced. When it is otherwise, however, everything is thrown into confusion and turned upside-down."  –St John Chrysostom- Homily on Ephesians 5:22-23

Do you think it would be a good idea to have a Byzantine Office of Readings like in the present Roman L.O.T.H.?
I believe our horologian and Byzantine traditions are sufficient for our spirituality. Those of us in Western countries are beginning to strengthen our Eastern traditions with great vespers and other services. This, in my opinion, is what we should develop. One thing that is missing for my eparchy are approved translations from the Romanian of some hymns and prayers. 

What Bible do you use for lectio divina?
I use the 'Orthodox Study Bible,' the Douay Rheims translation as well as the New American Bible. 

Curious Roman/Latin rite reader here: How does the process take for someone like yourself to receive bi-ritual facilities and get permission from both Eastern and Latin-rite diocesan bishops?
In general, both bishops must give faculties- beginning with the 'original rite' bishop. Also, there needs to formation/education and the need for help in the second rite. Bi-ritual faculties are given only when it is the 'perfect storm' of obedience/education/need. Also, bi-ritual faculties are given for only the diocese, so a Byzantine Catholic priest might have faculties for his own rite throughout the country but only Roman-rite faculties for a relatively small space of the Roman-rite diocese

Have you read the comments of Pope Francis at his meeting this weekend with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew? What are your thoughts? It sounds a lot like he is advocating for a major reform of the papacy. And end to the Schism in our lifetime?
Unfortunately, I have not been able to read a lot about this visit. But he does seem to be emphasizing that we all come from Jerusalem- from Christ. Perhaps he was showing that more important than Rome, Constantinople, Moscow is Jerusalem. We have 40 years before 1,000 years of the Great Schism. It is Christ's will that we be one. The Holy Father seems to be setting the stage for the possibility of unity- not changing the papacy, but reassuring those not iin union now that he will not change their traditions that are holy. 

Father, Matushka was Latin Rite when you met her, right? Could you give some advice to those Byzantine Catholic men who might be discerning both priesthood and marriage with a Latin Rite woman?
Whether marrying a Byzantine Catholic or Roman-rite woman, she should be a partner in your (possible) future ministry. Personally, it would be very difficult for our family life if my wife was busy at a different Roman-rite church. Our family works together as much as possible and we worship together. I would be very wary of marrying a woman who did not share the spirituality; the bishop might be reluctant to ordain a married man whose wife is not a partner in his ministry.


  1. Very clear and concise responses to the questions Father. And thanks be to God for the 12th anniversary of your ordination (which I winessed). I am very proud to have you as my son in law.

  2. Thank you, for your responses, Father. I especially think the point about the wife (or husband) willing to share the spirituality is very important.

  3. The money problem would not be a problem at all if Catholics were not cheapskates. Many people in my Ukrainian Church put single dollar bills into the collection plate. Our priests have to work outside jobs to support their families. I think we need to bring into the Church the idea of tithing 10 percent like many Protestants do. Our priests should not have to work outside jobs. If you have 70 families in your parish and they give about 80 dollars a month that's 1000 dollars a year and a total income of 70,000 dollars. That should be enough to support a priest and his family. Other sources of donations could pay for church building upkeep etc.


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