Monday, February 22, 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?