Wednesday, March 9, 2016

7 reasons to say YES & marry your Byzantine Catholic seminarian boyfriend

In 2013, I wrote a post entitled '7 reasons NOT to marry your Byzantine Catholic seminarian boyfriend,' I was informed recently that this post betrayed my bitter and resentful heart, the ranting of a priest's wife who perhaps does not want to be one. As you might surmise, I disagree 100% with my critic and stand by my realistic view of married clergy life. I did feel inspired, however, to write a positive post with no qualifications or cautionary tales. Read my 'don't marry him' post for the other side if you like!

  "Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline." G.K. Chesterton 
seminarians in the old country wear clerics... and get married in them
1. Why marry a seminarian? He is bound to be the spiritual head of the household- your own Saint Joseph, protector and provider for your family.

2. You will build character. You will be challenged. You will work on virtue. 
3. You can be assured that your husband is constantly praying for grace in marriage and for your salvation. Lots of husbands are like this, but a priest-husband is the best of them all when it comes to prayer for family. He sees the 'wages of sin' up close every day, so a holy priest-husband is alert to attacks from the evil one and prays and uses the sacraments to ward them off. 

4. You will build a strong family culture- father, mother and children. Besides confession and financial council meetings, the family will do just about everything with father, helping the church ministry. Your clergy family culture will mean that you all depend on each other because not many other people will understand your life with its triumphs and challenges. You will develop plenty of family culture inside jokes and 'auto-pilot' ways of getting through the week. Family traditions will come about- very different than other families, but good for you! Perhaps Saint Nicholas does not come until the afternoon; this was true for us for about 12 years. We are also blessed to have extended family comprised of devout Catholics because it really is we plus the extended family 'against the world.' 

5. You really will be the reason why he is able to minister to people on the saddest, most tragic, worst days of their lives. Knowing that there is a family at home depending on him will motivate him to work hard for the kingdom of God- and for you. Knowing that there is a wife waiting at home with a cup of chamomile tea might make it easier to make a sick call in the middle of the night!
6. You will be honored by being close to God is His sacraments. You will most likely need to be at every marriage, baptism and funeral to support your husband in his ministry. You will probably help at the house blessings as well, seeing families in their natural setting and getting to know them better. Because we borrow space from a Roman-rite parish, we have to reserve the Eucharist in our home for the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy on weekdays during the Great Fast. There is a lot of grace waiting for you and the children there in the little tabernacle. 

7. When he is dismissed, discounted, disrespected because of his marital status, you and the children will make it worth it. You, wife of a Byzantine Catholic or Orthodox seminarian, will have a front-row seat to seeing God's grace in action! The sacraments of marriage and holy orders really do work if we let them!

our 2016 read aloud revival continues... great books every day

I am attempting to read aloud to the little ones (8 and 6) every day of 2016.... we are finishing up The Trumpet of the Swan as our chapter read aloud and have added a great one- 
The Wind in the Willows is perhaps the greatest example of how a classic book is simplified and sometimes changed to become a proper Disney film. While I enjoyed the Disney cartton and the Disneyland ride depicting Mr Toad's 'wild ride,' the book is so much more. The rich, description-filled language makes a great read aloud. I waffle between Rat, Mole and Badger being my favorite character; Toad never makes the list.
Millions of Cats is a simple book with just three characters- an old man, an old woman, and their kitten (plus a million more cats). I love the wood cut-tyeillustrations.
I hope you know Caps for Sale! It is a classic.
The Story of Ferdinand is perfect for my gentle boy. Sometimes it is okay to not be what people expect you to be. Not everyone has to be ambitious and aggresive. I suppose the message of this book is not very American!
I challenge you to read Sylvester and the Magic Pebble to your kids without a tear in your eye! William Steig is a master story teller. It is also refreshing to read a story about an intact family that simply loves each other. The conflict comes from a magic pebble and a lion...
The Tale of Three Trees is a perfect Lent and Easter read aloud. Three trees grow and help Jesus at different times of His earthly life. We are reading much more- but I didn't want this post to be crazy long....
What are you reading aloud to your kids lately? (These are affliate links- this mean if you click on the link and then buy something at Amazon while that 'cookie' is active, I will receive a very very small portion of what you spend- thank you for considering this)

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? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

a successful resolution for 2016 (so far)- reading aloud every day

Life gets crazy, I teach at the college late, and I needed a push to read aloud to my children. I made it a resolution for the new year, and I told them. They keep me honest. 
My children are 16, 15, 8 and 6; all are fluent readers and book-lovers except for the baby. She would be considered behind if we were at a brick and mortar school, but we are working slowly as usual in our homeschool. My gentle, slow and steady method of teaching reading has been successful but perhaps 'behind' by today's standards. Children #1 and #3 were fluent at the end of second grade and child #1 was fluent at the end of first grade. 
One reason why they love reading, I believe, is because I read to them a lot. With only one non-reader, I feel like I wasn't reading to them enough. My resolution was to read a chapter from our chapter book and one picture book a day every day- bare minimum. So far, so good. Here is what we have read this year so far (affliate links if you click through and buy) ....
our chapter books- finishing up is so satifying when Nellie gets her comeuppance, and the Christmas chapter is so wonderful. I love stories that depict true girl power in a context of family and morality. My children listens and wondered to the portions about church days. They cannot understand going to church in a space that is simply an empty box with no vestments, icons, stautes or Eucharist. They can appreciate the Bible verse memorization, though and poor Laura's humilation when the teacher gave her the shortest verse to memorize. 
We are reading The Trumpet of the Swan. I adore the language of the prideful cob swan father; his vocabulary is so challenging to my six-year old, but he uses so many synonyms in a row that everyone understands the new words in context. This is a story that is really all about overcoming disability to the best of one's ability... lots of lessons here, but not preachy or heavy-handed. 
some of our 2016 picture books so far...mostly for fun
I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems is a new favorite. Gerald the elephant decides to try a tiny bit of slop (part of 'pig culture') so he can understand his best friend, Piggie. Elephant and Piggie books consistently depict strong, loving friendship and empathy. We love them!
The Flowers' Festival by Elsa Beskow is vintage illustration at its best with a beautifully gentle, simple story. The only conflict is that the troublesome weeds want to join the flowers in their Midsummer party. I am on the hunt for her other books.  
We keep our Christmas books in a bin, hidden away; it only comes out during St Philip's Fast (Advent) and the Christmas season. Mr Willowby's Christmas Tree is a new favorite. What happens when the tree is too tall for the room? Trim it, and then....someone else gets the trimmings...and then...
Jen Brett just is Christmas for me, so we read all of her works during wintertime... every book has so many surprises to find....and I love hedgehogs!

We enjoy everything from Tomie dePaola. Probably our favorite is The Holy Twins, about saints Benedict and Scholastica. The Legend of the Poinsettia and The Night of Las Posadas are Christmas favorites.  
Debi Gilmore's crabby small fox asks his mother- "if I were a squishy bug, would you still love me and give me a hug?" She answers like all mothers, fox, chicken, sheep or human. 
and there were so many more! It has been fun fulfilling this resolution! 

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