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A Vocation

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Written by Basil on 05/7/2003 10:02 PM. Filed under:

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Recently, Katie at blogged about the undercurrent of expectation in Orthodox churches that priest’s daughters will become matushki, priest’s wives. While I will leave alone for the moment the question of the validity of such an expectation, or the correlating expectation of priest’s sons to become priests, something about her words have been a burr under my saddle since then. So, before I start bucking and throw my rider off, I thought I would muse a little about the vocation of the priesthood. Of course, the musings of an Orthodox layman about the priesthood should be taken as seriously as the musings of a patient about being a doctor.

These musings are not a response to Katie, more of an improvisation on a similar theme.

The priesthood is a vocation. No man pursues the priesthood like some ordinary career. In fact, many pursue the priesthood as one pursues the plague. This even leads some priests to believe that seeking after the priesthood is itself a sign that the man seeking it is probaby not ready yet. Since I’m still a patient, and not even in med school yet, I’m not really qualified to make a diagnosis about this, but I’m not sure I buy that belief yet. However, a man who seeks the priesthood for glory or honor or respect really should become a doctor instead. As a doctor, he’ll actually find what he seeks, and he is only responsible for bodies and not for souls.

The potential priest who is seeking a wife should be seeking a partner in ministry. A man and a woman who are married and seeking the priesthood should approach the ministry as a team, if possible. Even the most softspoken matushka brings gifts to her husband’s ministry that are indispensible. In my discussions with priests and matushki, these decisions are always made together. Moreover, a bishop will often consult with the matushka to be before making a decision about ordaining her husband to the priesthood.

Every priest and his wife are going to approach their ministry differently. It will mean sacrifices on both sides. However, it also means that both need to take care to protect themselves against abuse and misuse by those in need. They need to take care that they and their children and the rectory are not trampled upon by the wounded people they care for. Archpriest John and Lyn Breck are excellent teachers and models of behavior for priests and their wives.

I hope my musings are holy and acceptable and not overweening or pompous. Though I am only a layman, I can say that I am at least interested in the priesthood. When I think of the possibility of being a married priest, I usually feel like Prophet Jonah — running from my true vocation. That’s a sense that I’ve been coming to terms with for nearly ten years now. (Yes, since before I was Orthodox, for those keeping score at home.) Anyway, that’s probably a blog for another day.

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One Response to “A Vocation”

  1. katie Says:

    “The potential priest who is seeking a wife should be seeking a partner in ministry.”

    In other words, this man isn’t seeking a wife. Wife != business partner. To think so is wrong.