Ramblings from us as we strive to live a holy life in the world, not of the world.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life as a deacon's wife (so far)

It's been almost eight months since my husband's ordination and while I think that it will be several years before I feel comfortable assessing what life is truly like as a spouse of a deacon, I've gained at least a partial perspective of what it's like being the significant other to a clergyman.

What I have been most surprised about is how well Deacon Joe has adapted to his role as a deacon. By that I don't mean that we have mastered scheduling. I don't think that will occur until sometime around the time of our three year old child's graduation...from college. But what I mean is how it seems that his gifts have matched almost perfectly with his assignment.

I always felt that Deacon Joe would be great working in men's ministry. Never during formation did he get the impression that he would end up in prison ministry, but that's where he is and it's been going extremely well. The men there really want to reform their lives and feel that someone cares about therm. His ministry is sparking interest within our own parish and community to serve the needs of those imprisoned. He also seems to be doing pretty well within the parish. He has a voice made for speaking and I can't count the number of times that someone has said that they like his voice or thought that his homilies were insightful.

We had gone through a rough patch for several months before his ordination because his job was eliminated. Wondering if he should proceed with ordination, he discussed it with his formation adviser and knew that the job setback would be minor. In fact, a month after ordination he found a new job for slightly less pay with very little travel and more fulfilling work. Amazing how it seems that everything in his life led up to this point in his life.

So what about me? This has been a major transition time for me. I think that the job insecurity stressed me and the uncertainty of what would happen jobwise and where he would be assigned weighed on me so much that when the dust cleared and everything was in place, I found myself numb. Coupling that with reigning back on my commitments so that my husband could focus on his ministry and picking up most of the domestic responsibilities, I felt like a new mother stuck at home with an infant thinking "what am I supposed to do?" Maybe the analogy isn't the greatest, but I'm not sure how to explain it. For many deacon's wives, they are older and their lives aren't marked by the daily demands of young children. I'm certainly not complaining, I believe that our family is giving witness to living out our faith but it has been a challenge to meet the demands of his diaconate ministry when older children need a car to get to work, I am begged to substitute teach a CCD class and someone needs to watch the little children at the same time.

So do I think more is expected of me now? Yes, but only that I give up my husband more. He's asked to attend more gatherings, meetings, and functions, and well, someone has to be home with the little ones so that falls on me. Once again, I'm not complaining, if anything his ministry actually seems less of a commitment than I expected. But sometimes I worry that my older children get stuck babysitting too much when I'm expected to also attend but so far they've been wonderful especially my 14 year old 'go to' babysitter. My children have remarked that they are often called the 'deacon's kids' and seem to be expected to know all the answers of a religious nature. I don't think that's a bad thing, it's allowed us to dialogue about a lot of subjects. Of course, as I've told my children, being the deacon's kids mean that they are being held to a higher standard. I have to tell myself the same thing all the time when someone cuts me off in traffic or I find myself about to yell at my boys in the grocery store. Chances are that someone there knows that I'm the deacon's wife and boy would I hate to hear someone say, 'did you hear what the deacon's wife said?!"

Which brings me to one last thing that I'm trying to get used to: people knowing me because of my husband but me not knowing them. They may not know my name, but they know who I am. I was a competition baton twirler in high school and back then I loved the limelight. I parlayed that into a career in public relations where I felt very comfortable speaking in front of people. But I admit that I'm not used to the attention that we receive within the parish. I really would rather blend into the background, I guess that's why where the children and I used to sit in the front of the church, now we sit close to the back.

So as I navigate through this unchartered area, I have a more heightened awareness of protestant minister's wives and what they go through. This is my husband's ministry, but it's mine too because I live it everyday. As time goes by, I hope that I can write more about my experiences. Although in the rest of the world, the average age of a deacon is significantly lower than in the United States, I think that in the future, we'll see younger deacons here and as a result younger and very probably larger families who have very different needs when there are young children involved.

So I look forward to sharing some of those experiences, but not now, Deacon Joe needs the computer to write a homily.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Emptying ourselves of the temporal

"My heart is restless until it rests in You"
-St. Augustine

The science community has done studies that shows that humans are "hard-wired' to believe in God'. While within that community, it can become an excuse to try to understand people's need for faith, I think that it speaks volumes about what humans have already known for thousands of years.

The fact is that we may be 'hard-wired' to need God, but certainly that is the way that we were created. God did put a longing in our hearts for Him that we won't fully understand in this lifetime. But in His love, he has also given us glimpses of that love by allowing us the ability to love others because we are made in His image. It is in that love of others that we can have a partial understanding of the love and unity that we desire in this lifetime.

Unfortunately so many of us have made either a conscious or unconscious decision to turn away from God and remain restless because in our yearning for God, we replace Him for something else. St. Thomas Aquinas said that there are four substitutes that humans turn to for fulfillment: wealth, pleasure, power, and honor. While in the short-term, these substitutes can be fulfilling, ultimately they are only substitutes for what we really long for. Eventually we will become unfulfilled with them and seek more of them to try to fulfill our restless hearts. Like a drug, these things promise great things, but only deliver an addiction that will never make us happy.

When we turn to God to fill our hearts, then these substitutes will have no power over us. While we may have those things in our lives, they will be used to give glory to God and we will recognize what they are. 

Our culture has propped these substitutes us and made them more important than anything else and certainly they can provide us with comfort and pleasure, but they are not infinite and will only last a short time. If we always put ourselves first above everything else, we will never be happy. But if we can detach ourselves from these things then we will be able to see God's will for us in life and will experience lasting peace. 

As we approach Lent, may we be able to empty ourselves of those things that hold us back from that loving union with God.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pope Paul VI's prophetic words

Over the years I have spent quite a bit of time in faith formation and faith sharing groups discussing Humanae Vitae. In a later post, I will chronicle my reversion story and how the Church's teaching on sexuality at first kept me at bay from fully embracing my faith, but eventually helped me to not only embrace my faith, but to share it with a passion as the teachings have helped me to understand the beauty of the creation of God and our ability to participate in that creation through our sexuality.

I can remember many discussions within those groups when we lamented how prophetic Pope Paul's words back in 1968 were. Many evils that he predicted would happen have come to fruition in a startling way. One only has to read part of that encyclical to realize that the Holy Spirit was truly speaking through the pope.

As I was reading blogs this morning I happened upon Crossed the Tiber who in rereading the encyclical stumbled upon more prophetic words.

Under Article 17, Consequences of Artificial Methods, Pope Paul writes:

"Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective?Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife."


It's been a couple of years since I read Humanae Vitae. I have to teach an RCIA class next week about Theology of the Body and NFP. Perhaps it would be a good time for me to revisit it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Taxonomy of Sin

From Jennifer Hagy at Indexed, a humorous look at the seven deadly sins paired up with each other to create 21additional sins.