Families are Fragile

“The passion of self-love stands out as the family’s worst enemy. Egoism is a dangerous enemy. When a married couple does not want to yield to each other in anything, each morbidly guarding his or her own pride; if each continually counts the times that he or she did something for the family, then that family will little-by-little fall apart. If couples easily give place to anger, argue over trifles, and cannot peacefully live with each other’s close relatives, then they themselves feel wretched, and their children absorb their bad example. How hard it is to bring up children by our own example!  True ascetic labor is required of parents in order not to consign their children to the education of television, internet groups, or the streets. That is on the one hand; on the other hand, children must not be tortured with excess care. After all, super-care leads to infantilism, introversion, and sometimes even rebellion against parents. The family is a school of love.”

this is from an article “Married Life and Ascetisim”by Fr. Gleb Kaleda on the Good Guys Wear Black site. 


It isn’t specifically addressed to clergy families; but  clergy families, in addition to the same asceticism of self-sacrifice undertaken by everyone who chooses Christian marriage,  voluntarily undertake a particular asceticism that is guaranteed to be their companion throughout their ministry.

I don’t mean the asceticism of keeping the fasting rules, or going to church regularly. I mean the asceticism of standing in the spotlight, or goldfish bowl if you prefer, where you are a visible target who cannot escape. There will always be some who are willing to take the potshots, and others who take you for granted or stand idly by, holding the coats of the shooters, like Saul at the stoning of St. Stephen.

Those taking the shots or participating by their failure to help, sometimes include people people in the parish, sometimes people you counted on as friends; sometimes hierarchs and fellow clergy, even occasionally those outside the church.

But sometimes, these people are not ultimately the cause of breaking the fragile families of the thus-exposed clergy. Always, invisible, guiding the hands that pick up the stones, are the true enemies, the unseen forces of spiritiual warfare. It is good to know that we also have invisible allies in the saints and angels– we have to work hard to remember that sometimes. 

I have heard far too many cases of clergy divorce– priests or deacons, and even in the lesser orders. The words from the article by Fr. Gleb above do get to the heart of it– egoism is the root of the cracks that appear in the marriages of clergy as of others, cracks that can be exploited to blow apart the union, and leaving the children with a sad remnant of family and faith. And egoism is a particular temptation to anyone that stands in a leadership position– least of all the priests and deacons. 



One response to “Families are Fragile

  1. Great article. However, I just checked Fr. Gleb Kaleda’s original Russian article. This phrase” After all, super-care leads to infantilism, introversion, and sometimes even rebellion against parents.” was slightly mistranslated. Instead of “introversion,” it should be “stand-offishness” or “anti-social-ness”. Maybe introversion sounded better, but it’s farther from the original:)


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