by Athanasia Papadimitriou
The Priest’s Wife’s Consent to, and Participation in, the Priest’s Ordination
The priest’s wife plays an important role in her husband’s ordination. First of all, she must consent in writing that she is willing for her husband to be ordained. As “one flesh” with her husband through the Sacrament of Marriage, she participates in spirit in his ordination.
Personally, I vividly recall my husband’s ordination. On that special day, my husband’s dream was to come true. I remember vividly the church full of people. Our parents, brothers, sisters, and friends were all there. I remember how tears were running from my eyes as I watched my husband go into the altar. As I heard the sacramental prayers of ordination, I felt that I was up there in spirit. All the faithful and our families were praying with tears in their eyes for my husband to be worthy of God’ s Grace.
Then and there, I realized that I was in it, too. When Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America laid his hands on my husband, the Holy Spirit poured His Grace to cover him. I felt that a sparkle or glimpse of the Holy Spirit touched me as well.
In a moment, the church was filled with the shout,
Axios! Axios! Axios! (worthy).
My cry of Axios was there too, showing my approval and commitment to God and to my husband: I was there to be part of his ministry. In his new gold vestments, my husband looked like an angel. I will never forget that moment, and will treasure it until the last day of my life.
After his ordination, the priest can offer the Divine Liturgy. I remember the joy and blessing I felt to receive Holy Communion from my husband’s hands when he offered his first Divine Liturgy. God honored me with his invitation to be a priest’s wife. What a blessing! Only women who go through this experience can understand the special feeling and fulfillment.
As described above, the priest and his wife are doubly blessed by the two Sacraments of Marriage and Ordination. From then on, they are bound together. It is really true that the priest’s wife is
“part of the priest’s cassock (raso)”
to paraphrase the Greek saying. From then on, the difficult spiritual journey begins. The priest and his wife have to be prepared to support each other and walk hand in hand down the narrow road, having the Holy Spirit as their guide.
St. Cyril, a second century saint, depicted the Eucharistic table in an icon. A man’s hand reaches for the bread, and a woman is standing and praying. They represent Christ and the Church. This icon can symbolize a married priest and his wife after his ordination. With deep love for God and each other, the two share the important responsibility of serving God and His people.
From A.:Papademetriou’s “Presbytera” The Life, Mission, and Service of the Priest’s Wife.” Ed. Somerset Hall Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 2004.