“And you, yourself, a sword shall pierce”–the role of the Presbytera, and a case for married priests

The Church needs more married priests, but not for the reason people think.
One of the reasons the Western Church moved to mandatory celibacy was that it simplified things.
It has always been the case that ordination is an impediment to marriage. Once a man is ordained a deacon, he becomes a spiritual father to his community (in the East, deacons are called “Father,” as well).  Except for very rare extenuating circumstances, if a married, ordained man is widowed, he is not permitted to remarry.  Even while his wife lives, a married priest and his wife are expected *at least* to abstain from marital relations before celebrating the Liturgy (incidentally, fasting from sexual relations was part of the traditional fasting rules for laity, as well), often, and always in the Roman sui iuris church, married priests are required, or choose, to practice perpetual marital continence.
In the east, the wife of a deacon is called a “deaconess,” and the wife of a priest is called the “priestess” (or sometimes “Sister” or “Mother”).  Usually in Engish, the original language of the autocephalic church is used (such as “diakona” or “presbytera” in Greek).  The wife participates in her husband’s ministry (1 Cor 9:5).
As his wife, she is his confidante and supporter.  As the traditional observance of Sunday includes a community gathering after Divine Liturgy, the wife of the priest is to be the hostess of that gathering, mirroring her husband’s role in the liturgy.

(unfinished piece by John)

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