Excerpts from an interview
with Fr. Constantin
published in Familia Ortodoxa magazine
The Spouses’ Different and Specific Vocations
I have come to the conclusion that there is a
deep and specific man’s vocation and contribution to the family. It
manifests itself by leadership, assuming responsibility.
I’d say man has the gift of leadership, which should
not mean worldly tyranny, but a better self-possession he has compared to
woman. (Unfortunately, this gift is not exercised and improved – this is
another problem.) That is why the woman is drawn to him: she is looking for
support in him, hoping he can master any situation. But, most of the times, the
man doesn’t fulfill the woman’s expectations exactly because he has not worked
on his gift of self-mastery and self-possession.
Yet, I believe this is man’s natural vocation.
And a woman’s specific vocation is to submit to the man. She is submissive by
nature. It is a great gift and it implies a lot of strength. It’s not easy to
submit, to obey the man. But man is tempted to give up his calling, because
leadership is hard.
Responsibility is the most difficult thing. You
need to take decisions. Surely, you won’t do that arbitrarily or abusively, you
won’t decide in a selfish way, you need to take the other into account.
The highest and most natural form of support for
your decision is your love for the other. Therefore, your decision should
reflect your readiness to sacrifice for the other. It doesn’t mean the decision
is not yours. And the woman could thus get exactly what she has wished for, but
in a more generous manner, as a gift from man, not as his simply meeting
This is the way to accomplish love: man needs to
sacrifice himself when he takes the decision. He will not decide selfishly, in
his own interest, but lovingly, as a gift to the woman. Thus, woman will
receive much more than she could get by requests, nagging and fights. But, for
man to be so, to be a mature person who assumes his decision and takes
responsibility, he should be very good, spiritually developed and very mature,
which is rare nowadays.
Self-mastery as measure for maturity
vulnerable way a man manifests his lack of self-mastery is through his body,
obviously, in his relationship with his wife. Then the wife, who expects him to
be a self-mastered man, realizes he is actually mastered by his own bodily
This is how
man loses the test in the woman’s eyes. She may realize this or not. She may
express it or not. No matter what, deep inside, he will lose ground in front of
her. He is not the man she expected him to be, because he has lost test after
test on the vulnerable ground of bodily self-mastery.
speaking from books. I’m telling you from my experience as a confessor and
spiritual mentor. The man who doesn’t pass the self-mastery test – I’m
referring to his bodily relationship with the woman, to succumbing to gluttony,
sleepiness and others – proves to his woman that he is unaccomplished and
becomes the cause of his woman’s degradation.
The child is a great gift
First of all, the family should welcome the
baby. They should welcome it when God gives it. It’s very important! They
should not plan too much, at least not the first child. Certainly, it would be
best not to plan any of their children, but it’s essential not to plan the
first one: whenever God gives it! Because there is great purpose here, in the
first-born, which, as it is written, belongs to God (Exodus, 34:19). Everybody can see that for themselves. I did:
families who restrict to one child will “lose” that child one way or another.
God forbid of tragic situations, I have seen those as well!
The child is a great gift, but it also helps the
couple, because the tension between the two gets sublimated in the third, who
is the expression of their union. Because the child expresses the parents’
union. It is a great gift. Unfortunately, we give birth to just a few children
today. The context has also become too complicated. Now mothers have to go to
work… Everybody is proud to have just one child. Others pride themselves with
two children, they think they are wise.
I believe they are not. At least three children means wisdom, because there is a balance between children. Besides, we do have a duty to carry on the humankind. We were called into being as a gift and and we are called to give birth in turn. There are things more profound than we can imagine, and everything falls into place if man is aware of his place, his position in the world and his calling – towards God, towards people and the whole world.