Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Living in the Church Hierarchy

I'm back!  I know it's been a few weeks since I have written, but hopefully I can get back on track! I hope you will find today's post worth your time.

I'm not sure where to begin to write about today's reading from the Gospel of Matthew, because reflecting on it has caused a multitude of thoughts to go swimming around in my head.  Please be patient, as I try to get this out.

In the 20th chapter of Matthew, we read a quite familiar account of a landowner who decided to hire laborers to work in his vineyard.  To make a long story short, at the end of the day, the workers who had been hired last and worked a shorter time were paid the same as those who had worked all day.  The landowner, i.e., God, pointed out that the early arrivals were originally happy with their wages, until they compared them to the others' wages.

I've read this scripture a thousand times, but as many of you know, depending on where you are when you read scripture, different things can arise.

To the grumbling workers, the landowner said, "What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?  Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?" 

My brain, for the first time, translated this account in a new light.  I have been thinking a lot about priests and laywomen, the hierarchy and the insidious scourge of clericalism (a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy), which is unhelpful as well as unhealthy.

Before you jump to conclusions, read carefully.  You see, I love being part of a hierarchical church.  I think it is essential; it is also not something someone, somewhere, just dreamed up. It is divine. And I love our priests. There would be no Church without them. I don't have any problem with a male-only priesthood, so on and so forth.

But, in today's parable about the workers, I heard God asking our Church leadership, "What's the problem if I give laywomen the ability to lead, shepherd (using the term loosely), teach, and preach, within the kingdom?"  I heard him wondering why so often a laywoman's hands are bound from using the gifts God has given them so freely?

What if, as in the parable, God asks us, "What if I wish to give others, in addition to priests, gifts that can help build up the kingdom, from within the Church?"

The answer might seem pretty obvious, and there are plenty of priests who would nod their head and say, "Yes, of course God gives gifts freely to others besides us and it is beneficial."   In fact, our own current Pope, Francis, has a heart open to this.  Further, those same aforementioned priests are the first ones to include not only laymen, but also laywomen in the work of the Church--and I'm not talking about token jobs, but places where they can fully use their gifts.

However, collaboration between laywomen and priests isn't working universally.  In some places, it works great, like a well-oiled machine with everyone on the same page.  In other places, you can see the tension that exists as priests cling to their position as if it is over laypeople (which was never God's plan), rather than working with them. Nobody benefits when this happens.  Certainly not the people of God at large.

In those situations, it is not only sad, but harmful, as the mission of the Church becomes restricted by what can feel like a choke-hold around the God-given talents of those outside ordained ministry.

You might be tempted to blame the structure of the Church.  You might want to blame close-minded priests.  But you also need to look closely at laypeople themselves, because we have not educated ourselves as to the fullness of our vocation.

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying.  This has nothing to do with position or power.  Not at all, although there are surely some in the Church for whom it is.  It's not about women's rights or fairness.

But we must be clear that being part of a hierarchical Church does not make some members, such as laymen and women, less than.

We are so many decades from Vatican II (a worldwide gathering of the church in the 1960s) and yet, there is so much work to be done.  How many laypeople understand their call to discipleship, evangelization and leadership in the Church?

If you would just take a few minutes today to read The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity you would see that our place is within the hierarchy of the Church, not on the bottom of the pyramid.

If your gifts are not being used as God has called you to use them, maybe it is time for you to pray for some guidance, after all, responsibility for the mission of the church belongs to the entire Body of Christ.

Janet Cassidy


Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Powerful Story

If you don't follow pro-life/pro-choice stuff, you may have never heard of Rebecca Kiessling, but you should.  I hope you will listen to someone who is living a life that began in rape and was nearly taken by abortion.  She has a very powerful story that everyone should know, regardless of your position.

She says, "One of the greatest things I’ve learned is that the rapist is NOT my creator, as some people would have me believe.  My value and identity are not established as a 'product of rape,' but as a child of God."

Being conceived by a serial rapist who attacked her 18 year old birth mother at knife point could have been the end of her story.  Having her mother set up to have her aborted--twice--could have been the end.  But today, you hear her speak honestly about her life:

"Please understand that whenever you identify yourself as being “pro-choice,” or whenever you make that exception for rape, what that really translates into is you being able to stand before me, look me in the eye, and say to me, “I think your mother should have been able to abort you.”  That’s a pretty powerful statement.  I would never say anything like that to someone.  I would say never to someone, “If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.” 

Read her story in her own words at

Go deeper on this topic at: 

Rebecca also refers to: 

And one more.  If you are a Chris Stefanick fan, he interviews a woman who had an abortion and highlights the fear that goes into making the decision.  His interview can be found HERE . This is an excellent interview.

God bless,

Janet Cassidy

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Why oh Why?

So here are two interesting questions that God asks each of us in the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 2 (Verses 5 & 11):

He wants to know what fault we have found in him that would cause us to walk away from him and go after things that leave us empty.

And, he wants to know why we have exchanged our greatness in having been made in his image to go after useless things.

Wow.  How will you answer these questions?

God tells us through Jeremiah that the "empty idols" we chase after every day will simply leave us empty.  In other words, if we expect to find peace in our lives, the things of this world are not going to supply it.  Ultimately, our separation from God will leave us anxious, worldly, angry, immoral and isolated in a wasteland of drought and darkness!

Since none of that sounds good, we might want to rethink where we are spiritually.  Do we really believe that God exists?  Do we turn to him everyday and count on him walking with us through our decisions, commitments and relationships?

Do we think God is relevant to our daily lives?

Do we join with other believers to help support them and receive the help from them we need to remain faithful? 
Do we reject those things that are tempting but not good for us?
Do we see those around us who are hungry or in need and move to help?
Do we fully support our churches and the ministries they do, sacrificing our own wants to do so?
Do we pray for those who have died, those who are dying, or those in need of comfort and healing?

Once we start letting go of those empty idols we seek, and replace them with acts of true discipleship, an added benefit is that our own loneliness or sense of hopelessness will begin to lift as we begin to help others.

God asked through Jeremiah, "Why?"  "Why have you withdrawn from me?"

Indeed, why would we seek things that cannot satisfy and why would we trade our "glory" to go after "useless things?"  

Why would we remain idle, stagnant in our life?

Only you can answer that for yourself.  I would encourage you to read this chapter in Jeremiah (in the Old Testament) and reflect on your life and where you are searching for fulfillment.  Let God speak to you in the quiet of your heart and raise you up to the glory that you have through him.

Janet Cassidy