The privilege of laity

I went to an ordination recently and I want to get some thoughts down before my loved and beloved wake up from their nap.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I have some issues with the church hierarchy, many of the teachings of the church, and the ways that the church authorities seem to be modern day Pharisees and Saducees. For the most part this ordination confirmed all of that for me. That has been very very hard.

But the question for me (and us really) is how to support the person who is being ordained, who essentially isn’t buying into much of the same church that I am not buying into- yet is still being ordained.

In exploring this question I discovered a freedom. There is no hope of my ordination (I am don’t think I want it anyway) and there is no real hope of the aforementioned napping beloved's either. But for us, knowing that we wanted to go into ministry when we were young, perusing a Masters Degree in ministry, and then working in lay ministry has been farily successful thus far. Frankly, we don't need ordination to work in ministry. And despite our deep questioning and critique of the church we have been able to mostly navigate our ministry from within the church but still skirting the hierarchy of the church.

This person we love, who was ordained, I don’t think was so privileged to take 3 years off and become a full time student to work on an MDIV and do a mid-life lifestyle change. The easiet rout for this man to become a minister was the deaconate ordination track. This track is ideal because because diocesan training programs are set up to support middle aged men who also work full time to work on their ministerial education. They are typically 1 weekend a month for several years. This track allows for a ministerial title (deacon) and support (a church) in the middle of life without having to either start over completely or to start minsitry as the low (and uneducated) person on the totem pole. Ultimately, I think that doing ministry in the way that S and I are doing it is not a possibility for many because the catholic imagination is not formed around lay people doing ministry in the way.

All in all, this experience did not provide me deep comfort in the way the church is headed, or warm fuzzies about the way they included the marginalized (mostly white men, 0 disabled people, 11 women were mentioned by name in the litany of saints and Eucharistic prayer total- 35 men – and 2 women were included as readers) or the poor (that’s right the poor were barely mentioned as part of the primary service of the deacon (“charity” was the word).

BUT, I did discover that I am lucky that I don’t have to buy into some of the hierarchy BS that I don’t believe in. I wondered what priests of the 50 or so on the altar who were critical of what was happening and felt trapped to do anything to stop it.


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