Mary Marrocco

Mary Marrocco

Dr. Mary Marrocco is an associate secretary for the Canadian Council of Churches. She is also a teacher, writer and lay pastoral worker. Her column, Questioning Faith, features topics about the teachings of our church, scriptures, the lives and writings of the saints and spiritual writers and theologians. She can be reached at marrocco7@sympatico.ca.

At a concert put on by friends, a song brought me back to another time and place, as only songs can do: "This land is parching, this land is burning. O healing river, send down your waters."

January 29, 2015

Why we bother with Lent

How do you climb a sheer rock face, 900 metres tall (that’s almost two CN Towers), with one difficult section stacked on another all the way up? Why would you climb it? And with whom?

A few weeks ago, I attended a special prayer service. Led by two bishops (one anglophone, one francophone), it gathered Church dignitaries to celebrate an anniversary. The service was surprisingly moving: a remarkable result at the commemoration of a Church document not so many of us, even within the Church, have ever heard of. The two bishops, and three other Church leaders, reflected on passages from Ephesians and John.

“Let’s go to Bethlehem,” we students agreed with one another. We were enrolled in a summer course in Jerusalem, through a program called Bat Kol which the Sisters of Sion generously invited me to attend. The final free Saturday was approaching. We wanted to make the trip before returning home.

My sister and I used to get season’s tickets to the ballet. They brought colour, beauty and music to long winters, and gave us an opportunity to visit. They also took us to performances we wouldn’t normally select, which is how we ended up at a performance of Swan Lake. We had tickets, so we went.

Why is everybody always rushing? 

What does the title “Divorce Busting” suggest to you? A law firm, perhaps? Actually, it’s a counselling service for couples on the brink of divorce. I attended a workshop by its founder, an enlightening tour through the labyrinth of betrayal. 

What does the title “Divorce Busting” suggest to you? A law firm, perhaps? Actually, it’s a counselling service for couples on the brink of divorce. I attended a workshop by its founder, an enlightening tour through the labyrinth of betrayal. 

Jesse is in a tough spot. Having lost his business after personal troubles, he lives on a small pension. His grown-up children visit once in a while, bringing the grandkids, but he has few social contacts and seems unneeded in the world. How has he coped? “Faith in God” is his ready response to this question. Yet he’s angry with God, too, with himself, and with the systems that didn’t rescue him. 

A concert I attended last month included George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Not a favourite of mine, but that evening I felt the song’s appeal. In music and words, it carries a sense of relaxed fullness, an invitation into a lush, protected place where the “livin’ is easy,” the harshness of the world far-off at the edges: “fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high... there ain’t nothin’ can harm you, with mama and daddy standin’ by.”