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.

In Belgium recently, someone unexpectedly crossed my path.

A theological conference in Leuven included a service at nearby St. Damien Church. Entering, I met a man, a fellow conference-goer I hadn’t met before, who said, “Come down to the crypt where St. Damien is.” I followed him down, paused with my hand on the doorknob, sensing that that door led to a life-changing encounter.

Some questions seem to be our companions for life. I used to think they would get answered and go away. Now I'm less surprised to hear people of 25, 35, 45, 75, asking what I'd thought was the proper concern of the 15-year-old: "What am I supposed to do with my life?"

After intensive soul-searching and searing heartache, a person I know has divorced. She aches for her children and for herself as a Catholic facing lonely solitude. A faithful person, she thought she was following the voice of love, both in getting married and in the way she tried to live her marriage. How could love have led her to divorce?

The church was in darkness when I came in, the Easter vigil just beginning. The paschal candle was lit. Its fire was passed around the church, until many tiny candles together became a mass of light. 
February 25, 2007

What is truth?

Myra was suffering profoundly. Some people blame themselves when life gets tough, taking everything inside. Some, like Myra, take everything outside, blaming everybody but themselves.

When Dave waved hello I thought, as usual, what a strong, friendly face he has. Today, those good looks were obscured by haggard gray gauntness, somewhat incongruous under the curly hair and jaunty boyish cap. He asked me how I was, flicked his cigarette, and nodded: "I'm OK. I'm back on drugs, but it's all good."

On a trip to France I had a weekend in Paris, which meant serious decisions about what to visit and what to leave out. After Notre Dame, I went to nearby Sainte Chapelle, advertised as having the best stained glass in the country. Stained glass was not a particular interest of mine, but the day was sunny and the destination close.
“I would die without the Trinity,” my friend Fr. Peter said once. How many of us would echo Fr. Peter? Does the Trinity make much difference to our lives or our faith?  Yet it’s one of our key doctrines, distinguishing Christianity from all world religions.   
How do you prepare for Christmas? One year, when I was working in parish ministry, we decided to hold an Advent retreat. Many parishioners were eager for such a time of reflection. We arranged it well in advance, made posters, booked rooms and soon had abundant pre-registered participants.

A rather superficial movie, a murder mystery, struck a deeper note with me. The movie was about a group of people on an island holiday. Every so often, one of them would disappear, never to be seen again. They didn’t know who would be taken next, or when, how, why or where the person went; but they knew they were all subject to the mysterious phenomenon. Not so different from real life, except that in the movie, the mystery got solved.