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.

A young Catholic couple were not engaged, but hoping to get there. At a certain point, naturally enough, Anne and Simon found it difficult not to engage in sexual relations. Instead, they quarrelled.

One of many arresting moments in J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterfully gripping The Lord of the Rings involves Merry, one of Frodo’s three hobbit friends who accompany him on his journey to destroy the ring of power. Merry finds himself at the centre of a great battle, with one of the Nazgul (dread servants of the Enemy) bearing down on the King whom Merry has sworn to serve. When the King is struck down, with horror all around him, Merry starts to crawl away. Something inside calls him to return — but “his will would not answer” and he keeps fleeing in the other direction.

During the pandemic lockdown, a bishop spoke to his flock about fears and panic. He emphasized that times were bad, faith was going to be lost, God would leave us and all that remained was to hold tight to our traditions and hope for the best.

What did Jesus mean by “this is My body”? 

It was a trying Lent. The Church has lived something historically unprecedented, as Catholics worldwide were able to go to church nowhere and everywhere. Friends and family shared the joy of seeing Mass around the world and the grief of fasting from receiving communion, even on Good Friday, even on Easter Sunday.

A young woman told me how she almost took her own life at 21. Not because she had no friends or family (she knew she did) but because she felt alone in her pain, isolated in the anguish she had carried so long, and convinced nobody could hear.

“From bitter experience she knew that pictures thrown on the screen of her imagination could seem much more unnerving and terrible than the actual facts.”

On a visit with my mother, who is bedridden now, diminished in sight and hearing as well as mental and physical mobility, we were not getting through to each other.  She couldn’t understand me, and I couldn’t understand her.  Each of us wanted to break through into the other’s world, but were prevented by intractable walls we couldn’t see, like glass, hard and smooth. She cried aloud to God for help.

Amusingly, and confusingly, two signs were posted, one above the other, on the charming wrought-iron gate leading to a country estate: “Welcome” and “No trespassing.” The place seemed to say simultaneously, “Come in, we want you,” and “Stay away, we’re afraid of you.”

How do we become fertile earth?