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

A young woman, Suzette, became used to inventing explanations for being late for school. She was ashamed to tell the real reason: frequently, she had to take a detour, because she thought she’d glimpsed a certain type of vehicle and was afraid to see or be seen by the occupant. Just the idea of seeing a certain person who had harmed her, and who drove such a vehicle, made her so anxious she had to change her daily course. 

Touch anyone and you touch grief, the grief of losing someone beloved. There’s grief, and there’s the grief born of a tragic death such as from suicide. Socially, and even as a Church, we often don’t know how to respond.

Once, in a public place, I overheard a couple of men talking as they walked along behind me.

The deep-down goodness of the “average” person gives me awe. No wonder the psalmist, even after experiencing the worst human beings are capable of, exclaims: “you are gods, children of the most high, all of you” (Psalm 82:6). For, as Jesus reminded His hearers when quoting this verse (John 10:34), we’re capable of receiving the very word of God. When we lose everything else, we must hold on to this truth.

Walking down a city street, I overheard a real estate agent talking with a prospective buyer about a house on the street.  “And when that stone church on the other side gets made into a condominium, the home value will go up,” she reasoned to her customer. 

In a parish discussion — a mini-synod, you might say — we had a roundtable talk about whether people would return to Church once pandemic restrictions ended. One young participant saw it this way: “If the Church has something people need, why wouldn’t they return?”

There are moments when the ground beneath us shakes, and we get a shocking glimpse of our failing in love.

“Christianity’s holiest site,” a news story said, is Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, “the place where Christians believe Jesus died and was buried.”

We humans need to be tended. Sheep are tended by a shepherd. Gardens are tended by a gardener. Even databases are tended by experts.

Sam was trying to decide if he should apologize to a high-school friend of his. They’d gone out for lunch, re-connecting after having being out of touch for a while. To Sam’s surprise, his friend Kim remarked smilingly, responding to a story he’d recounted:  “I can see how that happened to you. You always were a fool and a nuisance.”  The conversation continued, but a sick feeling in Sam’s stomach stayed with him throughout lunch and long after they’d parted.