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.

Alleluia! He is risen! The only real sin, says St. Isaac of Nineveh, is not paying attention to the Resurrection.

On Good Fridays, I can find myself shivering in the night with Simon Peter, warming my hands at the charcoal fire.

One chilly morning, I boarded a city bus. All four linked cars were empty aside from me and the driver, who was making occasional cheery remarks over the loud-speaker. The usually-locked door between driver and passenger was propped open. 

Back in high school, we students noticed when Mr. Q dropped his customary bow-tie, had his hair cut and started smiling more. We knew he was in love. Sure enough, he started appearing at school events with his fiancée in tow.

This New Year, perhaps more than most, stirs up awareness of time and its strange ways. Through the unsettling days of 2020 and 2021, some have found the time long and heavy, waiting for the lonely burdensome time to pass so they can regain their lives. For others, time has come to an end as effects of the coronavirus or other painful happenings claimed their lives. Still others have found time opening up for them, enabling them to do or explore new things. Some have spent more time in prayer.

I remember once hearing a speaker marvelling at the “gentleness of God.” My reaction was incredulity. Gentleness? Many in that very room were experiencing great anguish, while around us swirled life’s turbulence and trouble. Of all things one could assert about God, this one seemed the most indefensible. What good could gentleness do, anyway, in a harsh and chaotic world? What is needed is strength and power to assist people whose lives and dilemmas are anything but gentle.

Is love stronger than death? What an arduous, soul-changing task it is to test for ourselves the answer to this question.

Having seen many performances of Shakespeare’s play, I have heard many actors’ interpretations of Hamlet’s response to the seemingly-innocent question: “What do you read, my lord?” With dry irony, or with bitterness, weariness, humour or biting sarcasm, Hamlet replies: “Words, words, words.” Like his author, Hamlet had reason to be fed up with words, and reason to be entranced with them.  So have we all.

It can be difficult, these days, not to become crabby, bitter and divisive. Every day, we receive so much that frightens or angers us, and seems to threaten our very being. 

What makes it so difficult to overcome conflicts? Between a couple or family, groups or nations, often we just can’t sort things out and move on.