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Father Cantalamessa on Marriage in Heaven

Pontifical Household Preacher on Sunday's Gospel

ROME, NOV. 11, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

There came a poor widow
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (b)
1 Kings 7:10-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44

One day, Jesus was standing before the temple treasury, watching people deposit their offerings. He saw a poor widow come and put in all she had, two copper coins, which make a penny. He turned to his disciples and said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than the others. All have given from their excess, but she, in her poverty, put in all she had, all she had to live on."

We might call this Sunday the "Sunday of the widows." The story of a widow was also told in the first reading, the widow of Zarephath who gave up all she had left to eat (a handful of flour and a drop of oil) to prepare a meal for the prophet Elijah.

This is a good occasion in which to turn our attention toward both the widows and the widowers of today. If the Bible speaks so often of widows and never of widowers it is because in ancient society the woman who was left alone was at a greater disadvantage than the man who was left alone. Today there is no longer this difference. Actually, in general it now seems that women who are alone manage much better than men.

On this occasion I would like to treat a theme that is of definite interest not only to widows and widowers but also to all those who are married, especially during this month in which we remember the dead. Does the death of a husband or wife, which brings about the legal end of a marriage, also bring with it the total end of communion between the two persons? Does something of that bond which so strongly united two persons on earth remain in heaven, or will all be forgotten once we have crossed the threshold into eternal life?

One day, some Sadducees presented Jesus with the unlikely case of a woman who was successively the wife of seven brothers, asking him whose wife she would be after the resurrection. Jesus answered: "When they rise from the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage but will be like angels in heaven" (Mark 12:25).

Interpreting this saying of Jesus wrongly, some have claimed that marriage will have no follow-up in heaven. But with his reply Jesus is rejecting the caricature the Sadducees presented of heaven, as if it were going to be a simple continuation of the earthly relationship of the spouses. Jesus does not exclude the possibility that they might rediscover in God the bond that united them on earth.

According to this vision, marriage does not come to a complete end at death but is transfigured, spiritualized, freed from the limits that mark life on earth, as also the ties between parents and children or between friends will not be forgotten. In a preface for the dead the liturgy proclaims: "Life is transformed, not taken away." Even marriage, which is part of life, will be transfigured, not nullified.

But what about those who have had a negative experience of earthly marriage, an experience of misunderstanding and suffering? Should not this idea that the marital bond will not break at death be for them, rather than a consolation, a reason for fear? No, for in the passage from time to eternity the good remains and evil falls away. The love that united them, perhaps for only a brief time, remains; defects, misunderstandings, suffering that they inflicted on each other, will fall away.

Indeed, this very suffering, accepted with faith, will be transformed into glory. Many spouses will experience true love for each other only when they will be reunited "in God," and with this love there will be the joy and fullness of the union that they did not know on earth. In God all will be understood, all will be excused, all will be forgiven.

Some will ask of course about those who have been legitimately married to different people, widowers and widows who have remarried. (This was the case presented to Jesus of the seven brothers who successively had the same woman as their wife.) Even for them we must repeat the same thing: That which was truly love and self-surrender between each of the husbands or wives, being objectively a good coming from God, will not be dissolved. In heaven there will not be rivalry in love or jealousy. These things do not belong to true love but to the intrinsic limits of the creature.


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Heaven, Cantalamessa, Liturgy, Gospel

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1 - 4 of 4 Comments

  1. Betty McKenzie
    4 years ago

    Father,When my husband died in 2006,Oct. from thirteen years after diagnosis of Altziemers,our children and I was at his bedside.As he was dying,gasping,and I was looking into his eyes and it seemed he was imploring me to help him stay.The children felt he always knew me. He was a devout Catholic as is our family. Ever since his dying I have agonized over what is after death. There are so many different views even from Catholic sources. Your explanation is what I have been looking for and gives me hope that we will see each other again. That was the first feeling I had,that I was glad for his suffering to be over but is our life together over? There has to be more. Several months ago I had a vivid dream of him and we were young again and he was telling me after I was ready to meet him,to go down the stairs in the house and out the door ,turn left and continue walking and he would be waiting for me.There have been other little signs but I know to avoid superstition. It was four months after his death that the dream occured. Is that possible he was out of purgatory at time? Thank you again for giving me hope,that we will be together in a more beautiful place. I still miss his loving presence. Sincerely,Betty McKenzie I am 79 this mo.

  2. Sharon
    5 years ago

    Hi Pax,

    Is there not a time between death and the resurrection? Perhaps this is a time / place where singles can find one another.

  3. jk
    5 years ago

    Hi there.
    I was very interested and relieved by this article. but one thing I was upset that it wasn't mentioned- singles? if someone dies single or stays single their whole life, will it be possible for them to meet with and marry their ideal spouse in heaven? my whole life I have been single and have never been any good at communicating with the opposite sex. I have little hope for my love life on this earth, but in heaven I envisage myself with my ideal partner in love forever. but when I discovered Mark 12:25 & Luke 20:34-35, I was greatly distressed and worried; I had a crisis of faith. I need advice on this topic from other Catholics, I find it very hard to believe God would want people to stay single in heaven for eternity- heaven is the ideal world! but the bible seems to state otherwise. please could someone help me?

    Thank you!
    God Bless!
    Pax Christi.

  4. Andrew Son
    6 years ago

    I am currently a single male who has want to enter into Holy Matrimony with my girlfriend. It is not a classic story of Catholic marriage, but it is one that must be told. Truth is there is a chance we will not meet in this lifetime. Distance and circumstances beyond our control may affect our mutual decision to meet and marry with a Roman Catholic priest presiding over the marriage ceremony.

    I live in the good ol'USA. I am quite successful at what I do. Particularly as far as living a decent life as a Catholic. She is a wonderful woman. Someone who I love dearly. With respect to Catholic prayers, I recite them daily for us. When we definitely meet it could be this year or in Heaven. Truth is that I need to believe that our marriage as long as approved of by the Lord can be every bit as fruitful and bountiful as a marriage here on earth. We are definitely in love. I believe man and woman are 99.99% perfect as he or she may be. But, together as a married couple, it is 100% perfected by God.

    A man may want to play sports or music. A woman may encourage moments together or playing with the children. Independently, a man would be pleased with playing basketball for example or listening to Bach. With his better half, a man would be more pleased to being with his wife and family. It is just that simple. I liken it to God's word put to the life we live. God spoke to mankind in The Holy Bible and always encourages man to pray to Him. Man can enjoin with woman to live a good life as a Catholic with the Lord as his savior and redeemer and deliverer.

    I know that it sounds basic, but I must be able to live a full earthly life with my wife-to-be. It may not happen here on earth. But, it will .. in Heaven! With God, anything is possible. I have hope, love and faith that we will both make it. Please keep us in your prayers!

    I hope to meet all people who make it to Heaven. I pray for you as well. Please show a little more favor to those who so want to have Heaven like it is here on earth, but perfect. It will be for with God, everything always is perfect. It is the only chance that Olya and I really have as Christians.

    God bless you for reading my posting +

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