Skip to content

'Where Are We Going?' Asks Father Cantalamessa

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Gospel

ROME, NOV. 5, 2005 (Zenit) - In his commentary on this Sunday's liturgical readings, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the Pontifical Household, discusses the parable of the 10 virgins.

* * *

When commenting on the parable of the 10 virgins, we do not want to emphasize so much what differentiates the young maidens (five are wise, and five are foolish), as what unites them: All are going out to meet the bridegroom.

This allows us to reflect on a fundamental aspect of Christian life -- its eschatological orientation, that is, the expectation of the Lord's return and our encounter with him. It helps us to respond to the eternal and disturbing question: Who are we and where are we going?

Scripture says that in this life we are "foreign pilgrims," we are "parishioners," as "paroikos" is the word of the New Testament that is translated as pilgrim and exile (cf. 1 Peter 2:11), and "paroikia" (parish) is the translation of pilgrimage or exile (cf. 1 Peter 1:17).

The meaning is clear. In Greek, "para" is an adverb and it means next. "Oikia" is a subject and it means house. Therefore, it means to live next to, or near, not inside, but beside. For this reason, the term indicates someone who lives in a place for a time, the passer-by, or the exile; "paroikia" indicates, therefore, a provisional house.

The life of Christians is a life of pilgrimage and exile. Christians are "in" the world, but not "of" the world (cf. John 17:11,16). Their true homeland is in heaven, and they await Jesus Christ the savior to come (cf. Philippians 3:20). They do not have a stable dwelling, but are on the way to their future one (cf. Hebrews 13:14). The whole Church is no more than a great "parish."

The second-century letter to Diogenes defines Christians as men who "inhabit their own homelands, but as foreigners; they participate in everything as citizens, but endure everything as foreigners; every foreign land is their homeland, and every homeland is foreign to them." It is, however, a special way of being "foreign."

Some thinkers of the age also defined man as a "foreigner in the world by nature." But the difference is enormous: The latter considered the world as the work of evil, and because of this, they did not recommend commitment to it as expressed in marriage, in work, in the state. There is nothing of all this in the Christian. Christians, the letter says, "marry as everyone and beget children," "they take part in everything."

Their way of being "foreign" is eschatological, not ontological. Namely, the Christian feels himself a foreigner by vocation, not by nature, in as much as he is destined to another world, and not in so far as he proceeds from another world. The Christian sentiment of acknowledging oneself foreign is founded on the resurrection of Christ: "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above" (Colossians 3:1). That is why he does not reject creation in its fundamental goodness.

In recent times, the rediscovery of the role and commitment of Christians in the world has contributed to attenuate the eschatological meaning, to the point that there is almost no talk of the last things: death, judgment, hell and paradise. But when the expectation of the Lord's return is genuinely biblical, it does not distract from the commitment to brothers; rather, it purifies it.

It teaches to "judge with wisdom the goods of the earth, orienting ourselves always toward the goods of heaven." St. Paul, after reminding Christians that "the time is short," concluded saying: "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).

To live awaiting the Lord's return does not even mean to want to die soon. "To seek the things that are above" means, rather, to orient one's life in view of the encounter with the Lord, to make this event the pole of attraction, the beacon of life. The "when" is secondary, and must be left to the will of God.

[Italian original published in Famiglia]


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Gospel, Cantalamessa, Virgins, Parable, Liturgical

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.