COR THOUGHTS 229: The Wise Virgins Are Thirsting for You, O Lord My God!

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“My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God,” as we sing in this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm. The Church calls that thirst eros. Tragically, because we so rarely connect the dots between eros and God, “man unknowingly stretches out in search of the Infinite, but in misguided directions: in drugs, in sexuality lived in a disordered manner, in all-encompassing technologies, in success at any cost, and even in deceptive forms of religiosity,” says Pope Benedict XVI. Jesus refers to one of these deceptive forms of religiosity in this Sunday’s gospel, namely, those virgins who, while supposedly devoting their whole lives to God, “have no oil for their lamps.” Father Raniero Cantalamessa describes these unwise virgins as those who offer the counter witness of a “cold love.” He compares them to “poor lovers who write to the beloved letters copied from a handbook.” If the affections and desires of the heart connected with eros are “systematically denied or repressed” in the name of celibacy, states Fr. Cantalamessa, “the result will be double: either one goes on in a tired way, out of a sense of duty, to defend one’s image, or more or less licit compensations are sought, to the point of the very painful cases that are afflicting the Church.” Wise virgins do not repress eros. Rather, they allow their eros to become what it truly is: a pure, burning, wild, aching longing for God. In other words, their lamps are lit on fire and they are witnesses to the whole world of the eternal marriage that awaits us in heaven.