The Cardinal Virtues of Purgatory

Starting now on our 5th reading of Purgatory on this website – we’re seeing the opening of the second book with even more clarity than last time. The bigger and more hidden background of the Paradiso is clearly felt, but the Journey starts more carefully with some smaller and practical steps. Here are the four Cardinal Virtues of Fortitude, Prudence, Temperance and Justice being introduced:

The rays of light from those four sacred stars
struck with such radiance upon his face,
it was as if the sun were shining there.

when Cato, the Guardian of the Mountain appears to the Pilgrim and Virgil. Continue reading “The Cardinal Virtues of Purgatory”

Before the Empyrean – the 10th Heaven

We’ve just finished the Primo Mobile and the 9th Sphere again, and we’re trying to digest what is really happening there; in a sense how the Inferno and Purgatory, which are both on Earth, and then eight more spheres in Paradiso, are all wrapped together in the Primo Mobile as just consequences of motion itself, which spreads out from the calm center of the nature of the Universe, and also creates Time.

It’s a bit like 94 cantos are all wrapped together into a point or idea or concept of Motion, before we reach that which embeds this point, and thus also embedding the totality of the Creation and cosmos as well. Continue reading “Before the Empyrean – the 10th Heaven”

The Creation of the Angels

In Canto 29, Dante describes the origins of the Angelic Beings, as Beatrice can see in the Eternal Mind that the Pilgrim has some questions.

Firstly, the argument is that the Angels were created in order to reflect and “resplendor” the Divine Glory throughout all of Being and Existence (“Subsisto”), in their different natures. Therefore “new loves blossomed from the Eternal Love”.

Secondly, as for the “when”, Beatrice explains that the Angels, the Heavens and the Earthly were all created at the same time, like “three arrows from a three-stringed bow.” This threefold creation was “rayed into existence all at once, without beginning, with no interval.” Continue reading “The Creation of the Angels”

The Sun, and the Fixed Stars

Reading the Paradiso for the third, and now the fourth time, has been a fully different experience from the first journey through the spheres up to the Empyrean. The narrative seems even less structured than in the other two books, which is partly suggested by the idea that all the souls are living in the Empyrean, but things are reflected into nine spheres to accommodate the nature of the Pilgrim’s intellect and capability for comprehension. But what stands out after the reading of the first 8 spheres, is how deep and rich the Sun and the Fixed Stars are on theology, and in a blend with philosophy. They are also the two biggest spheres in the book, with 4,5 Cantos for the Sun, and 5 full Cantos (mid 22 to mid 27) for the Fixed Stars. Continue reading “The Sun, and the Fixed Stars”

The Examination of Virtues for the Pilgrim

The threefold examination of the Pilgrim at the boundary between the material Cosmos and the eternal mind of the Divine is in many ways making a crucial argument about which insights are needed – to open up this Divine Realm within yourself. The key is to expand on the ideas of Faith, Hope and Love in your mind and heart – as a process of “finding” this Realm.

Crucial elements are first, that Faith is “the substance of those hoped-for things, and argument for things we have not seen.” Meaning things like the Good, the Heavens, the Divine – which by definition would be beyond our comprehension, and thus only reachable by a conviction or belief.
Continue reading “The Examination of Virtues for the Pilgrim”

The Divine as Being, and Union

In chapter 5 of St. Bonaventura’s “The Soul’s Journey into God”, the author presents the idea of Pure Being as the Absolute First, and as a necessity from the following reasoning:

“5. Behold, then, if you can, purest being itself and you will realize that it cannot be thought of as received from another. From this, it must necessarily be thought of as absolutely first since it cannot come from nothing or from something.”

This also makes the Divine as Pure Being into “the First and the Last”, the Alpha & Omega, and the Eternal, which is the nature of Dante’s Empyrean in the Highest Sphere of Paradiso. It also connects to Exodus and the story of Moses receiving the Tetragrammaton as the Name of the Divine in 3:14, in one aspect meaning Existence or Being in the fullest sense.
Continue reading “The Divine as Being, and Union”

St. Bonaventura – The Seraphic Doctor

In the second circle of the Sun in Dante’s Paradiso, the main voice is the Light of St. Bonaventure (c.1217-1274) – a professor at the University of Paris, and a leader of the Franciscan Order.

In Bonaventure’s main work “The Soul’s Journey into God” we can see several aspects which Dante is using in the Paradiso, f.ex. a description of the final moments of the ascent:

“For no one is in any way disposed for divine contemplation that leads to mystical ecstasy, [..] such desires are enkindled in us in two ways: by an outcry of prayer [..] and by the flash of insight by which the mind turns most directly and intently towards the rays of Light.”
Continue reading “St. Bonaventura – The Seraphic Doctor”

Richard of St. Victor

In his “On Trinity and Creation”, Richard of St. Victor (c.1100-1173) writes about the nature of the mystic ascent towards the Divine, which shows us some of the inspiration and background for Dante’s Paradiso:

“You see our starting point, our destination, and the steps of our ascent: by means of hope and love [we ascend] from Faith toward Divine Knowledge, and through Divine Knowledge [we ascend] toward Eternal Life.”
Continue reading “Richard of St. Victor”