The Examination of Virtues for the Pilgrim

Gustave Doré, "Paradiso Canto 27" 

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.

Second element is understanding Hope as “sure expectancy of future bliss.” And in the Pilgrim’s case this is the hope for eternal life with the unified body and soul in Heaven.

The third element is where one aims one’s Love, which for Dante is towards the Good. He has reached this conclusion through philosophy, the Scriptures – and his experience that the more one understands the Good, the more one Loves it, which again gives a greater understanding in a reciprocal loop or spiral. Dante also makes the argument that every smaller good is a reflection of the Good itself, which dwells within the Divine Essence. And thus one is bound to be moved towards it, once this dynamic is fully apprehended.

The final point which concludes the examination, is where Dante can feel or experience this Love, which the Pilgrim answers is in every “leaf” of the enleaved Garden of Creation, in accordance with its reflection of the Divine Light. And thus the blessed souls are singing “Holy! Holy! Holy!”. And with this step, the Pilgrim can once again see with even better eyes than before. Meaning that going through this process of inner reflection will give you a more clear and immediate experience of the realm of Paradise for yourself.

This whole passage of the Journey is incredibly deep and in many ways very challenging, but could be immensely rewarding. Suddenly there might be a new clarity and brightness within your own inner life, as well.

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