The Divine Comedy: Week 22, Reason, Revelation and Mystery

While talking to the Pilgrim before their climb up Mount Purgatory, in Canto III Virgil says this:
...madness it is to hope that human minds
can ever understand the Infinite
that comprehends Three Persons in One Being.

Be satisfied with quia [Latin: "because"] unexplained,
O human race! If you knew everything,
no need for Mary to have borne a son.
These sentiments appear all over the Comedy, the limits of human reason in the face of the Infinite and the necessity of special revelation for humanity to know anything about God.

Mystery can be a ticklish business. I would say that, for most of my life, I always felt that an appeal to mystery was a cop-out, a way of ignoring the question and shutting down the conversation. The answer Quia--"Just because"--can be infuriating.

And yet, here on the other side of my middle age, I'm starting to appreciate mystery more and more. I think in my younger years I gave reason too much credit. There are things I know and believe about God that I simply cannot articulate. Words, literally, fail me. Poetry gets a little closer, but not much. My faith is growing more mystical as the years pass. And that has been a great grace.

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