The Divine Comedy: Week 37, Farewell to Virgil

And so, the Pilgrim and Virgil get to the top of Mount Purgatory, the sins of the Pilgrim purged on each terrace. As the Pilgrim says in Canto XXIII:
...I came up here
climbing and ever circling round this mount
which straightens in you what the world has bent.
That's a neat summary of Dante's vision of spiritual formation: to straighten in us what the world has bent. Sanctification is straightening our bent loves.

At the top of Mount Purgatory, Virgil and the Pilgrim reach the Garden of Eden, the earthly paradise. There Virgil departs from the Pilgrim. If the Pilgrim is going to reach God he will require a different guide.

More on the Pilgrim's new guide in the weeks to come, but for today a farewell to Virgil.

Again, in the symbolism of the Comedy the pagan poet Virgil represents Reason. And Reason, as we've seen, was able to lead the Pilgrim through hell and up Mount Purgatory. But can Reason get you all the way to heaven?

Dante answers, no. Reason might get you to the highest mountaintop on earth, but on earth you'll forever remain. Without faith, you'll go no higher.

At some point in the journey toward God, one must leave Reason behind.

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