The Divine Comedy: Week 43, Faith, Hope and Love

There's a remarkable passage in Canto XX of the Paradisio:

Regnum celorum [Latin: the Kingdom of heaven] suffers violence
gladly from fervent love, from vibrant hope
--only these powers can defeat God's will:

not in the way one man conquers another,
for That will wills its own defeat, and so
defeated it defeats through its own mercy.
The Kingdom of heaven suffering violence is an echo of Jesus' enigmatic words in Matthew 11.12: "the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force."

Here in The Divine Comedy, love and hope are the violent powers that "can defeat God's will," a "will that wills it's own defeat" to extend mercy. We violently seize the kingdom of heaven though love and hope, a seizure God willingly allows so that we might win the kingdom and possess it as our own.

Toward the end of the Divine Comedy, before he can gain entrance to the highest heavens where God dwells, St. Peter interrogates the Pilgrim. And the test? It's faith, hope and love, as seen when Beatrice asks Peter to begin his questioning and testing of the Pilgrim:
now test this man on questions grave or light,
as pleases you, pertaining to that faith
by means of which you once walked on the sea.

If love and hope and faith he truly has,
you will know, for your eyes are fixed upon
the place where everything that is is seen.
Faith, hope and love. This is how we seize and gain entrance to the Kingdom of God.

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