The Divine Comedy: Week 46, The Trinity

In the final Canto of The Divine Comedy, St. Bernard prays for the Pilgrim, that he may receive the grace to finish his journey and look directly upon God. Our goal, in the words of St. Bernard, is "to turn our eyes upon the Primal Love."

The culmination of The Divine Comedy, then, is the Pilgrim finally beholding God. It's been quite a journey! Descending through hell, scaling Mt. Purgatory, and ascending through the heavens. All to reach what is called the Beatific Vision.

As the Pilgrim beholds God he first sees a light that holds all of creation in love:
O grace abounding and allowing me to dare
to fix my gaze on the Eternal Light,
so deep my vision was consumed in It!

I saw how it contains withing its depths
all things bound in a single book by love
of which creation is the scattered leaves...
Looking more closely into the Light, the Pilgrim then sees it as three circles of differently colored light, each the same circumference in the same space:
Within Its depthless clarity of substance
I saw the Great Light shine into three circles
in three clear colors bound in one same space.
This is Dante's attempt to give us a visual picture of the Trinity. Which a pretty impossible task, even for a poet. Dante is very aware of this, as he has the Pilgrim declare:
How my weak words fall short of my conception,
which is itself so far from what I saw
that "weak" is much too weak a word to use!
Word do fail when it comes to the Trinity. I used to think that this was because the Trinity was a pointless exercise in abstract metaphysics. I've changed my opinion about that. I've come to believe that the Trinity is the doctrine that allows Christians to confess that "God is love." The love that is the Divine Community of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is Being Itself. Like Dante, I might not be able to explain that to anyone. But I believe in this Love more than I believe in anything.

This entry was posted by Richard Beck. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply