The Divine Comedy: Week 28, Born to Love (PS. If You're Not Reading Fridays, Start Now!)

Finally! We've arrived at the part of the Purgatorio and The Divine Comedy that I've been really wanting to talk about. The point, really, of why we're spending Fridays with Dante. So if you've checked out on Fridays, check in during the coming weeks.

What I want share is Dante's theology of sin, virtue, and spiritual formation as it is unpacked upon the slopes of Mt. Purgatory. We're going to go slow, building this vision up piece by piece over the next few weeks.

Dante's first move is anthropological. We are, Dante asserts, born to be lovers. As Virgil shares in Canto XVIII:
The soul at birth, created quick to love,
will move toward anything that pleases it,
as soon as pleasure causes it to move. 
This "quickness to love," that we experience first as desire and pleasure, turns the heart and mind toward objects in the world. As Vigil continues:
From what is real your apprehensive power
extracts an image it displays within you,
forcing your mind to be attentive to it;

and if, attentive, it inclines toward this,
that inclination is love...
Love draws us toward the world, toward the objects of our desire. And behind all those desires is the Love that is drawing our loves. Our deepest, truest Desire. We are born to love, and our loves are naturally drawn back toward the Source of Love: God. As Augustine prays, "Our hearts our restless, until they rest in Thee." Virgil uses the image of a flame. Our love burns upward, turning our hearts and minds toward heaven:
Just as a fire's flames always rise up,
inspired by its own nature to ascend,
seeking to be in its own element,

Just so, the captive soul begins its quest,
the spiritual movement of its love,
not resting till the thing loved is enjoyed.
This is such a beautiful anthropology, one of the richest visions of what it means to be a human being I've ever encountered.

We're born to love, quick to love, our hearts, like flames, rising up, seeking and searching upward, not resting until the spiritual movement of our love is enjoyed.

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