Blog Archives

Canto 25: Our Pain is Our Solace

By Ellen Reilander Canto 25 begins with our little group of three travelers climbing, single file, up the narrow gap and flight of stairs to the final terrace of the Mountain of Purgatory. This terrace, the terrace of the Lustful,

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Canto 24: Creation as a Sacramental

By Joel Morehouse Appetite and desire are strange things. Like an emotion, which “moves us out” from mental stasis to activity, the appetite seeks satisfaction. A good appetite is a sign of health, but like so many other aspects of

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Canto 23: The Mercy of God and the Mercy of Others

By Fr. Joe McCaffrey Dante begins this canto on gluttony searching for the voice which has told him of those who have been satisfied by fasting, such as John the Baptist with his sparse diet of locusts and honey. But

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Canto 22: God Uses All to Bring Us Closer

By Shannon Loughlin Newly freed from his trials in purgatory, the Roman poet Statius joins Dante and Virgil in canto 22 on their climb up the mountain. It is in this canto that we hear the fullness of Virgil’s influence

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Canto 21: Living Water

By Fr. George Heyman Still plagued by questions as Canto 20 ends Dante struggles to understand several things as Canto 21 opens. Why did the earth quake? [20.127] What was the meaning of the acclamation, “Glory to God in the

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Canto 20: Beginning to Purge the Sins of the She-Wolf

By Sebastian Mahfood In Canto 20 of the Purgatorio, we find that Dante leaves Pope Adrian V to finish his purgation in peace though Dante is still thirsty for more conversation from him. Given the rather significant population of souls

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Canto 19: Hope to Press Forward

By Fr. Paul Tomasso It might be natural to try to forget that one is in Purgatory but this is impossible in Canto 19 because the very opening verses are gray and mysterious with references to the heatless light of

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Canto 18: Moving Promptly Toward the Good

By Fr. Peter Mottola As he continues his journey up the mountain of Purgatory, Dante encounters a large group of the slothful. These souls, who in life were slow to pursue what they knew to be good, are now running

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Canto 17: A Tale of Two Cities

By Fr. Christopher Gray Following our guide’s own example, pause for a second to marvel at the amazing things Dante is accomplishing in his mashup of images and sources. Just a couple cantos ago, we encountered three examples of mercy:

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Canto 16: God’s Law Will Set You Free

By Fr. Christopher Seiler God placed in the human soul an irascible appetite that is ordered to self-preservation and the avoidance of evil. When this God-given passion goes awry, the human soul becomes wrathful. In this sixteenth canto Dante finds

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Canto 15: Seeing Clearly

By Nicholas Dube It is now 3 p.m. and as Dante and Virgil round the mountain the sun shines upon their faces.  But a different light suddenly blinds Dante, so dazzling in its intensity that when Dante attempts to shield

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Canto 13: Envy and the Zero-Sum-Game Mentality

By Christine Schintgen What does envy have to do with mercy? Dante shows us how by its very nature envy is diametrically opposed to mercy. If mercy desires to bestow kindness on the other because God has bestowed kindness on

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Canto 12: Art Draws Man Deeper into Truth

By Bill Cook I often think of Purgatorio 12 when I am in Florence. My favorite church there is San Miniato al Monte which, as the name suggests, is on a hill overlooking Florence. Last summer I climbed the ancient

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Canto 11: Moving Toward True Humility

By Nora Hamerman “O vanity of human powers, / how briefly lasts the crowning green of glory, / unless an age of darkness follows!” [lines 91-93] These words set the stage to untangle the moral knot that Dante proposes in

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Canto 10: The Burden of Pride

By Nora Hamerman “And further I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 19:24). These words of Jesus’

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Canto 9: The Only Way is Forward

By Caitlin Bootsma As he sleeps, Dante begins Canto 9 with a dream. In what can only be explained as foreshadowing of the purification to come, Dante is seized by an eagle and brought to a “sphere of fire” wherein

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Canto 8: Seeing Beyond the Veil

By Aaron James It is dusk in the Valley of the Rulers, and Dante obligingly paints the picture for us, with a description of sunset that is memorable for its melancholy beauty: “That hour had fallen when the sailor bends

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Canto 7: Clothed in the Three Holy Virtues

By Deacon Tony Amato Canto 7 begins with Virgil letting Sordello know just who it is that he has encountered: “I am Virgil, and for no other failing did I lose Heaven but my lack of Faith.” [lines 7-8] Sordello

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Canto 6: Divine Mercy and Prayer

By Fr. Ryan Erlenbush The sixth canto of the Purgatorio mirrors the sixth cantos of Inferno and Paradiso in which Dante discusses the social order in progressively larger circles—from Florence, to Italy, to the Empire. In Inferno 6, we heard

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Canto 5: The Waiting Game

By Fr. Marcus Pollard While the Purgatorio is a single work, Dante’s vision of the state and experiences of the suffering souls of the dead has them divided between “ante-purgatory” and “purgatory” proper. In Canto 5, Dante and Virgil are

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