Blog Archives

Canto 34: Setting Our Faces Toward Heaven

By Jodi Schott The culmination of Dante’s journey through hell leads to a monstrous Lucifer and grievous sinners. Dante’s journey thus far has been an exploration of the levels of human sin; a hierarchy of wrongdoing. At the center of

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Canto 33: A Hard Hatred to Gnaw On

By Fr. Royce Gregerson At the beginning of Canto 32, Dante expressed to us his hesitancy to speak about the inner circle of Hell through whose second and third rounds we continue in Canto 33. He does not have “the

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Canto 32: Hate and Being Frozen Inward

By Ron Herzman It’s probably a good idea to remind ourselves as we come closer to the bottom of the Inferno that we are only one third of the way through the journey. Dorothy Sayers’ wonderful quip comes to mind:

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Canto 31: When Language Divides

By Lucy Bennett Dante and Virgil approach the ninth and final circle of Hell, and Dante begins the journey by comparing Virgil’s tongue to the lance of Achilles. “The very tongue that stung me with rebuke so that I flushed

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Canto 30: The Disease of Division

By Fr. Paul Tomasso In Canto 30, Dante and Virgil are completing their trek through the tenth bolgia, one encounter more depressing than another in its exposure of human self-centeredness and sin. In this canto we meet “The Falsifiers”—impersonators (falsifiers

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Canto 29: Alchemy as a Disease

By Robert Rice Canto 29 is unusual. It seems to lack a central theme or controlling idea; Virgil seems to know and understand less than Dante at the beginning of the canto; the serious moral question of the familial obligation

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Canto 28: A Disposition to Divide

By Robert Rice Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Gal 6:7) The scene Dante and Virgil encounter in the ninth bolgia is that of wounds and mutilations beyond the poet’s capacity to fully describe. In lines 7

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Canto 27: By Your Words Will You Be Judged

By Robert Rice “The last state of that man becomes worse than the first” (Mt 12:45) Canto 27 begins exactly where Canto 26 ended, at the conclusion of Ulysses’ story of his final voyage. Ulysses and Diomedes pass on and

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Canto 26: Non Plus Ultra

By Fr. Daniel White On March 4th, four religious sisters of the Missionaries of Charity—the religious community founded by soon-to-be Saint Teresa of Calcutta—were brutally murdered in Yemen for doing nothing other than serving Jesus in the poorest of the

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Canto 25: Grasping at Emptiness

By Colleen Trevisani In Canto 25 we find the “Noble Thieves” stealing one another’s bodies. As Ciardi notes, in life these thieves were greedy to possess what belonged to others, but now they do not even possess their own body

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Canto 24: Stealing Christ From Others

By Peter Jesserer Smith When I was in college, I considered myself a real firebrand for the Catholic faith. Subduing my enemies with argumentative prowess, I enjoyed skewering them with a combination of ruthless wit and an expansive command of

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Canto 23: Woe to You Hypocrites

By Jonathan Schott Apparently, King Frederick II liked to execute people by placing them in lead and melting it around them [cf. line 66]. How horrible! This is the image Dante is trying to get across when he describes the

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Canto 21: Those Who Play with Fire Get Burned

By Joel Morehouse It’s always interesting to see where various characters end up in the Divine Comedy. Some do well, others seem to get caught by a technicality. While passing through the fifth ditch of Malebolge in Canto 21, Dante’s

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Canto 20: The Creative Power of the Mystery of Life

By Shannon Loughlin In Canto 20, Dante and Virgil descend to the fourth ditch of Malebolge, where the diviners and fortune tellers are tortured. Dante is at first overwhelmed by their punishment, their heads twisted so fully that their tears

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Canto 19: Colluding for Power

By Fr. George Heyman In Canto 19, we enter upon the third “bolgia” of the eighth circle of Hell wherein are punished the “simonists”. Who are these sinners? “Simonists” are those who buy their way into a position of power

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Canto 18: Let Your Yes Mean Yes and Your No Mean No

By Aaron James The beginning of Dante’s journey found the poet at the midpoint of his life, lost in the dark wood of sin. As he enters the eighth circle of hell, Dante has reached another midpoint of sorts: this

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Canto 17: Money for the Sake of Money

“Behold the beast with the barbed tail, who flies past mountains, scattering armies, smashing walls! Behold the beast whose stench sickens the world!” [17.1-3] By Ron Herzman Even by Dante’s standards, that’s a pretty dramatic introduction. The beast is Geryon,

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Canto 16: The Corrupting Influence of Easy Wealth

By Fr. Royce Gregerson In the 16th Canto, we continue to spend time with the same sinners we were with in the 15th Canto—the sodomites. Remember, for their punishment the sodomites are forced into continual motion. Thus the three Florentine

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Canto 15: The Consequences of Choices

By Julie Butler The third round of the 7th circle, with its Blasphemers, Sodomites, and Usurers, is a barren desert whose burning hot sands are subjected to a perpetual rain of fire. There is no way a mortal like Dante

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Canto 14: The Greatness of Good and Evil

By Fr. Peter Mottola In Msgr. Luigi Giussani’s landmark book, The Religious Sense, he tells of an unforgettable conversation he had with a young man, a budding atheist, who said to him:  “Listen, all that you are trying so forcefully

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