Cantos 11: order and disorder– loves

In the Inferno Virgil tells about how Hell is ordered. Anthony Esolen reminds the reader that all things that God creates are good, including Hell. Hell good? He goes on to say that Hell is justice enacted for unrepented sins against ourselves, God, and others. Most people cry for justice in this world. Some are wrongly accused, others are never brought to prosecution. Is it not just for those who have broken the law and have no remorse or repentance that justice must be done?

In Canto 11 of Purgatory, we continue to meet the prideful.

In Canto 11 of Paradise, Thomas Aquinas talks about Francis of Assisi. Expounding upon love.

Love God with your entire being and love your neighbor as yourself.

This is the summation of all the commands. We humans break every commandment. Distorting love or disregarding love all together. Some will even love evil and continue to ignore what they know is good. Pride in not wanting or needing or thinking he or she need to change.

Purgatory is the ascent toward love. Toward the Edenic delight, going back to how things were before the Fall, before man lost his way, where sin is no longer. Paradise is united with love Himself. Sin is lost to the memory as though never existing. Hell is being stuck in the self, stuck in the mind, stuck in regret, hopeless, love only a memory, anxiety and worry and eternally stuck in habit of their most egregious sin.

But our goal in this life is to be united with the fire of love that consumes the whole being. Unlike any love that we know here. We only know glimpses or pieces of what Love truly is. Yet we know and see more of God’s love the higher we ascend the mountain in obedience to Jesus Christ. We can know (intellect), but we also must obey (will).

In Dostoyevsky’s novels the diabolical is manifested in the madness of characters. Control of person loved, murder, poisonous ideas all lead to the characters madness, sometimes even suicide–complete despair, the church fathers have called despair the sin against the holy Spirit. All of our acts are sins against ourselves, God, and others. We can create our own Hell. Or we can ascend the holy mountain in our lifetime as we pay for the consequences of our sin, here and now. Love will not force us to do anything. But God’s grace enables us to go on, to repent, to move in God’s love. Love will even allow us to choose Hell.

But the great hope is union with Love Himself. To be who we are–to love God and ourselves and others. To live and not to be dead to ourselves, God, or others. There is mercy, but there is justice. John the Baptist said repent, for the kingdom is at hand. Jesus Christ is the one who sets us free from our attachments to evil, habits, distorted loves. Sets us free to love as God loves. Teaching us and transforming us, mind, body, spirit to love. Most of the time it takes a lifetime.

 

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