Canto 18 Paradise: beauty and change in thought

“Let your thought change, for I am near the Lord, the One who lifts the yoke of every wrong.”

Beatrice says this to Dante as they are in Mars the sphere of the warriors of God. Soon they will ascend to Jupiter where they will sees justice represented in the eagle. Dante is entranced by Beatrices’ beauty. Not the fleeting beauty that is superficial and can be lustful. But the beauty that points toward the Good, toward God who created beauty. As Dante has ascended through Purgatory and now Paradise, his thoughts are changing.

The loveliness of the saint, in this case Beatrice causes Dante’s heart to be full with an indescribable goodness and love that can only be reflected from the God of love–love that is divine and is heart changing and transforming.

Have you ever met a beautiful woman who glows because of her good heart? The virtue and devotion to the loving God that is the ground of our being. Her virtue and love of God surpasses that of her physical beauty. This is the beauty that Dante is speaking about. A beauty that points toward its maker–the God of love, the God in three persons, yet One God.

As they ascend from Mars to Jupiter: “… And saw her brilliant shining eyes so clear, so filled with joy, the beauty of that sight defeated all the rest I’d had of her. And as you feel the surging delight in doing well, and come to understand your virtue is advancing day by day, So I could sense that in my sweeping round to higher Heaven there came a widening bow, seeing that wondrous lady grown more grand.”

The closer we come to God, the One who made us and calls us to Him as a lover calls to the beloved, the more beautiful we become. In the will of God is purity, holiness, virtue, goodness. This journey is not a duty. It becomes an adventure of love. Wanting to become more like Christ because of our love and gratefulness toward the One who loved us first. The adverse is denying the God who loves us. Going on our own path toward our own destruction. Even the saints of God fall. But a great friend of mine said when we lose sight to pray for the will to change course to want to want to change. (Terrible paraphrase). Even when we don’t want God’s will, God’s grace is present to lead us or nudge us even if we don’t want to change. God will do everything in his omnipotent power to reveal himself to us. But He cannot force us to do anything. That is who a loving God is.

My desire is to ascend with Christ–to become more like Christ. But am not always willing. I want to follow my own will. Which I have found to be detrimental. But like it says in Proverbs, the sinner will return to his own vomit like a dog. God help us to see your beauty and how Good your will truly is and how short-sighted and perverse we are. Maybe it’ll take a Beatrice to change our hearts.


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