Thursday, February 19, 2015

Inferno - Canto 2 - February 19, 2015

I love it. We no sooner set out on our journey then we stop because we are afraid that we don’t have the courage or nerve to finish it. I was thinking about what this reminded me of. I thought maybe of the many retreats I have been on, leaving with such a high and commitment to change, and then losing heart and courage and falling away soon after. You leave the retreat saying “Lead on Virgil”, but almost immediately you crumple and falter and convince yourself that you don’t have the “stuff” to really change, to be a saint, to change the world. That is where Dante is. He doubts his ability to finish this journey, so why start it. How many times have we felt that way? It also made me think of the renewal our parish is going through now and some of the things that are trying to be implemented. You can become very fired up with the different notions and ideas and what might be, and then there are the moments where you talk yourself into thinking you really don’t have it in you so why put yourself through it all.

It is that moment, when you are on the ground, talking yourself out of taking that first step that we need to hear what Virgil says. Dante was not called on this journey on a whim. Virgil didn’t come here because he was bored. There is purpose, there is meaning, and he was called on this journey by 3 heavenly ladies. Beatrice, Mary, and Lucia formed the intention for this journey and called on Virgil to guide Dante. That should give Dante all the confidence he needs. It is very subtle, but I love the image of how swiftly the messengers move when a request is made. Mary speaks to Lucia and “Lucia…arose and came to the place”. Lucia speaks to Beatrice and she goes as “none on earth were ever swift to seek their good or flee their hurt as I after these words uttered.” Beatrice speaks to Virgil and “she made me hasten more to come; and thus I came to thee”. Even Virgil, who belongs in the Inferno, jumps at the command of the Heavenly request. It speaks to me of an understanding of its authority, of its divinity, in the confidence in its good. Nothing from Heaven comes without it accomplishing good and these 3 understand that much better because they are no longer a part of this world.

Here, in the world, we don’t see that. The idea that everything is for our good is foreign to us. The world wants to shape us into an understanding that everything is random and there is no real meaning. But there is and when you hear God calling you, you should have confidence in that. You should be willing to move forward boldly and strive to accomplish great things. I think about the way I am called to live as a Catholic in the world and what I don’t do that I could. Compare that to those that are being martyred by ISIS probably as I type. I hear Virgil telling me to stand up, “why lodgest in your heart such cowardly fear”. We should hear those words and think back to those moments when we were emblazoned with the fire to change the world. Think back on what that was that made you want to step out into the unknown and live a new life with Christ and show Him to the world. Forget about your notions that you don’t have the “right stuff”. Why have such cowardly fear. Return to your purpose as Dante. Go back and find that call and forget your fear.

This also made me think about Lent, or a New Year’s resolution. How many times have we decided to do something or give up something for Lent and fall the Thursday after Ash Wednesday. I think should be a pep talk to get back up and keep going. Just because you only lasted 36 hours without eating between meals doesn’t mean it isn’t worth keeping up after you fall. There are 100 Cantos and Dante almost quit before the real journey even began. Don’t quit.

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