Father Barron and the Catholicism
film crew are currently in Florence, Italy, on their final filming excursion for the Catholicism
In addition to visiting the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as the "Duomo") and the Uffizi Gallery, which boasts of masterpieces from the great Renaissance painters Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and countless others, Father Barron and the team visited the birthplace of one of Christianity's greatest poets, Dante Alighieri.
Dante was born in Florence and lived from 1265-1321. His great poem, the Divine Comedy
, has influenced Christian thinkers for generations. In his book, And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation
, Father Barron reflects upon this epic poem at length, expounding upon its correlation to the deepest truths of the spiritual life. Here is a portion of that reflection:
"Many have commented that Dante’s Divine Comedy is basically a celebration of seeing. The pilgrim is led from the deepest obscurity at the beginning of the poem to a blinding light at the end, and along the path from darkness to illumination, he is compelled to look at truths about himself and the world with ever deeper vision and comprehension. The Commedia is a mystagogic itinerary, an account of the spiritual journey from confusion and dissolution to clarity and centeredness. It would not be far from the truth to claim that the telos of the Divine Comedy is what we have been calling metanoia, change of vision and consciousness. It is therefore appropriate that we begin our analysis of the transformative power of doctrine with Dante’s great epic.
What has Dante searched out in the course of his itinerary? He has seen the full range of disorder in his spirit, sins both actual and potential, and he has ultimately explored the very root of sinfulness itself, the comical/tragic anti-god which is the fearful and impotent pusilla anima. Like a patient undergoing psychoanalysis, he has descended (properly inspired and guided) into the darkness and narrowness of his inner life inorder to unmask the demons that lurk there. He has tracked down the evil spirits to their deepest spring, uncovering in the end the “original,” that is to say, originating Sin of sins. And in this process, he has come to a real liberation. Only after this necessarily horrible journey is he able to begin the task of purgation and renewal. Interestingly, throughout his sojourn, Dante frequently felt a sort of sympathy for the suffering souls whom he confronted, and Virgil, his mystic guide, consistently upbraided him for this sentiment, reminding him that these sinners were in such a state because of the divine justice. We might be tempted to side with Dante here, but our perspective shifts when we recall that the poem is speaking of the inner life. The aberrations of consciousness that we confront within must not be sympathized with or tolerated; they must be seen and unmasked. It is a profound temptation to coddle and toy with our tendencies toward hatred, violence, self-destruction, and fear, but like the demons in the Scripture whom Jesus ruthlessly and pitilessly expels, the devils within us must be confronted and commanded…The Divine Comedy is patterned according to the paschal mystery of Christ’s passage from death to life, or better, through death to life. It is essential to the Gospel writers and to Dante that the only way to the glory of the resurrection is through the suffering of the cross and the descent into the earth of sin. "
Below is a picture sent from the Word on Fire team on location at the Duomo.
 Robert Barron. And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation (New York: Crossroads Publishing Company, 1998), 29.
 Ibid., 38.
Please pray for the team as they continue their journey, and be assured of their prayers for you!