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Hymns and Prayers in Dantes Divine Comedy A Journey through the Purgatorio.

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2 Hymns and Prayers in Dantes Divine Comedy A Journey through the Purgatorio

3 Arrival on the Island of Mount Purgatory Souls being ferried from the mouth of the Tiber by the Angel Boatman arrive on the shores of the island of Mount Purgatory singing Psalm 114 (113 A in Vulgata) which begins with the words In exitu Isreael de Agypto. In Dantes story, the Tiber is the waiting place for those who, although they die in the grace and friendship of God, are still in need of purification. Not every soul is immediately taken to the shores of the holy Mount, some souls have to expiate by a delay for a time determined by the Just Will. Psalm 114 (113) is a hymn to the glory and power of God as manifested in the Exodus (Callan 530). The psalm is of special significance in the Easter Liturgy, in which we commemorate the mystery of our redemption, our exit from Egypt. In the Office, it is placed in the four week cycle on the Sunday of the first week, Sunday being our weekly Easter. Dante kneeling before the Angel Boatman click this icon to hear music

4 One can imagine the sweet joy that fills the souls of the elect because of their deliverance from the second death, and because of their eagerness for the expiation that will prepare them for communion with God in paradise. They spontaneously burst into this hymn of gratitude and thanksgiving as they see come into view the place of their expiation. Their being ferried across the waters to the island of Mount Purgatory is reminiscent of the Israelites being brought through the Red Sea to salvation –Mare vidit et fugit (Ver. 3). Traditionally, Gregorian Chant has eight tones, plus one special tone called the Tonus Peregrinus. In the Norbertine Liturgy at least, this tone is used only for Psalm 114 (113) and no other. Psalm 114 (113) is a central psalm in the Norbertine Paschal Vespers, an ancient Liturgy celebrated only during the Easter Octave and the Sundays of the Easter Season. (Among the Latin rites, only the Ambrosian rite has a similar custom). The psalm is chanted during the procession to the baptismal fount. The souls of the elect arrive on the shores of Mount Purgatory singing psalm 114 click this icon to hear music

5 Ante Purgatory Before beginning their expiation on Mount Purgatory, some souls are delayed in Ante-Purgatory, because they made God wait during their lives, repenting only at the end. Ante-Purgatory has four classes of sinners on varying levels at the base of the cliff. The first two classes of souls are those of the excommunicated, and then of the indolent. Dante does not have these souls say a particular prayer, but they all petition urgently that he obtain from those still living on earth, prayers that will hasten them to their ascent. Indeed, this is the request of all the souls on the Holy Mountain, but those at the base of the cliff petition for these prayers even more urgently. The souls of the late repentant coming to speak with Dante

6 Therefore Judas Maccabeus made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin. From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all in the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead. (CCC 1032) In the Missa pro Defunctis the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) does not end with the usual miserere nobis and dona nobis pacem, but in petitions for the dead: dona eis requiem, and dona eis requiem sempiternam click this icon to hear music

7 Those who died by violence without the last rites The third class of sinners at the base of the Mountain are those who died by violence without the last rites, but repented in their last hour. They sing the Miserere (Ps. 51 (50)) verse by verse in alternating chorus as they go about the Mountain base. The Miserere is a prayer of penitence and humble supplication. It is the fourth of the seven psalms known from ancient times as the penitential psalms. It is presented anew to us on the Friday of every week, so that it may become an oasis of meditation in which we can discover the evil that lurks in the conscience and beg the Lord for purification and forgiveness (Bl. John Paul II, General Audience, 7/30/03). Here at the convent, in addition to the times of its cycle in the breviary, we chant the Miserere daily, (except for the Easter Octave when psalm. 118 (117) is sung), after the midday meal, as we enter in the choir in procession for the Hour of None. Bonconte died without the last rites click this icon to hear music

8 The souls who died by violence, repenting in their last moments are the first souls that we encounter on the Island of Mount Purgatory who offer prayers to God. Reciting the Miserere they offer prayers of repentance –sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus (ver. 19), and petition for aid – a peccato meo munda me (ver. 4). While these sentiments are characteristic of all the souls expiating on the Holy Mountain, they are particularly appropriate for this class of souls who still need to have these sentiments take deep root, because their late repentance did not give them sufficient time to imbibe them. This prayer, as with every prayer offered by the penitents on the Holy Mountain, serves not only for expiation of sin, but also to form in the souls of the prayers the sentiments that they express. La Pia asking Dante to obtain prayers from those still living for her speedy ascent up the Holy Mountain

9 The Flowering Valley of Negligent Rulers The Salve Regina is the prayer of the souls in the Flowering Valley of Rulers. They are the final class of late repentant souls waiting in Ante-Purgatory. The souls here are shown more indulgence than the other late repentants, because, their divinely bestowed responsibility to administer temporal affairs absorbed all their time, so that they only repented at the end of their life. The appropriateness of this hymn as the prayer of the inhabitants of the valley is found within its verses: ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes in hac lacrymarum valle. Theirs is literally a valley of tears and sighs, and they turn to the Blessed Virgin for pity. As with most of the prayers in the commedia, the Salve Regina expresses in some way the physical condition of the singing souls, and the physical condition of the penitents is in turn an expression of their state of soul. The Valley of Negligent Rulers click this icon to hear music

10 From about the 13 th century, the Salve Regina began to make its way into the Churchs Liturgy as a concluding anthem of Compline. Today, in the Roman Breviary it retains this early tradition although it has been, and continues to be, used in other liturgical and paraliturgical settings. Blessed John Paul II, by way of commentary on this hymn asked: How many times have I seen that the Mother of the Son of God turns her eyes of mercy upon the concerns of the afflicted, that she obtains for them the grace to resolve difficult problems, and that they, in their powerlessness, come to a fuller realization of the amazing power and wisdom of Divine Providence? (Homily, August 19 2002). Madonna della Misericordia

11 The Serpent In the Valley of Kings, the holy souls undergo a nightly ritual in which they call to our Lady for protection from the Serpent, the ancient enemy, with the hymn Te Lucis Ante Terminum. In response, the queen of heaven sends two green Angels from her bosom. The serpent soon appears and is put to flight by the Angels. Te lucis Ante Terminum is the Compline hymn in the Roman Breviary. In some places, it is used all year round. Many monasteries replace the Te Lucis with the Christe qui splendor et dies at various seasons of the Liturgical year. The term Compline is derived from the Latin completorium, complement, and has been given to this particular Hour because Compline is, as it were, the completion of all the Hours of the day: the close of the day (New Advent). click this icon to hear music The Angels drive away the Serpent

12 The first two verse of this hymn, (according to the version in the pre- Vatican II breviary) read as follows: Te lucis ante términum,/Rerum Creátor, póscimus,/Ut pro tua cleméntia/Sis præsul et custódia. (Before the ending of the day, we beseech Thee, Creator of all that is, that according to your mercy, You may be our patron and protector). Procul recédant sómnia,/et nóctium phantásmata; /hostémque nostrum cómprime,/Ne polluántur córpora.(May dreams and the phantoms of night be cast far off; And subdue our enemy, least these pollute our bodies). These lines are particularly appropriate in the Valley of Kings both in regards the setting – the approaching of night (see verse one) and the intention of the prayers – protection from the ancient enemy, the serpent (see verse two). By their nightly ritual the inhabitants of the valley, learn to strengthen their faith, hope and love. On the Island of Mount Purgatory souls learn not only to reject vice, but also to become filled with virtue. Our Lady crushes the head of the Serpent

13 The Gates of Purgatory Finally, Dante and Virgil reach, by Divine aid, the gates of the Holy Mountain through which they enter into Purgatory proper. As they pass through the gates, the souls within burst into a Te Deum, the Churchs hymn of praise and thanksgiving. There are no other gates higher than this one, and when one reaches Purgatory, one has entered heaven (Class Video Canto IX). Entrance into purgatory is not a source of sadness for souls, because the soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God and consequently suffers for having failed to respond in a correct and perfect way to this love; and love for God itself becomes a flame, love itself cleanses it from the residue of sin (Benedict XVI General Audience 1/12/11). Passing through these gates, souls are aware that the beatific vision of God is assured. United by Love to those already within the gates, a great cry of rejoicing resounds within the celestial realms at the arrival of another child of God, and the crowd of the elect sing with one voice praising God: Te Deum laudamus te Dominum confitemur…. Dantes Miraculous Transport to the gates of Purgatory click this icon to hear music

14 The Te Deum is used in the Liturgy of hours at the end of Matins (Office of Reading) on those days when the Gloria is said at Mass: all Sundays outside Advent, Lent, and Passiontide; on all feasts (except the Triduum) and on all ferias during Eastertide. In addition to its use in the Divine Office, the Te Deum is occasionally sung in thanksgiving to God for some special blessing (e.g. the election of a pope, the consecration of a bishop, the canonization of a saint, the profession of a religious, the publication of a treaty of peace, a royal coronation, etc.) (New Advent). The Angel Guardian of the Gates of Purgatory

15 Those expiating the sin of pride on the first Conice of Mount Purgatory pray an extended form of the Pater Noster as they walk around pressed to the ground under the weight of heavy boulders. Pride is essentially an act or disposition of the will desiring to be considered better than a person really is…[pride] strives for perverse excellence (Hardon) The Lord's Prayer is the quintessential prayer of the Church. It is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office [Lauds and Vespers], and of the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Integrated into the Eucharist it reveals the eschatological character of its petitions, hoping for the Lord, "until he comes" CCC 2776. The Penance of the Proud The Proud

16 The opposite of pride is the humble acceptance of the truth about ourselves, namely that we are poor creatures dependent on God for all things. Thus, it is fitting that the Pater Noster, which is a humble acknowledgement of our dependence on God our Father, and at the same time a petition for his providence, be the basis of the prayer of the proud. Every petition of the prayer is for the grace of humility and subservience to Gods will, and the last petition is for the good of others (Ciardi 125). In order to attain to the vision of God, the proud must abandon the vice of seeking to be like God but, without, God, and contrary to God. They must learn the virtue of which our Lord spoke of when he said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 18:3).

17 The envious The souls who through envy failed in Love of neighbor during their earthly life pray the Litany of the saints as they expiate their sin on the second cornice of the Mountain. Envy is sadness and discontent at the excellence, good fortune, or success of another person. It implies that one considers oneself somehow deprived by what one envies in another or even that an injustice has been done (Hardon). At the heart of envy is a failure in love, and this is the breakdown of community. The envious have their eyes sewn shut, for it was through the eyes that envy of neighbor entered their hearts. In addition, the support that they must give one another as a result of their blindness teaches them to rely on one another, forging the bonds of community love. Ciardi notes that in praying the litany of the saints, the envious spirits are invoking those who are most free of envy. The significance of the communion of saints is precisely that it is a communion, bound together by the bonds of Love. They pray to the saints that they may be like the saints, full of love for God and neighbor. Ciardi also notes that they are chanting pray for us rather than pray for me as they might have prayed on Earth in their envy (146). Among the Souls of the Envious

18 Through the litany, the Church invokes the Saints on certain great sacramental occasions and on other occasions when her imploration is intensified: at the Easter vigil, before blessing the Baptismal fount; in the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism; in conferring Sacred Orders of the episcopate, priesthood and deaconate; in the rite for the consecration of virgins and of religious profession; in the rite of dedication of a church and consecration of an altar; at rogation; at the station Masses and penitential processions; when casting out the Devil during the rite of exorcism; and in entrusting the dying to the mercy of God. The Litanies of the Saints are expressions of the Church's confidence in the intercession of the Saints and an experience of the communion between the Church of the heavenly Jerusalem and the Church on her earthly pilgrim journey (Directory 235). The clip below was recorded at St. Johns Cathedral in Fresno during the Solemn Professions and the Solemn Erection of our community as an independent priory of the Praemonstratensian Order, on January 29 th of this year. click this icon to hear music The Communion of Saints

19 The Wrathful The souls of the wrathful, situated on the third ledge of Mount Purgatory expiate their sins in a dark and stinging fog and they offer up three prayers every one beginning with Agnus Dei. The Agnus Dei, the litany which accompanies the breaking of the bread, asks for mercy and addresses Jesus as the Passover Lamb whose sacrificed body has poured out his blood for the forgiveness of sins. The Agnus Dei is the same as that cited in the Book of the Apocalypse, which proclaims the worthiness of the Lamb that was slain and the blessedness of those invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. The antiquity of the Agnus Dei in the Roman rite is such that many scholars accept that it was Pope Sergius I, 687-701, who introduced it in the Mass. The third invocation, Agnus Dei, asks for peace because the Blessed Eucharist is a Sacrament of Peace because it is the means whereby all who receive it are bound together in unity and peace (priest in communion rites). The souls of the Wrathful

20 The lamb is the symbol of meekness. Meekness is the virtue that moderates anger and its disorderly effects. It is a form of temperance that controls every inordinate movement of resentment at another persons character or behavior (Hardon). While the stinging fog serves to heal the wrathful of their corrosive state of spirit, and of that blindness inculcated in the soul by unreasonable rage, the suppliant cry of the penitents to the Lamb of God, sung in perfect unison serves to inculcate the virtue of Meekness and the virtue of brotherly love. It is because of our Lords meekness that He could accept all the insults of humanity, He accepted it even unto the shedding of His blood, and by His wounds, He makes into one all whom sin has driven apart, bringing peace between those who were divided. The Agnus Dei is a fitting prayer for the wrathful.

21 The Slothful Dante does not assign a prayer to the souls of the slothful. The run around the fourth cornice shouting out the whip and the rein of Sloth. Sloth is too little love for the good resulting in a sluggishness of soul in seeking after the good. Later in the Purgatrio, Dante will be severely reprimanded by Beatrice precisely for not pressing further towards "the Good beyond which nothing exists on earth to which man may aspire" (33:22). Beatrice judges, and Virgil will come to acknowledge, that this sloth was his chief sin. It was the reason why he was lead astray so that in the middle of his pilgrimage he found himself in a dark wood. All the Souls in Purgatory are there for a failure in Love. Those on the lower slopes of the Mountain - the proud, envious and wrathful - are there because of bad Love. The slothful have too little love. Those souls on the higher reaches of the Holy Mountain - the avaricious, the gluttons and the lustful - have an immoderate love. The purpose of purgatory is to bring souls to a right love. Souls of the Slothful click this icon to hear music. This piece is part of the Gradual from the Missa pro Defunctis

22 The Avaricious The 25 th verse of the 119 th Psalm (118) - My soul clings to the dust – is the prayer of the avaricious expiating their sin on the fifth cornice of Mount Purgatory. The sinfulness of Avarice is the fact that it turns the soul away from God to an inordinate concern for material things. Since such immoderation can express itself either in getting or spending, the Hoarders and the Wasters are here punished together in the same way for two extremes of the same excess (Ciardi). The purpose of psalm 119 (118) is to inculcate and express loyalty and devotion to Gods law, so that whole hearted obedience to the Divine Will, as opposed to self will and service of the world will become the guiding principle of life (Callan 550). In the Roman Breviary Psalm 119, the longest psalm of the Psalter, is divided into twenty two parts for daily recitation during the little hours of the Office. Allegorical Image of the Human Heart with the seven deadly sins. The Toad represents Avarice

23 The Avaricious do penance for their sin by lying outspreaded face down on the ground as they weep. In the Purgatorio, as with the other two Cantica of the Comedy, Dantes idea of Contrapasso is always at work. Contrapasso is a perfect system of divine justice for human ontology – that is, our state of being defines our place in the cosmos (Mahfood, The Four Levels of Allegory). The exterior posture of the penitents is an expression of the interior reality of their souls, expressed by the verse – my soul clings to the dust. Just as in life, they clung to material wealth, which is passing and dust. So now, they cling to the dust in expiation. Commenting on this verse, St. Robert Bellarmine says: My soul hath cleaved to the pavement to the groveling things of this world; quicken me according to thy word; grant that I may lead a life agreeable to your law; for by my love of the things of this world I am become a carnal man; but if I should live according to your law, which is a spiritual one, I shall adhere to God and become one spirit with Him. The Avaricious click this icon to hear music

24 Statius Whenever a soul feels so healed and purified that he is ready to ascend to Paradise, there is an earthquake on the Mountain as the soul rises, and there is such a loud peal as all cry: Gloria in excelsis Deo. In Canto 20 of the Pugatorio, such a cry is raised up for Statius, an ancient poet, who in the comedy represents the triumph of the purified soul. He had been expiating the sin of prodigality on the fifth Cornice for over five hundred years, and prior to that had spent over four hundred years in Ante Purgatory for hiding his Christian faith and so making God wait. The Gloria is a very ancient hymn of Greek Origin…It is a beautiful Trinitarian doxology which begins with the hymn of the Angel at Bethlehem. It is a joyful answer to the Kyrie and is the song of the redeemed who proclaim the greatness of God and Christ, and with an eager confidence implore a share in the graces of redemption ( Amiot 38). The Gloria is sung at Mass on Sundays outside of Lent and Advent, and on feast days, solemnities and special solemn occasions. Dante with Statius and Matilda click this icon to hear music

25 Like the souls in Ante Purgatory, who cannot pass into Purgatory proper until they have served their allotted time, or obtained aid by the prayers of the faithful to shorten their time, the souls on the Mountain cannot ascend to their celestial bliss until they are wholly healed and purified. Before Purgation [the soul] does not wish to climb, but the will High Justice sets against that wish moves it to will pain as it once willed crime(Canto XXI :64). When a soul is finally done with its purgation, so that it is pure and holy, it is free to ascend to enjoy the vision of God, and all of heaven rejoices, giving glory to God for his marvelous achievement.

26 The Gluttons The souls of the gluttons expiate their sin on the sixth cornice by their deep hunger pangs as they pray these words from Ps. 51 – O Lord, my lips. Gluttony is an inordinate desire for the pleasure connected with food or drink. The Domine labia mea opens the Office of Matins Office (Ofiice of Readings). The Verse and response taken from Psalm 51:17are V. Domine labia mea aperies, R. Et os meum annutiabit laudem tuam. Our mouths are given us to praise the Lord, regardless of the activity that we are engaging them in at any given time (e.g. eating or speaking). St. Paul tells us: Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever else you do, do all to the glory of God 1 Cor. 10:31. Thus, it is fitting that it is by this prayer of praise that the gluttons loosen the knot of debt that they owe eternity for in using their mouths to seek their own pleasure they did not praise God. Souls of the Gluttons click this icon to hear music

27 The Lustful This Hymn, traditionally sung at the office of Matins on Saturday, is the prayer of the Lustful who are being purified by fire. The Hymn is a prayer for chastity begging God, of His supreme clemency, to burn lust from the soul and to leave the suppliant chaste (Ciardi). These lines from the hymn are particularly appropriate both for the setting – the penitents are burning in a flame – and for the penance – since they burned with the unholy fire of lust in their earthly lives, on the Mount they burn with the fire of Charity: Lumbos adure congruis/tu caritatis ignibus/accincti ut adsint perpetim/tuisque prompti adventibus. (Burn our lions/with fitting fires of Charity/that girded, they may be present continually/and be ready at your coming). Catherine of Genoa described purgatory not so much as a physical location but an inner fire. The term purgatory does not indicate a place, but a condition of existence …in which every trace of attachment to evil must be eliminated, every imperfection of the soul corrected. (Bl. John Paul II General Audience 8/4/99). click this icon to hear music Souls of the Lustful

28 Before the pilgrims can enter into the earthly paradise, they must all pass through the wall of fire, which Ciardi notes is the same fire, that burns the souls of the lustful. All souls, even if they do not have any purgation on the Holy Mountain must walk through this fire. Man, due to Original Sin, is born with the three-fold lusts described by St. John as the concupiscence of the eyes, the concupiscence of the flesh and the pride of life. He must be purified of these lusts before he can see the vision of God. In the comedy, entrance into the earthly paradise symbolizes the attainment of Original Justice which is a state in which one is purified of all lusts and so is truly Master of himself. But, to attain the vision of God original justice is not enough, faith, hope and charity are necessary.

29 The Earthly Paradise The sight of Matilda, radiant with joy in the Earthly paradise, confuses Dante the pilgrim. He does not expect that such joy to be taken in the things of the earth, beautiful as they are. Matilda tells him that he would find the answer to his puzzle over her joy in these words: quia delectasti me, Domine, in facture tua: et in operibus manuun tuarum exsultabo Ps 92:4 (91). St Robert Bellamine commenting on this verse said: in studying the works of your hands I have been delighted beyond measure with them, but it was not your works that delighted me, for I did not dwell upon them, but it was in yourself I delighted. Psalm 92 it is set for recitation on Saturdays at the hour of Lauds for the cycle of the second and fourth weeks. All things are pure to those who are pure. Hence, Matilda, symbol of the active life of the soul, and Dantes guide to Beatrice in the earthly paradise, can take delight in the works of God. At this level of the ascent, after the purification of earthly lusts through fire, man, the pilgrim, may take delight in the things of the world with no fear of becoming attached to them. Restored to the state of original justice, there is no more danger, through created things he may ascend to the most High. Paradise click this icon to hear music

30 When Dante first sees Matilda by Lethe, she is walking in the woods of the earthly paradise, singing. Her song isBeati quorum tecta sunt pecata an elision of Psalm 32 (31). This psalm which we pray on Thursday of the first of the four week cycle, is the second of the seven psalms that have traditionally been called the penitential psalms. St Cyril of Jerusalem (fourth century) uses Psalm 32[31] to teach catechumens of the profound renewal of Baptism, a radical purification from all sin (cf. Procatechesi, n. 15). Using the words of the Psalmist, he too exalts divine mercy (John Paul II General Audience 5/19/04). Matilda song is about the waters of Lethe. In them, the words of this psalm are fulfilled: Beatus cui remissa est iniquitas et obtectum est peccatum. St. Robert Bellarmine, commenting on its first verses says: No one can fully appreciate the value of health until they have had to deplore the loss of it. Dante will have to deplore his sins before he can drink of Lethe whose waters wash from the souls who drink from it, every last memory of sin (Ciardi 291). Dante is about to undergo a baptismal ritual in which he will drink from and be washed in the waters of Lethe. It is Beatrice must prepare him to drink these waters. She arrives in the procession of the heavenly pageant Matilda gathering Flowers by the Waters of Lethe click this icon to hear music

31 Beatrice The elders call forth Beatrice, from the heavenly pageant with the words Veni Sponsa de Libano taken from the song of songs 4:8. The heavenly pageant is an allegory of the Church Triumphant. At her appearance, the angel chorus criesbenedictus qui venis Blessed are you who come, a slight change from the verse in Matt. 21: 9, which says Blessed is he who comes. The appearance of Beatrice marks a new beginning in the soul life of Dante the Pilgrim. Up till now he has, by the aid of Virgil (human reason), journeyed to the heights of virtue, and attained to the state of original justice. Now, he must begin a new life of Faith, Hope and Love so as to attain to the vision of God. It is Beatrice, the symbol of Holy Mother Church, dressed in the colors of the theological virtues, who will be his guide. She is called forth from the Heavenly Pageant as Sponsa, bride because the Church is the bride of Christ. At her appearance the angels cry benedictus qui venis (cf. Mt. 21:8) for she brings, tidings of great joy, namely Revelation, by which man attains to God. click this icon to hear music The Arrival of Beatrice

32 Cleansed in the Waters of Lethe As Matilda immerses Dante in Lethe, after his confession and deep repentance, she sings these words of psalm 51: Asperges me hyssop, et mundabor, (sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be cleansed) then, she made him drink of the sweet waters of forgetfulness of sin. Beatrices sharp reprimand brings Dante to a teary confession and to such repentance that all the use and substance of the world which he most loved appeared his foe. The Baptismal ritual begun with the calling of Dantes name, is nearing its completion. He has renounced sin and all its works, and been immersed in waters that wipe away sin. Having drank from the river Lethe, he will soon enter into the new life of his soul, in faith, hope and charity. St. Robert Bellamine, in his commentary on this verse of the psalm notes that David is alluding to the ceremony described in numbers 15, where three things are said to be necessary to expiate uncleanness: the ashes of a red heifer, burnt as a holocaust; water mixed with the ashes; and hyssop to sprinkle it. The ashes signify the death of Christ; the water, baptism; and hyssop, faith. Cleansed in the Waters of Lethe

33 The Corruption of The Church Dante witnesses, the heavenly chariot (a symbol of Holy Mother Church) from the heavenly pageant transformed into a seven headed monster being driven by a giant. On the monster is riding an ungirt harlot. This vision is an allegory of the corruption of the Church. The seven holy nymphs (who represent the theological and cardinal virtues) raise a lament with the words of psalm 79 (78) Deus Venerunt Gentes… Psalm 79 appears in the Liturgy of Hours on Thursday of week three as the little hour of the day. The Liturgy of the Hours is meant to sanctify the temporal order. It extends, the mystery of Christ celebrated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, all through the day. As we chant the psalms of the Office, the realities that these words signify are made present, and efficacious, and the mystery extends to the limits of the earth for the praise of God and the sanctification of souls. Psalm 79 laments the destruction that enters Gods Holy church at the advent of the nations, i.e. those powers opposed to the reign of God: Deus venerunt gentes in hereditatem tuam polluerunt templum sanctum tuum, posuerunt Ierusalem in ruinas (79:1) – O God, the nations have come into your inheritance, they have defiled your holy temple, they have placed Jerusalem in ruins. Dante laments the state of the church of his time, but in the words of Beatrice, who, as a symbol of the Church speaks the word of Christ, we see that in the end the Church will triumph: modicum et non videbitis me; et iterum, modicum, et vos videbitis me (Jn. 14:16). The whore of Babylon click this icon to hear music

34 At Beatices command, the seven holy nymphs lead Dante, the pilgrim to the second spring in the earthly paradise, Eunoe. The waters of this spring strengthen every good. Having drunk form Lethe, and received a final healing reprimand for Beatrice, he drinks from these waters. Dantes purification is complete. He has been baptized into the new life of the Blessed in heaven. I came back from those holiest waters new, Remade, reborn, like a sun-wakened tree That spreads new foliage to the Spring dew In sweetest freshness, healed of Winters scars; Perfect, pure and ready for the stars (Last lines of the Canto XXXIII of Dantes Purgatorio)

35 This presentation is dedicated to our most Holy and Loving Mother, the Queen of Heaven, under the title Flos Carmeli. May she find many persons in the Pilgrim Church who will assist her in bringing relief and aid to her beloved children, the holy souls in Purgatory. Languentibus in Purgatorio Qui purgantur adore nimio, Et torquentur gravi supplicio, Subveniat tua compassio O Maria This presentation is © Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph.

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