Chapter 23: Gemini — Christ, Mary, and the Saints
A mother bird will eagerly await dawn so that she can go forth and find food for her nestlings — this is a task that she joyfully performs.
Much like that, Beatrice looked eagerly upward, awaiting something good that she knew was soon to happen. Looking at her, Dante also became filled with eager anticipation.
Quickly, what Beatrice was awaiting arrived. She said to Dante, “Look at the Angels of Paradise who celebrate the triumphant Christ, and look at the saved souls who are the fruits of Christ’s triumph.”
Dante saw how bright Beatrice’s face was. He saw how happy her eyes were. But the brightness and the happiness were so high in degree that he knew that he would not be able to describe them.
On a night with a full moon, nymphs surround Diana. Dante saw a Sun — Jesus Christ — that outshone the other lights — the Angels and the saved souls — much like the way that our Sun that shines on the Earth outshines the stars in the night sky.
The Sun Who was Jesus Christ was so bright that Dante was not able to look at Him.
Beatrice said, “The Light Who blinds you now is so strong that nothing is or can be a defense against Him. Within that Light is wisdom and power that created a way for Humankind to go to Paradise.”
Lightning springs into existence and suddenly strikes. Dante’s mind swelled with the vision of Christ, and it was as if his mind were lightning, exploding and breaking boundaries. What happened to his mind Dante could not explain, except to say that it had expanded.
This kind of expansion of the mind is preparation for the experience of Divine Revelation.
Beatrice said to Dante, “Open your eyes. Look at me. What you have just witnessed has expanded your mind, and you can now look at my smile without being incinerated.”
Later, back on Earth, Dante the Poet thought about this moment: Now, trying to remember, I am like a man who has just woken from a deep sleep and has forgotten what he dreamed. But I do remember Beatrice’s invitation, and that is something that I will never forget.
But still, even if Polyhymnia, the Muse of Song, and all the other Muses were to assist me, I would not be able to describe Beatrice’s smile and the glow of her holy face.
These are descriptions that I have to skip. These descriptions are ineffable.
But readers, please remember what I am trying to do in my poem Paradise. My poem has a mighty theme, and my shoulders are mortal, and when I try to carry this theme, I stagger.
Imagine that I am in a boat trying to cross this particular stretch of sea. This is no place for a small boat or for a boat captain who wishes to take it easy.
Beatrice said to Dante, who was still looking at her smile, “Why are you looking so intently at my face? You can see much more here. Look at the Angels and the saved souls with Jesus Christ. They are like flowers in a garden.
“And look at the Rose — the Mother Mary, in whose body the incarnation of God took place. And look at the lilies — the Apostles. The fragrance — the good words and good actions — of the Apostles led many souls to salvation.”
Dante, who was eager to please Beatrice, looked at the lights.
On a sunny day, the sunshine will light a field of flowers and make colors vibrant. Dante saw many lights who were filled with love from the Light Who was brightest. This Light — Jesus Christ — had withdrawn from Dante’s sight because Dante’s eyes were not ready for so strong a Light.
Christ had ascended, but many other splendid lights remained. Because his mind had been transformed, Dante could now look at the many splendors who were still before him. The brightest of all these splendors was Mary, the mother of Christ, to whom Dante prayed daily. This light — a living star — Dante was able to see.
The Angel Gabriel descended, circled Mary, and sang words of praise to her.
Dante saw a ring of fire — the Angel Gabriel — spin around Mother Mary as if the Angel were a fiery crown. Gabriel sang, and the sweetest music that Humankind hears on Earth sounds like thunder compared to Gabriel’s singing for Mother Mary.
Gabriel sang, “I and the other Angels love you, Mother Mary, in whose womb Jesus Christ dwelt, and I will circle as you follow your Son to the Mystic Empyrean and make it more divine with your presence.”
The other souls sang Mary’s name.
Mary then left, following in the path of Jesus.
The Primum Mobile is the Sphere beyond the Sphere of the Fixed Stars. It moves the fastest of all the Spheres and is the closest to the Mystic Empyrean. Dante knew it existed and he looked for it, but it was so far away that he could not see it. Because Dante’s eyes were not strong enough to see the Primum Mobile, he was unable to watch Mother Mary and the Angel Gabriel for very long as they rose higher and further away.
After an infant is finished sucking milk from his mother’s breasts, the infant will raise his arms to his mother, glowing with love.
Much like that, the lights stretched their flames in appreciation of and love for Mother Mary.
And with their flames stretched, the lights sang the “Regina Coeli”:
“Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
“For He Whom you deserved to bear in your womb, alleluia.
“Has risen, as He promised, alleluia.
“Pray for us to God, alleluia.
“Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
“For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.”
These souls who are in Paradise did much good while they were alive on Earth. When they were on the Earth, they scorned gold, but now they have the grace of God.
And here, beneath the Son of God and beneath Mary and among the saved souls who lived in Old Covenant times and the saved souls who lived in New Covenant times is a victorious and triumphant soul who holds glorious keys.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce
This is an excerpt from Dante’s Divine Comedy: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce, available here:
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