Our Suffering, Our Solace by Anthony Esolen

Our Suffering, Our Solace

Dante's Way of Boundless Love

This year marks the seventh centenary of the death, in 1321, of the poet Dante Alighieri, who completed the final canticle of his Commedia shortly before he died. It has since been a commonplace, in certain Catholic circles, to say that the hereafter is not as Dante imagined it, as if the poet ever meant to give us a photographic tour rather than the greatest epic of love ever written—of love betrayed, love revived and heartened, and love fulfilled. We have much to learn from him, especially, I think, in his treatment of that realm whose very existence many Christians doubt, while not necessarily doubting its purpose or its action.

I speak of Purgatory. We say that human beings should love—but we hardly know how; our hearts beat feebly, and the sinews of our souls are not used to exercise. Purgatory, as Dante sees it, is where, or we might say how, souls learn to suffer, and thus to love.

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more on literature from the online archives

24.1—January/February 2011

Secular Grendel

Ruminations on the Monstrous Envy of the Soul-Devouring State by Anthony Esolen

20.6—July/August 2007

The Anglo-Saxon Evangel

The Beowulf Poet Was a Shrewd Christian Apologist by Douglas Wilson

35.6—Nov/Dec 2022

To Is or Not To Is

on E-Prime by J. Douglas Johnson


more from the online archives

27.2—March/April 2014

The Rights of Aphrodite

on C. S. Lewis & the New State Paganism by W. E. Knickerbocker

34.1—January/February 2021

Jeremiah Revisited

Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents by Rod Dreher by Hans Boersma

33.3—May/June 2020

Maternity as Theophany

Maternal Body: A Theology of Incarnation from the Christian East by Carrie Frederick Frost
Fertile Ground: A Pilgrimage Through Pregnancy by Laura S. Jansson by Agnes R. Howard

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00