Wednesday, April 06, 2011

There's No Crying in Purgatory!

We haven't yet heard much about Virgil's thanatography, but in canto VII he tells us how he ended up cooling with the heels in purgatory:

"I am Virgil, and I am deprived of Heaven / for no fault other than my lack of faith." But he is nevertheless worthy of ascent to God, and was therefore directed to this mountain.

True, he failed to make the varsity squad, but was considered promising enough to make the JV, where he will be able to work on his fundamentals, hone his skills, and develop a two-way game.

Look, only a handful of players make it to the bigs, so you shouldn't feel bad. Almost anyone can play baseball, but only 750 or so make it all the way to the Show. If you're even considered big league material, that's pretty good.

So hang in there, kid. You'll get your shot. Just be ready when the call comes. It's all about preparation.

As it so happens, I'm coaching my son's little league team. The players are very little -- four to six years old -- so technically this is hell, not purgatory. We just played our last game until April 27, as the league has a spring break, dividing the season in half.

This is good for us, as it will provide our players an extra three weeks to work on the weakest part of their game, which is their age. That and their size. Thus, if we continue practicing during the spring break, and if we try real hard, there's a good chance that when the second half begins, our players will be three weeks older.

Anyway, it looks like Virgil played an error-free game, but lost anyway. His life was analogous to basketball in the days before the 24 second clock, whereby a team could theoretically take a 2-0 lead and then try to run out the clock:

Not for having -- but not having -- done, / I lost the sight that you desire, the Sun -- / that high Sun I was late in recognizing.

In other words, instead of playing to win, Virgil played to not lose.

Nice guys don't necessarily finish last, but they often finish in the middle of the pack, because they don't want to offend anyone. Some of the saints are pretty tough customers, all knees and elbows. Come into their lane, and you're likely to discover that sanctification is a contact sport. Crowd the plate, and you'll find yourself upended, in the dirt.

What do they call Pope Benedict? God's pitbull? In reality he is nothing of the sort, just a hard-nosed coach who expects the best of his players.

There is no crying and wailing in baseball or purgatory, only heavy sighs. But sighs matter, for these are sighs of longing for the sovereign Good -- for the bright Son to occasionally peek out from behind his clouds of glory.

Interestingly, Virgil reveals that purgatory is very much like the United States, where hard work pays off and one is free to rise to the level of one's abilities (or usefulness). But some people hate this arrangement, because liberty only reminds them of their failures. For them, liberty is a source of pain and humiliation, not a school of hope and self-improvement.

In societies where everybody believes they are equal, the inevitable superiority of a few makes the rest feel like failures.... Only a hierarchical structure is compassionate towards the mediocre and the meek (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).

Such souls would prefer to abolish Heaven and Hell than take the risk afforded by Life. Liberalism doesn't help the envious, but it does at least attack the target of envy, thus temporarily easing the pain. But in transforming opportunity to victimhood, life passes them by; or, they become passive subjects of Life, just floating down the path of least resistance.

But life hasn't treated them unjustly. Rather, it has worked just as it is supposed to, revealing them for who they are. "Social justice" is simply their new term for envy. Gravity takes care of the rest.

Sardello -- whom we met in yesterday's post -- tells us that in the United States of America -- I mean the diverse states Purgatory -- No fixed place has been assigned to us; / I'm free to range about and climb as far as I may go. Woo hoo!

Speaking of which, there is a Simpson's episode in which Mr. Burns is on his deathbed. He whispers to Smithers, "I only wish I'd spent more time at the office."

This is another sort of person, the one who displaces the spiritual adventure to a purely horizontal game of commerce and acquisition. They are all about the administration of business instead of the minstration of Isness.

A subtle point about Purgatory: in Hell there is no Light, whereas in Heaven there is only Light. But here there is a cyclicity and rhythm, i.e., nightanday. Or, one might say timelessness in Heaven; endless time in Hell; and productive time -- i.e., progress -- in Purgatory.

At night it is impossible to climb, not so much as an inch: It is the night itself that implicates your will. / Once darkness falls, one can indeed retreat / below and wander aimlessly about / the slopes, while the horizon has enclosed the day.

Why the separation of night and day? Let us count the whys! For one thing, man here is still of a "mixed substance." We are in Purgatory specifically to purge ourselves of our own darkness. As we do, our days grow longer and our nights shorter until we reach our summa vocation.

"It's called a 'business retreat' -- you know, like church for people who worship the almighty dollar."


I appreciate the gesture, but that's really not going to get you out of Hell any sooner, Andrew.

25 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

We are in Purgatory specifically to purge ourselves of our own darkness. As we do, our days grow longer and our nights shorter until we reach our summa vocation.

Oh, that makes sense! I hadn't even thought about the length of the day there.

4/06/2011 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

It kind of sounds like Earth is a symbol for Purgatory.

4/06/2011 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"This is good for us, as it will provide our players an extra three weeks to work on the weakest part of their game, which is their age. That and their size. Thus, if we continue practicing during the spring break, and if we try real hard, there's a good chance that when the second half begins, our players will be three weeks older."

ROFLOL (and trying to assure co-workers there's no need for alarm).

Sorry, been there twice. Lol.

"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.-- Aeschylus"

Who knew Aeschylus coached pee-wee too?

Ok, back to reading.

4/06/2011 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Great Post!TM

Maybe we covered this..but I don't remember. What's in this for Virgil?
Is he likewise drawn to Dante for a similar reason as say Dante is drawn to Beatrice? In ether worlds, because he can't help himself?

4/06/2011 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Wild horses couldn't keep Virgil away, is what I mean. Which, if true, says something about what guiding Dante may be actually costing Virgil. But perhaps Virgil doesn't care.

4/06/2011 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

!

I just saw the caption on that second picture. Good thing I wasn't drinking coffee just then...

4/06/2011 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I forget why Virgil is the psychopomp. Probably something having to do with Dante's belief that they are the two greatest poets ever....

4/06/2011 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

Is there any way we can get out of the rest of Purgatory early? Can't we just cut to "the Love which moves the sun and the other stars" and have done with it.

I mean that's the only canto after Satan gnawing on Judas that I like. The between is just filler. Please? Please?

4/06/2011 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I have to admit, the caption under #2 made me LOL. And I just remembered how I passed the time in my college art appreciation class -- putting captions under the paintings in the textbook....

4/06/2011 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger vanderleun said...

Virgil is not the psychopomp. Virgil is "The Keymaster!"

After all, does he not say in Canto 3 of the Inferno, "Many Shuvs and Zuuls will be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!"

4/06/2011 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(Just don't cross the streams)

4/06/2011 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"But some people hate this arrangement, because liberty only reminds them of their failures. For them, liberty is a source of pain and humiliation, not a school of hope and self-improvement."

I think I'll make a ringtone or wav file of that so I can play it o-o-ov-o-over and o-o-ov-o-over next time I hear someone prattling about how "Everybody yearns for liberty!"

4/06/2011 10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

No education, no yearning, no liberty.

(Education, of course, not to be confused with, or by, schooling.)

4/06/2011 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Bob - that sounds like the best way to get through an art appreciation class.

Gerard - Paraphrasing Petey, Purgatory takes time...

But if you're right, does that mean Beatrice is the Gatekeeper?

4/06/2011 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Vanderleun...like anyone...could even know that..

4/06/2011 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>They are all about the administration of business instead of the minstration of Isness<<

'course one must apply the Isness to the business if one is to reach the peak.

I've run across a coupla sociopaths in my time and the one thing they had in common was - no, not cannabalism! - they had no interest in developing whatever talents they may have had. Not saying they were lazy; they were unflagging in their efforts to manipulate others. But they had no interest in actually contributing to the commonweal.

4/06/2011 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I can hear Beatrice singing now, "I got a brand-new pair of rollerskates, you got a brand-new key."


More seriously, and as hard as it is to believe, most people would rather be secure than free.

As if security were possible.

4/06/2011 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

"Paraphrasing Petey, Purgatory takes time…"

Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

4/06/2011 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

I believe the expression is timelessness takes time.

4/06/2011 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Future leader comes in and says, "I like how your office smells."

"Oh yeah? What does it smell like?"

"Like God's sweat."

What an odd thing to say. Must be from the souls struggling up Mount P....

4/06/2011 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Petey - indeed, it just struck me that being in Purgatory is the time it takes to get to the timelessness. That, and I find Vanderleun's impatience amusing. Purgatory may not be as exciting as the Inferno, what without the burning and the farting and the rending of flesh, but it hasn't struck me as boring yet. Maybe that's just me, though.

***
On an unrelated note, FL says the most astounding things...

4/06/2011 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, Bob - I notice in Jesus of Nazareth the Papa keeps referencing this book, which sounds fairly intriguing. Ever heard of it elsewhere?

4/06/2011 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

No, I'd never heard of it. BTW, I just finished the second volume and it is superb -- even better than the first. Toward the end, the Pope says some things that are reminiscent of Aurobindo, eg, "the Resurrection is something of a radical 'evolutionary leap,' in which a new dimension of life emerges, a new dimension of human existence. Indeed, matter itself is remolded into a new type of reality." This is precisely how I would express it -- as the "fourth bang" after existence, life, and mind.

4/07/2011 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm not very far yet into the first, but you're right. Not only is his understanding profound, his ability to communicate that understanding is excellent. I have to keep reminding myself that this is written by The Pope, because it doesn't come across as Catholic so much as, well, catholic.

4/07/2011 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

The Pope is allowed to write books??

4/07/2011 01:04:00 PM  

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