I received my copy of Ralph McInerny's final book, "Dante and the Blessed Virgin" and few days ago. I just finished it tonight and I must say it was a great read. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. Dr. McInerny takes you on a brief tour through Dante Alighieri's "La Divina Commedia", focusing on the figure of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which Dante brilliantly weaves throughout his classic work. Even those who have not read the Divine Comedy will find the book intriguing and a good read. It is not over technical, yet solid Thomistic principles are applied and taught throughout the book. The book falls nicely between the spiritual and theological realms, which means that not only will you gain book knowledge about the Catholic faith, but it also helps you to put that faith into action. The topics of faith, reason, grace and free choice are covered among many others. The primary focus of course is that you come to understand how brilliant and creative Dante was in weaving the Blessed Virgin throughout the Comedy. You also gain a better understanding of the Blessed Mother's role in salvation. Dante was no slouch as theologian, and the way in which he presented the Catholic faith in his work is quite astounding. There are many hidden gems in the Divine Comedy pertaining to the Blessed Mother, and Dr. McInerny helps to uncover and explain them. For instance the following passage from the Paradiso, 25.127-129 reads,
|127||Only those two lights that ascended wear|
|128||their double garment in this blessed cloister.|
|129||And carry this report back to your world.|
Who are the two lights, and what is their double garment? What dogma of the Catholic faith does this passage teach? Everyone passes on into eternity at some point. I am glad that Dr. McInerny was able to give us this little gem of a book before he passed on.