by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
As Dante Alighieri points out at the beginning of his Divina Comedia, a life lived without discernment can lead one astray to such a point that he finds himself in a dark wood, where the path to the light is no longer found, and a guide is needed.
Here is the Petrocci edition, of the original text of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto 1:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
2 mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
3 ché la diritta via era smarrita.
4 Ahi quanto a dir qual era è cosa dura
5 esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte
6 che nel pensier rinova la paura!
7 Tant’ è amara che poco è più morte;
8 ma per trattar del ben ch’i’ vi trovai,
9 dirò de l’altre cose ch’i’ v’ho scorte.
10 Io non so ben ridir com’ i’ v’intrai,
11 tant’ era pien di sonno a quel punto
12 che la verace via abbandonai.
Here is Longfellow’s English translation, for those who cannot read medieval Italian:
MIDWAY upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.
So bitter is it, death is little more;
But of the good to treat, which there I found,
Speak will I of the other things I saw there.
I cannot well repeat how there I entered,
So full was I of slumber at the moment
In which I had abandoned the true way.
I cite this, because, we are never too old to deepen our knowledge of Catholic Culture: Dante was a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, and he wrote about 100 years after Saint Francis.
If you would like to see the source of the above, click this image. I will continue my editorial below it:
But if we have not a Beatrice to guide us out, we can at least take a spiritual exam, to help us find the right path. And the best exam is this, to ask ourselves if we are serving Christ Jesus or the Antichrist to come?
So here is the exam:
- Who is a truth teller, God or men?
- Who are more trust-worthy, men who say “God” to the first question, or men who say “men”?
- Is reality such that I should believe that the world is growing hotter or colder, based on what men say, or what I see?
- Is health such that I should believe there is a plague, even if I do not see everyone dropping dead around me?
- Do I give men more power over me than God?
- Do I believe that if the national legislature says we are gods, who can make up what is right and wrong, that we become gods?
- Do I believe that I can do anything with my body, I like?
- Would I, or do I, live each day the same, whether there is a God or not?
- Do I pursue the promises of Christ with great zeal than any other personal goal or interest?
- Do I think that I shall not be judged for each of my daily actions or choices?
- Which always has more authority, Christ or science?
- Which always has more authority, the State or the Church?