Paradiso, Canto I

“…but thou hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight.” (Wis 11:20)

 

The glory of him who moves all things race fourth through all the universe and is reflected from each thing in proportion to its worth.

 

We see that the order of things is reversed when we come from God’s point of view. I, recognizing the good or perceived good in some thing, love that thing. But for God, it is quite the opposite. He does not recognize the good in some thing and therefore love it, but rather, loves it, and thereby it is good, thereby it exists. It is the same with truth, for it is up to us to recognize truth, but this truth is not something separately recognized by God but rather is one with Him.

 

What much is granted to our senses there in the garden made to be man’s proper place that is not granted us when we are here.

 

Dante merely states here that in the beatific vision we are granted to see what we naturally desire but cannot attain without grace. “O, happy fault.”

 

“The elements of all things” she began “whatever their mode observe and enter order it is this form that makes the universe resemble God in this the higher creature see the hand of the internal work which is the goal to which these norms conduce, being so planned.”

 

Of all created and visible things, that is (as far as we know), all creatures besides angels, man is the highest. He stands, in fact, on the border between the purely spiritual and the merely material. Man is a microcosm, and the macrocosm was made for man. The world has order built into it, as does human nature. The world, when contemplated, points man towards his goal. It shows us something of its Maker, and only in its Maker are we to find eternal joy.

 

It is true that often times the form of a thing does not respond to the intent of the art… just so the creature sometimes travels wide of this true course…and it’s first impulse maybe twisted earthward by a false desire.

 

All this means is that things, being contingent as they are, are always apt to tend towards non-being. They may not do as they should, but this is a failure of their nature, and not their nature itself. In man, much is due to the fall, by which we lost supernatural grace and preternatural graces as well. But our nature is still, though fallen, that of a creature of God, and we need grace to right this nature so that it may be what it was created to be.

 

“You should not as I see it marvel more at your ascent than the river’s fall from a high mountain to the valley floor.”

 

When our nature is set aright, by grace, we should no more marvel at its attainment of its original purpose than we marvel at seeing all other natural things do just as they ought. Water falls, because by nature it is pulled toward the earth. Man rises to the contemplation of God, for that is why he was created.

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