Dante in the Year of Mercy

Although Dante’s Comedy has been admired for 700 years, the modern world has felt a special urgency in recovering the vision Dorothy Sayers once called “the drama of the soul’s choice.” Indeed, Pope Francis invited the faithful to turn to the Comedy in the Year of Mercy “to rediscover the lost or obscured meaning of our human path,” calling its author “a prophet of hope.” In these three six-lecture courses, Dr. Jason Baxter explores the Comedy’s three books, opening up Dante’s poetic masterpiece as a practical guide to the spiritual life. Sign up HERE.

Inferno begins in the middle: the middle of life, the middle of a dark wood, the middle of a personal crisis, the middle of hopelessness. At the same time, it begins with a great yearning for God and the good, a yearning that can only be satisfied by the grace of God and by a journey through the depths of sin and Hell before it ascends to the stars.

Session Titles

1.Lover, Poet, Exile: An Introduction to Dante's "Comedy"
2.The Hero and the Coward in the Dark Wood, Canti 1-4
3.On Castles and Lovers, Canti 4-9
4.The Graveyard of the Heretics and the Wasteland of the Violent, Canti 10-17
5.Dante's White-Collar Criminals and Ulysses's Tongue of Fire, Canti 18-26
6.Icy Hearts and Frozen Souls: The Lowest Portion of Hell, Canti 27-34

In Purgatorio, the second of his three books, Dante the pilgrim ascends Mount Purgatory where men and women are transformed from sinners to saints who are able to reenter Eden and ascend to God. In these lectures, Dr. Baxter explains how Dante the poet lead his readers toward greater sanctification and a fuller spiritual life.

1.Fire and Healing: An Introduction to Medieval Purgatory
2.Waiting for God, the Broken Human Community, and the Surprise of Mercy, Canti 1-9
3.At the Center of the World: Love, Freedom, and Community, Canti 10-17
4.Materialism and Depression: How God Rewrites the Soul, Canti 18-24
5.Returning to Man's First Home: the Pilgrim in the Garden of Eden, Canti 25-28
6.As the Heavens are Higher than the Earth": Dante's Apocalyptic Vision, Canti 29-33

After reading Paradiso, C. S. Lewis wrote to a friend, “It reaches heights of poetry which you get nowhere else; an ether almost too fine to breathe.” Lewis was awed by Dante’s vision of Heaven and the good and rightly so. In a culture that rarely sees “the beauty of holiness,” that is starving for lack of a thick and glorious image of the good, Dante provides the help we need.

1."Great Fires Come from Tiny Sparks:” St. Paul and Orpheus Go to Heaven
2."In His Will Is Our Peace:" Heaven, Cosmic Order, and Tranquility
3.“Here Is One Who Will Increase Our Love!” Dante’s Love Lyric Goes to Heaven
4.Diversity, Unity, and the Greatest Gift from Heaven
5.Intellectual Fasting and the Test of Love
6.The Canti of Surprise: The Garden, the Book, and the Rose