chapter  3
Poetry at the reshold of Prayer
ByAntonio Spadaro SJ
Pages 10

This chapter explores the relationship between prayer and poetry as each in its way an expression of the soul's sincere desire that we turn to one of the greatest Christian-theological voices in our tradition, to the Dante of the Divina Commedia. When it comes to prayer and prayerfulness in the Commedia, there are two main moments to consider: the moment represented by the Lord's Prayer as spoken by the penitent spirits on the circle of pride in Canto XI of the Purgatorio and that represented by the great prayer of supplication on the threshold of Paradiso XXXIII and preparatory to a final, consummate moment of intellection. Paul Tillich, who understood very well what is going on in Dante, spoke of the Commedia as entering the 'deepest as well as the highest places of courage and salvation' and as offering 'in poetic symbols an all-embracing existential doctrine of man'.