Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Reflections of Divine Unity
and Variety in the Sea
A talk at the Carmelite Congress in São Paulo, Brazil, November 1958 (*)
There is a conception of the Universe that regards God as its exemplary cause, as an infinitely beautiful Being reflected in a thousand ways in all the other beings He created, so that no being exists which in one way or another is not a reflection of the uncreated beauty of God. The divine Beauty is reflected above all in the hierarchical and harmonic ensemble of all these beings. In a certain sense, then, there is no better way to know the infinite and uncreated beauty of God than by examining the finite and created beauty of the Universe.
Let us consider, for example, the beauty of the sea.
One of the first elements of the sea's grandeur is its unity. The oceans of the Earth flow one into the other and form a mass of water that encompasses the entire globe. Among the most pleasant meditations we can make at any seashore, while filling our gaze with the liquid mass stretching before us to the horizon, is to recall that this expanse of water does not end there. Beyond the horizon are successive immensities that form a single great immensity that is the sea -- the sea that moves, rolls, and plays over the entire face of the Earth.
While the sea displays this splendid unity, yet how much variety we can observe there!
At one moment it is meek and serene, satisfying our soul's every desire for peace, tranquility, quiet. Then it moves with discretion and suavity, forming wavelets that play upon its surface, making us smile and relaxing our spirits with thoughts of the amenable and delightful realities of life. Finally, it shows itself majestic and ferocious, raising itself up in sublime movements, rushing violently against towering rocks, hurling unfathomable volumes of water up from its abysses.
At times the sea comes ashore swiftly and, so to speak, out of breath. At other its landward course is slow and lazy, its waves languidly expending themselves upon the beach. At still other times it appears so motionless, content, so to speak, at just seeing the land without touching it.
So clear is the sea at times that our eyes easily pierce its fluid depths. Then again it is dark, impenetrable, profound, and mysterious.
Sometimes it murmurs like a soothing caress, inviting us to rest. Or it may be but a sound in the background like the oft-heard conversation of an old friend. Then, a bit later, it speaks to us with the roar of a king desiring to impose his will upon all his subjects.
All of these diversities of the ocean would have no cohesion or enchantment for us had they not the foundation of a fixed, invariable, and imposing unity.
Unity and variety are thus manifest in a creature that is ever within reach of our gaze, a splendid image of the uncreated and spiritual beauty of God Our Lord.
Salvador - Bahia (Brazil)
(*) The text has been translated and adapted for publication without the revision’s author. – Ed. American TFP.