Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Echo of Fidelity and the TFP Mission
Excerpts (slightly edited) from a closing speech at the 2nd SEFAC, Jan. 15, 1970
Imagine a city completely given over to disorder and chaos; a city immersed in a confusing and cacophonous noise; a city wallowing in blasphemy and immorality. Imagine, in the midst of this city, the bells of hundreds of churches asking God for either mercy or justice to put an end to so many abominations and save the souls now being lost. Imagine these bells, rung by faithful hands, trying to smother the blasphemous noise of the city. There’s a conflict between the sacral harmony of those bells and the spurious voices rising from the earth.
As this struggle wears on, the first fighters grow old and die, while others grow more and more tired as they keep ringing the bells, stricken with discouragement. Some are even seduced by the voices coming from the ground and finally stop ringing the bells. They come down from the sacred towers of fidelity to the swamps, to the streets filled with blasphemy and abandon their mission. Only a few bells are ringing now. But in the midst of the noise, those few still persevere and persevere by all means, in every possible way; persevere against all hope and persistently continue to ring the bells. And in the highest of heavens, Our Lady, queen of the universe, listens, judges and prays.
In her supplicant omnipotence, she watches every development, step by step, because she wants to make her glory known and felt by everyone at a certain moment. This is the moment when the last few bells are still ringing and their number is becoming so small that hardly anyone hears them amid the general confusion. This is the moment when Our Lady will intervene. Almost drowned out in the general clamor, the shouts of anguish produced by sin, and the cries of revolt rising from lust, egoism and pride -- amid this chaos, Our Lady endows these bells with a supernatural sound.
This sound then begins to echo in the city; here and there, one or another person is touched by it and says: “this cannot go on. This bell’s sending a different signal; it invites me to something different than this cacophony; I’ll lend my ear to this bell, I’ll look for it, place myself beside it and there I’ll find my way. Come, follow me!”
Amid the ruins, in the darkness of the catastrophe, small groups begin to gather and become acquainted with one another. They unite and begin to help one another and assemble on the side of town where the bells are still ringing. There they begin a re-conquest, a work that brings all disorder to an end. There they take up the sword of truth. There they take up the sword of the word, which Saint Paul says is so tremendous, admirable and efficient, that it works even greater wonders than that which can destroy the body. The word reaches that mysterious and profound region of the human soul where everything is governed, where history is decided; that region which Saint Paul calls the junction between soul and spirit. They begin to penetrate souls and to produce movements of indignation and protest against the bedlam, chaos and corruption; taking with them a whole crowd that, until then, was doing nothing.
Until this moment some slept, others wept, a few prayed but no one actually did anything. But now, united and organized, they begin to react! Our Lady has put together her first army. At this very moment evil attempts to stifle this army and stamp out the sound of those last few bells, but from the pinnacle of heaven Our Lady intervenes with her angels.
She scatters the evil ones and establishes her glory and when her glory begins and her kingdom starts to shine forth among men, a bell continues to ring on. It is the same bell that rung at the beginning of the reaction, whose timbre is the same in times of glory and peace. It is a most faithful echo of the previous voices. It is the bell of tradition, which, as the Reign of Mary dawns, rings out all the lessons of the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It not only prolongs the glories of the past, but also sets the tone of a most radiant and beautiful future.
Our Lady waits to intervene, when everything appears lost and when she wants everything to be saved. This is the very moment we are now witnessing. It cannot be explained in any other way but from a supernatural point of view. Dear friends, there’s no other explanation for the development of the ideals of Tradition, Family and Property in Latin America and throughout the world. We have a daily example of this through contacts with those who are close and those who are distant. From here and there, amid the chaos, we see people who begin to gather and fight and the impossible happens: auditoriums like this fill up with people whom the Revolution has been working to victimize for centuries.
How can we explain this fact without mentioning supernatural intervention? How to explain it without a special grace of Our Lady? Without the existence of a mission? In today’s chaotic world, in your cities, states and countries you will be like so many other bells of tradition ringing away. The galvanizing force of these appeals of Our Lady will make themselves felt around you in the circles you frequent. There’ll be no lack of attacks from the devil. The father of darkness will spread slander and hearsay against you.
But you are the bell towers that ring amid the darkness, cacophony and confusion, proclaiming the sound of Tradition from the Catholic past and take this sound forward to the dawn of the Reign of Mary.
Even if heaven had to open and angels come down visibly to defend your fidelity in this mission, God’s grace would not fail you! For this beautiful mission was given individually to each of you and even to the smallest and most tempted one among you; this mission that now knocks at the door of your souls to convince you and set you on fire.
Be faithful! Be valorous! Be faithful echoes of Tradition and you will return with joy, singing the victories that you won for Our Lady. As Psalm 125 says: “Euntes ibant et flebant, mittentes semina sua,” they walked in sadness, darkness and uncertainty, weeping, but sowing their seeds.
You now depart and your souls may weep. However, you are taking the seeds that you received in this conference; through God’s grace you will return with joy, bringing to the next one the instruments of your work, the lessons you received and the friends you invited.
A word about you has already been said. A word should now be said about me. My name has been mentioned so often. It has been the object of generous references so many times that I would be lacking justice if I failed to tell you something about myself. You’ve read my works, you’ve heard me speak several times, and you hear me now. You have never heard me say: “That I made up a doctrine; developed a thought; founded a school or did this or that.” All I’ve done in my life is to present, by a duty of justice and with exultant joy, enthusiasm, appreciation and gratitude, the doctrine of the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Because, if there is any good in me, it is merely a consequence of the fact that Our Lady gave me this grace, for which I cannot thank her enough, and I hope to spend all eternity next to her thanking her for the grace of being baptized a child of the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The doctrine that I expound is the doctrine of the Church. This exposition at times is arduous because the subject matter was drawn from some overlooked corners, where so many marvels of the Holy Church lie sleeping.
Indeed, this work to collect and present doctrine from those silent corners is similar to that of an archeologist. Read my books, listen to the recordings of my lectures -- you will never hear anything but this. You might say there’s a lot of observation of reality and great sagaciousness in the way the TFP sees things, and originality in the way the TFP solves problems. It’s true. But you will hear me repeat a hundred times that we owe, and I owe, all of this to the fact that we absorbed Catholic doctrine on numerous points concerning human life, which were embedded in formulas, lifestyles and embodied in traditions that have produced precisely that which we call the TFP style.
I am not, and have no intention of being, anything but a bell -- no, even less than a bell -- I am an echo of the great bell that is the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I want to prolong this echo, those teachings that are no longer being taught from so many pulpits and confessionals, not as a minister or master but as a faithful disciple filled with joy at the glory of being a disciple. We are precisely the echo that prolongs the voice of the bell amid the battle; the echo that carries that voice far off and makes it heard everywhere; a faithful echo. O sorrow! Even when the bell goes silent the echo continues to be faithful, even when the bell appears to toll in a crazy fashion seemingly betraying its vocation as a bell.
This is the fidelity of the echo that only dies when it stops to repeat that which I’ve heard from the Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Church. To whom do I owe this fidelity, which I hope Our Lady will grant me to the end of my days?
Allow me to confide something to you. Around 1920, there was a boy born to a Catholic family in São Paulo, Brazil. At a certain moment in his life, this boy went through a very difficult trial and he prayed before a statue of Our Lady Help of Christians.
One could say of that boy what Saint Augustine said of his own youth: “so small and already a sinner.” Yet, raising his eyes to the statue of Our Lady, this boy understood, without any vision, that she was the Mother of Mercy and with her, he would be able to work all things out. He acquired such a confidence in her that he never abandoned her for the rest of his days. She continuously smiled toward him and this boy took upon himself the duty to speak about her and serve her for as long as he lived. This boy owes her everything and at this moment renders to her a homage filled with veneration and gratitude. There’s nothing in him that is good that did not come from her, the Mediatrix of All Graces, because to her, we must attribute everything. You are now looking at that boy, who has just finished addressing you.
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