Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
No Great Work in the Church Has Existed Without Being Harshly Fought
Instructions and Prayers
for Apostolate Visits
Saint of the Day, Saturday, October 23, 1971
Our Lady of Good Counsel of Genazzano (Italy)
As you will remember, I had shown how every work truly united with the spirit of the Church, with Our Lady and Our Lord Jesus Christ meets opposition and ends sooner or later, prompting persecution. You do not find a single great work in the Church that has existed or developed without being harshly fought, sometimes by external persecution from Church enemies, sometimes by internal persecution.
Through intrigues, doctrinal distortions, etc., the devil or his agents often turn the arm of ecclesiastical authority against those who want to do good within the Church. It is one aspect of the mystery of iniquity. Naturally, those persecuted by the Church itself bear the greatest suffering.
To be persecuted by a communist authority is extremely unpleasant, but it is nothing compared to being persecuted by a progressive bishop. Because the fight with those of the same blood as us makes us suffer more. All the more so by those who share the same blood of Christ, those who belong to the Holy Roman and Apostolic Catholic Church.
Our Lord spells out well the reason for this struggle when He describes the Last Judgment. He shows that there is a resurrection of bodies, and then all men are judged in one another’s presence. As you well know, the Faith teaches us that man is subject to the particular Judgment as soon as he dies. But only the one man is present at this Judgment, and no one else. The Last Judgment is a public judgment in which God not only confirms His definitive verdict regarding each man when he died but does justice in the presence of the good and the bad; God glorifies the good and humiliates the bad.
This is understood more or less from the following perspective: Take a father who has five children. Three fight against two, and a fistfight ensues among them. The father investigates and sees that two have defended an upright position, and the other three were wrong. The father not only calls each one and punishes him but will do well if he later gathers everyone and says:
“As you all gather here, I want to say before you all what Judgment must be made. You, you, and you did poorly. And you and you did well.”
In other words, justice requires that once some have been wrongly offended by others, the offended be glorified in the eyes of the offenders, and the offenders be humiliated in the eyes of the offended. Therefore, a particular Judgment does not suffice to meet full justice, but a general Judgment is in order.
So, at the Last Judgment, God will gather the myriads of men who ever lived and divide them into two categories: those who will be on His right and those on His left. Then He will proclaim the victory of those on the right, who behaved well, and will glorify them. He says that on the side of those who went astray, there will be a roar, saying, “We thought their life was madness, that all that they did was madness. And behold, now we see that glory is on their side.” This is not an act of justice on the part of the bad, because they are already lost, already damned, and incapable of any act of justice. It is an act of hatred, revolt, complete but useless anger, as are the wraths of the devil. They will thus manifest the reason for their anger at the good. The reason is that the good had a mentality, a style, a way of life they saw as crazy, and that is why they hated and persecuted the good. Hence they revolt seeing that the good are the ones rewarded by God.
That anger of the bad toward the good already happens during this life, and its corollary is that every now and then, the bad people network and attack the good.
A particular work can be rich, have many members and a lot of influence, but ceases to be what it is from the moment it is no longer fought. It becomes a corpse
For this reason, the sign that a Catholic work is dying is not when the number of members decreases, when it loses money, is ostracized, and no one speaks about it, or when others heavily fight it. None of this means that work is doing poorly. A work goes bad when it is no longer fought. Here is the sure sign of decay. It may be rich, have many members and a lot of influence, or what have you. Once it is no longer fought against, it has ceased to be what it is. Then it becomes a corpse that decomposes.
You see this with all Religious Orders. In their heyday, they are fought. In their period of decay, they are not. This hatred is a mystery but even takes place toward men whom God has called to a type of activity that we would say it is not possible for someone to hate.
For example, it is infamous and iniquitous but understandable for someone to hate the activity of the TFP. I can understand, for example, that a divorcee eager to leave his wife would be angry at a TFP campaign against divorce. His anger is an injustice but an understandable injustice.
I can understand that a person who wants to own someone else’s land would be indignant, seeing the TFP is against Land Reform, as an individual with bad intention becomes angry at someone blocking his path.
But a Don Bosco? Don Bosco educated poor children. Who could be angry at that? He published anti-Protestant propaganda leaflets because there was a certain Protestant infiltration in a part of northern Italy, but they were purely doctrinal tracts that did not fight anyone. But the hatred against the good is such that Don Bosco sustained if I’m not mistaken, several assassination attempts from anonymous people who hated him and wanted to kill him. Yet his vocation was not to fight or to arouse hatred. On the contrary, he was a smiling, affable saint with a very special vocation, brilliant and radiant in that Salesian sweetness. But here, you can see that the bad would hate the good even if the latter did not attack them.
In other words, this is part of them. Cain hates Abel, and that is the end of it.
By all indications, Saint Pius X was poisoned to death. I do not know that the days of Paul VI are at risk, if only because those unhappy with him are the last men on earth who would think of having hi killed. Those who might think of doing so are happy with him. As a result, his life is not at risk.
Pius IX was a fighting Pope, a tremendous, formidable, admirable Pope. His beatification process is now underway; the canonization process has not started. The process of Leo XIII, who was the pope of the great conciliations, is on.
The first element of courage in the storm is trust in Our Lady. Every trial that assails a truly Catholic work exists insofar as Our Lady allows
The corollary is that those who follow a Cause entirely faithful to the Church must find it normal that they should be combatted. They must think it is normal, from time to time, that great storms should arise against them. They must know how to act in these storms. They must behave as any good sailor and know how to avoid the storm. For if a sailor can go around the storm, he would be stupid to want to get inside it. Therefore, he must know how to avoid all episodes that can lead to a useless fight. He must not provoke or create trouble on occasions when prudence dictates otherwise. But if the storm surrounds him, he must know how to weather the storm. Then he must be great in courage as he once was great in prudence.
In the storm, the first element of courage is confidence in Our Lady, realizing that every storm or every trial that assails a truly Catholic work exists insofar as Our Lady permits. No matter how great their strength or importance, everything stops the moment Our Lady moves her finger. So the first thing we should do amid a storm is to pray and understand that the storm will end the moment our prayers have appeased heaven. No matter how powerful our enemies are, they really are a quantité negligeable, as the French call it, a quantity that can be neglected. Because Our Lady is in charge and She stops everything.
You have the famous parable of Our Lord sleeping in the boat and waking up. He wakes up and tells the storm to subside. It is over. Everyone comments: “venti et mare obediunt Eum” – “the winds and seas obey Him,” and, therefore, the first thing is for us to ask Our Lady to ward off avoidable storms and abbreviate those that are not avoidable. And may She gives the grace to bear those that are neither avoidable nor abbreviated, but Catholics will ultimately weather the storm. A Catholic does not give up or defect during a storm.
St. Luiz Grignion de Montfort develops this thought about the associations of devotion to Our Lady that he founded. In them, people consecrated themselves as slaves to Our Lady and as true friends of the Cross. He said that these people had to suffer tremendous persecution and would have to face those persecutions.
If we, devotees and slaves of Our Lady, have in Her the trust we should have, we will grow, multiply and fill the entire earth
Last week, I gave some considerations in this regard by St. Louis Grignion de Montfort and will give the rest of the text today. I will then delve into the background to comment on what is left.
After showing all the rewards that await a person who is persecuted for the love of Our Lord, he says:
“These are, dear little battalions of Mary (battalion in the spiritual sense, of course), the wonderful promises that God makes to us through the prophet’s mouth if you place all your trust in Him through Mary. Being as you are, people who give themselves completely to Providence, that is, to God, to sustain and multiply you and to tell you: grow and multiply and fill the earth, do not be afraid because of your small number. It is up to God to defend you. Do not fear your adversaries. It is up to God to nurture you, clothe you, entertain you. Therefore, do not be afraid of lacking what you need in these bad times, which are bad only because we have little confidence in God. It is up to your God to glorify you. Fear not that your glory may be stolen from you. In a word, fear nothing and sleep safely on your paternal breast.”
These very beautiful words contain a brilliant application of the command Our Lord gave to Adam and Eve: “Grow and multiply, and fill the whole earth.”
He says: if the people who fight really put their trust in Our Lady, the promise made to Adam and Eve will be fulfilled in them. They, too, will grow and multiply and fill the entire earth.
That means that if we, devotees of Our Lady, slaves of Our Lady, have in Her the trust we must have, we will grow and multiply and fill the entire earth. In other words, if they have confidence in Our Lady, her slaves will occupy the entire earth. Above all, therefore, they must place their hope on her action.
Our Lady uses us in her work out of compassion and condescension, giving us an honor we do not deserve
My dear friends, this promise is very important to us. I have already mentioned to you that the normal thing for a country like Brazil would be for the TFP to have ten thousand members. Many of you will have said, “But my God, how can we have 10,000 members? It seems impossible.”
The condition for it is to confide that Our Lady will give these 10,000 members. But what is confidence? What does that word mean?
First of all, confidence means to keep in mind that this work to obtain more members–say we are 1,500 and need to bring another 8,500 slaves for Our Lady in Brazil—is above all a work of hers.
In other words, I, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, and each of you, together with me, are servants that Our Lady uses because she wanted. She could do it without anyone or with other people. She uses us out of compassion and condescension for us, giving us an honor we do not deserve.
The great Saint Paul said of himself that we are useless servants. God deigns to use us for this work but could do without us. So we must first understand that we need to move God Our Lord through the prayers of Mary for Him to deign to desire it. So to speak, God wants to be set in motion by our prayer. He recommended this many times: “Ask, and you shall receive, knock, and it will be opened to you.”
Our first and great battle is waged strictly on the supernatural plane
One needs have to be insistent. It is necessary to ask a lot, understanding that the first factor for me to win is for God to want me to win. And that the first factor for God to want me to win is that I pray for Him to want me to win. And that the first factor for me to pray that He wants me to win is protection by which Our Lady reminds me that I must pray to want God to win, to ask God that He deign to want to win.
Therefore, our first and great battle is waged strictly on the supernatural plane.
If we are united with God, that is, we have the spirit of the Church so that Our Lord can say: “Your thoughts are Mine, and your ways are Mine,” then, so to speak, we kindle others with our enthusiasm, our warmth, and win.
But we must understand that, while God’s victory happens through us, we are nothing. For God, we are less than an electric lamp for lighting a room. What is a light bulb worth without electricity? Nothing. It may be the most powerful and most extraordinary lamp ever made, but if an electrical current does not travel through the tungsten, the lamp is worthless.
The light from the lamp does not come from the glow of the tungsten itself. The tungsten that makes up the filament of the lamp is nothing. It is a dull, vile metal. What matters is a force that circulates through it, which does not come it, and shines in it. To give you an idea, we are a bit like God’s tungsten. To the degree that grace (electricity) enters us, we are light bulbs; then we shine.
What would you say about tungsten, this silly globe there, this milky globe? If he could think, he would be overjoyed: “See how luminous I am.” The glass in the lamp would say to him, “Idiot, can’t you see the light is coming from me?” The tungsten would hear that and say, “Stupid, don’t you realize I’m the one who’s brilliant?” Electricity would cut its current and say, “Idiots, see what you’re worth without me! The room would go dark.”
The first thing is to understand Our Lady’s fundamental as the transmitter of graces and that our entire life is to place our confidence in Her
So is the TFP with its members, volunteers, Dr. Plinio, and everything else. If Our Lady cuts off the grace that circulates, there is no more Dr. Plinio, National Council, members, or volunteers. Everything goes dark.
So, the first thing we must have is confidence in Our Lady, understanding her fundamental role as a transmitter of the graces that come from Our Lord Jesus Christ, and that our whole life is, above all, placing our trust in Her.
If we keep this in mind, it will be possible to reach ten thousand. But we need to keep this in mind at the time of both our successes and failures. At the time of our accomplishments, so that we do not become vain: “Did you see the lecture I gave? That excerpt was well found. Even someone who usually sleeps opened a halfeye to see me.” The mega triumphs.
What is that worth? Nothing. If the lecture did any good, it was because Our Lady deigned to send grace, that is, “electricity” through that filament. Other than that, it is worthless.
At the time of failure, we need to ask ourselves: “Why did this thing go wrong? Did I pray well? Was I well aware that the success being achieved was mainly due to Her? Was I asking Her to help me? Was I making Her the true source of life that I was sustaining? Yes or no? If I was not, my failure should not surprise me because I was cutting off the electric light.” What is the worth of having attachments, wanting to command, to dominate, to be first, what good is that? Wanting to draw a genius plan, to give the perfect advice, what’s that worth?
If I mix that in the apostolate, it starts going down, down, and down. We shrink to 1300, 1200, 600, and then 3 or 4. And then, not even that many. That is the sad evolution of those who do not place their trust in Our Lady. So this is the first thing to do.
Our Lady will make Her plans for me come true no matter what direction my apostolate takes or however great the defeats I may suffer
The second thing is more subtle and delicate but necessary. It is confidence in another sense. If I want to behave well and pray to be a faithful apostle, Our Lady will make the plans She had for me come true.no matter what direction my apostolate takes or how great the defeats I may suffer,
A true apostle or saint never fails. He may seem to fail but in reality, does not.
Here is a very beautiful observation about the life of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort. What was his work after all? That great saint was a little priest. He never held an important post. He never had a great influence on any truly decisive person in France. He always lived on alms, treated like a rogue priest. He was very popular and yet got pushed around. Only once did he complain when, in a Jesuit convent, they gave him some food but treated him so badly that he said, “I never thought it was possible to treat a priest so badly in a priests’ house.” That was the only comment he made.
He organized pilgrimages, worked to set up that famous Calvary, which Louis XIV ordered to be destroyed. Almost all the bishops of France forbade him to speak in their dioceses. He could only preach in two dioceses. He wanted to found a Company of Mary, and the Company of Mary failed. When he died, he had in his hands something that was both everything and nothing. He had a huge number of peasants to whom he had preached devotion to Our Lady, but they were sparse, uninfluential, and disorganized. He died, seemingly defeated.
Yet, he was the real architect of the Vendée wars. If the Vendée rose up against the crimes of the French Revolution, it is because that it was the region of France that retained the most religious fervor, thanks to his preaching. And the history of France and the history of the world would have been different if the Vendée war had not taken place.
A man who does apostolate can be defeated and even resoundingly, but deep down, he wins
So what is the upshot? In reality, he had a spectacular victory. Here you see what life is like for a man who does apostolate. He can be defeated and even stingingly. In reality, he wins.
Look at St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She says that, on the eve of dying, she heard someone talking in the kitchen, which was close to her room. Some nuns were saying, “Our sister Therese of the Infant Jesus is in very bad shape and will die shortly. I would like to know what our superiors will tell about her in the convent chronicle. Nothing, she has not done anything.”
Indeed, Mother Marie de Gonzague had done much more. She had “painted the town.” She could fill the chronicles simply with her cat’s story, which would be fit to tell, not to mention her worldliness, attachment to family and all else. St. Therese had done nothing...but as soon as she died, there started what we could call her great reconquest.
As you know, in the last minute of her life, she had an ecstasy, sat up all transfigured with joy, and dropped dead. When she died, a scent of violets – a small flower with an intense perfume – invaded the entire convent. As funeral ceremonies began, so did healings and miracles. Then St. Therese’s glorification began with all her spiritual work within the Church. She was seemingly defeated but victorious.
Sometimes the voice of heaven is felt by imponderables that tell us: “You were not raised to be crushed on this earth; you were raised to win on this earth.”
When you look at the lives of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort and St. Therese the Little Flower, you see that they died without regret. They died certain of fulfilling what God wanted of them, trusting to the end. These are the two confidences that we must have.
Yet this confidence, my dear friends, has a more delicate hue. Sometimes, in certain souls, Providence speaks through imponderables. Heaven’s voice makes itself felt by imponderables. And these imponderables tell us, “You were not raised to be crushed on this earth; you were raised to win on this earth. And at the height of the fight, you must not only offer this fight for the atonement of sins but must confide that you will win. You will not be faithful if you doubt because this is your special mission.”
So one must know how to listen to that inner voice of grace and trust against all odds. We should say: God wanted others to accept defeat. I would gladly take it if that was my share, but God wants something else from me: that I trust in victory despite all appearances of defeat. Even in the worst situations, I should say, “I will win, and I will return.” If you so trust in the worst situations, we will win and make a comeback in this life with ever greater strength and glory.
As far as the TFP is concerned, the most dangerous thing for our adversaries is to try to crush us. Because whenever they have done that, they have been successful, but soon afterward, they come out this [tiny] size, and the TFP comes out multiplied by itself.
Saint of the Day’s Outline
I Quick recall of the previous Saint of the Day:
1) Our Lord predicted that all those truly good will be persecuted by the bad;
2) He explained the cause of persecution: the conflict of mentalities. Through their own fault, the bad ones do not understand and hate us;
3) Therefore, these fights are inevitable;
4) Confidence is one of the conditions for these struggles. Whoever trusts in Our Lady wins. Whoever does not trust is defeated.
II – What is confidence, then? Why is it a so precious and important condition for victory?
1) Trust is the conviction born of Faith, that with the help of Our Lady, Mediatrix of all graces, we will succeed in the apostolate;
2) What is the foundation of this persuasion:
a) The certainty that every success in the apostolate does not and cannot come from human talent unaccompanied by grace. It comes from the grace and the help of Providence by removing obstacles, creating favorable circumstances, etc.;
b) While every comparison is imperfect, one may say that man is to the apostolate as tungsten to lightning. Tungsten is just one element in which electrical energy circulates, and when that happens, it lights up. Therefore, the light we radiate does not come from us. It is supernatural and comes from God;
c) The more convinced we are of this, the more we will make achievements. The less we are persuaded, the more sterile we are. This would then be a meaning of the word confidence. Let us now move on to another.
3) Confidence has yet another meaning. That persuasion has yet another foundation: the life of a man truly united with God is never sterile. A man truly united to God always wins.
Examples: St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, a precursor of the Counter-Revolution, and St. Therese of the Child Jesus.
Victory always belongs to the man united with God. Therefore, always trust.
4) Some must have an additional degree of confidence. An inward movement of grace tells them that they must carry out the work they are charged with. But they must carry it out in their lives. So they need to believe in this inner movement of the soul, discern it, and recognize it. These are the three modalities of trust.
The conclusion is given by St. Louis Grignion de Montfort himself:
Our Lady’s slaves will be able to win. What God says to Adam and Eve spiritually applies to them: “Grow and multiply, and fill the whole earth.”
For starters, this word means that if we ask for this confidence and pray a lot for the success of our apostolate, we can reach the ten thousand mark. These are the two factors to give us confidence.
When visiting an apostolando, what should we ask Our Lady?
If you agree, I will answer already in the form of prayer on the condition that you do not treat it as a prayer amulet. It is meant to be prayed.
I - “Oh my Lady and Mother (or any invocation of Our Lady that you like—Our Lady of Good Counsel, Help of Christians, the Immaculate Heart of Mary—I beg Thee to move my soul during this visit so that I only say, do and have the attitudes that Thou wantest. That I say and do whatever Thou wantest, and behave exactly as Thou wantest me to.”
This could be the prayer 1.
II - “Prepare souls to receive my visit in this way. Keep the demons away from them. Send the Angels and listen to the prayers of this place’s patron saints and of the people who are here.”
III - “Especially, O my Mother, act on those whom Thou most especially wantest to call into Thy family of souls so that they respond to Thy grace with firmness, promptness, and generosity.”
IV - “Above all, take away from me any selflove in the face of successes and defeats that I may sustain. Amen”.
Now, after the visit:
“My Holy Guardian Angel, my holy protectors, make me see the faults I have had. Make me deplore them and correct them.
“Obtain forgiveness for my shortcomings and free me from discouragement or frantic optimism.
“And Thee, o my Mother, give me Thy blessing, Thy forgiveness, Thine affection, Thy peace and Thine indomitable strength of soul so that I may work harder and Thy Reign may come unto us. Amen.”
(Could a person do a whole lot of work and fail?)
It may happen. A person may have a calling and obtain no success. And others may succeed because of this person’s acceptance of his failure. A person can also be called to have no success for a long time and then become enormously successful. The important thing is to understand that when a person is faithful but does not appear to have any success, he is like a rosebush where roses do not grow but do grow on the neighboring rosebush. Yet it, too, was a fertile rosebush. On Judgment Day, the rose bush, where many roses bloomed, will sometimes be amazed. What? Did those roses come from that withered and abandoned rosebush?
How many times the acceptance of failure is a more fruitful cause of success than a lot of actions!
Now, that does not dispense with taking action. Pray a lot, act a lot.