Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
On Pilgrimage Within a Gaze...
Folha de S. Paulo, November 12, 1976 (*)
I do not know a countenance equal to this one. Moved by an inveterate habit of observing everything, I contemplate it so that I may later understand it. As I fix my eyes upon that countenance, I suddenly perceive that I am entering it.
Yes, its unique expression emanates from the face and especially the eyes. Enveloped in the ambience it creates, I feel invited to enter deep into her gaze.
What a gaze! None other is so calm, frank, pure, or welcoming. In none other can one penetrate with such ease. None other holds such unfathomable depth or grand horizons. The more one penetrates this gaze, the more one is attracted toward an indescribable interior and sublime summit.
What summit? A state of soul I would be tempted to describe as full of paradoxes if the word “paradox,” were not so misused today and thus appear disrespectful.
The Scholastics say every perfection results from the balance of harmonious opposites. Thus I am not speaking about a precarious balance between flagrant contradictions whereby our contemporary world seeks to maintain a poor stained and vacillating peace at the cost of so many shameful concessions. No, this is a supreme harmony of all forms of good.
In the depth of this gaze, I see arise precisely a peak where all perfections meet. It is a peak incomparably higher than the columns that support the firmament. It is a peak where a crystalline, categorical and irresistible rule excludes every form of evil, however slight or small.
One could spend a whole lifetime within that gaze, without ever reaching the summit of that peak. It is not however a useless effort. Within that gaze one does not walk, but flies. One is not a tourist but a pilgrim.
Although the pilgrim can never reach the height of that sacred mountain, the sum of all created perfection, he sees it with ever increasing clarity the more he flies toward her.
While on this pilgrimage of the soul, the pilgrim flies toward a gaze that does not merely envelope but penetrates him. Closing his eyes, he perceives a light in the depths of his being.
The gaze is the soul of the countenance. It is an impressive countenance! The fool might consider it inexpressive. To a skilled observer, it is greater than History because it touches eternity; greater than the universe because it reflects the infinite.
The forehead appears to contain thoughts that, beginning with a crib and ending with a Cross, take in all of human events.
The lines of the entire face and nose possess a charm “more beautiful than beauty.” As a poet once wrote, these are silent lips that nevertheless say everything at every moment. They appear to praise God in the uniqueness of every creature, beseeching God to have pity on every pain and misery as if she had suffered from each one of them. These lips have an eloquence which reduces the orations of Demosthenes or Cicero to utter babble. What can be said of the skin other that it is snowy-white? This description says both everything and nothing. To describe it, one would need to imagine a snowiness that profoundly reflects with infinite discretion, all the shades of the rainbow, which would in turn inspire the soul that contemplated it with all the wonders of purity.
Yes, I went on pilgrimage within this gaze so filled with surprises. Yet, I unexpectedly feel that her gaze also went on pilgrimage inside me. Hers was a poor and merciful pilgrimage, not from splendor to splendor, but from need to need, from misery to misery. If only I open myself to her, she will offer me a remedy for my shortcomings, help against every obstacle and hope for every affliction.
Miraculous Pilgrim Statue of Fatima
This statue is a wooden statue without any special artistic value like so many others. And yet, one only has to fix one’s eyes on this statue to see that, without moving or the least physical transformation, it becomes brilliant with all these splendors. I do not know how this happens. However, if the reader wishes, let him look and see…
I insist. If you believe in the description that I have made, I invite you in turn to make this magnificent pilgrimage within the gazes of the Virgin. If you do not believe, look and see. I could not offer a better invitation…
I pray to her for thee. I pray for the Holy Church troubled and tormented as never before.
(*) The preceding article has been translated and adapted without author’s revision. – Ed. American TFP.