On a Montfortian Pilgrimage: How to Discern Revolution in Daily Life

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Saint of the Day,  June 8, 1971


“A Roman and Apostolic Catholic, the author of this text submits himself with filial devotion to the traditional teaching of Holy Church. However, if by an oversight anything is found in it at variance with that teaching, he immediately and categorically rejects it.”

 The words “Revolution” and “Counter-Revolution” are employed here in the sense given to them by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution, the first edition of which was published in the monthly Catolicismo, Nº 100, April 1959.


Today we will speak about how the liberal spirit and that of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort are formed and are different from one another.

You remember that we spoke about liberalism and the Catholic spirit. I was able to show you that one is born from man’s selfless tendency toward God and the other from a tendency toward self, self-love.

Man feels this selfless tendency toward God when he sees that which shows him the external order of the universe, the whole into which he must fit and to which he must subject himself. When applying his reason to this observation of the universe and aided by Revelation, man comes to know the Holy Catholic Church and its apex, Our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

Liberalism is precisely the opposite of this way of being selfless. When liberal, man turns exclusively to his own advantages, entertainment and comfort and this behavior helps develop a different attitude. These two attitudes or tendencies are fundamentally radical and categorical. A person who has the liberal principle in his soul will tend toward anarchy.

The Catholic spirit is an invitation to holiness, that is, to the complete renunciation of self, so as to fit as perfectly as possible into this order created by God. The reason for this is to do the will of God and to know and love Him. In other words, Catholicism and liberalism are two opposite poles, and the Catholic spirit makes the most radical invitation: that is to have a perfect, complete and entire sanctity. For this end, we all are called to a greater or lesser degree of sanctity because we are not equal in the supernatural or natural order.

Now then, radicality is the fitting attribute of the great theoreticians of Catholic and liberal doctrine. They employ meaningful, striking and very radical words that take one to the ultimate consequences. It is in this sense that we understand the moderate spirit. It is the spirit of one who has a kind of inhibition to attain the final consequences of that which he believes in. This creates a stigma of mediocrity and inferiority in a soul. The spirit unwilling to arrive to the ultimate consequences of what he thinks or believes in, is a spirit that is defined by mediocrity.

In view of this, just what is a liberal Catholic? A liberal Catholic is an individual dilacerated by two radicalities that are mutually exclusive of one another. One is Catholic radicality, which is the invitation to sanctity; the other is liberal radicality, which is an invitation to the complete worship of self.

These two invitations coexist in man. However in a liberal Catholic, they coexist in the following way: The liberal Catholic is a Pharisee; he does not want to say “no” to God’s invitation but above all he does not want to say “yes.” He does not want to say, “my God, I will not sanctify myself, I want to break with Thee, I want to leave the Catholic Church; my God, I no longer want to believe in Thee.”

He does not say this formally because he is afraid of God. He still has some attraction toward the things of God, but he hypocritically closes his eyes. He slowly begins to make ever-greater veiled concessions to the liberal side of his soul and this is hypocritical because he is lying to himself.

What exactly is this lie? It is a non-radical interpretation of Catholic doctrine in which one does not attain the ultimate consequences of Catholic doctrine. I was told that you perceive when a tree is ageing because its extremities gradually begin to dry up and lose their life.

The leaves and fruits, which spring forth closest to the trunk, have more vitality and those that sprout farther away from the trunk, toward the tips of the branches, have less vitality. This indicates that the tree is in a process of sclerosis, so to speak. The vitality of the tree no longer reaches its extremities because the vital impulse is insufficient to feed the whole tree.

I do not understand botany, but let’s imagine that this is true. This metaphor would be entirely fitting to describe the state of soul of a liberal Catholic. A Catholic corroded by liberalism fails to go to the ultimate consequences on any given point of Catholic doctrine. He tends to make light of everything. For example, when speaking about hell, he will say: “Well, many people wind up there, but after all, those whom I know personally will probably not go there. Why not? Because they have their qualities.”  When you tell him: “But hell is full of people who had qualities!” He becomes resentful.

Here you have another aspect of the liberal Catholic in that he is eminently sensitive. Hhe doesn’t argue, he whines, and then he attacks and turns vengeful. Suppose you tell him something about purgatory, that in purgatory souls suffer a lot. He’ll respond, “true, but Our Lady’s mercy is so great that one does not know if souls really spend a lot of time there.” So he ends up justifying that there is no more purgatory because if there is a purgatory and the soul does not really burn, it’s a useless fire, it’s just a little toy for God to play with.

All right, then we tell him about dogma. He who does not accept a dogma is a heretic. “Well, it is true, but dogmas must have an extremely strict interpretation for the person to fall into heresy.” You see how he always minimalizes or restricts things so as to avoid their ultimate consequences and the fullest and richest interpretation of doctrine; it is a continuous emptying of doctrinal substance. It is the utter avoidance of any radical interpretation of doctrine so as to avoid any radical consequence.

Now, this attitude of soul is also progressivist, and it has three aspects:

  1. It is hypocritical because it is veiled, in bad faith, and he is lying to himself.
  2. Catholic liberalism is aggressive in in its resentment or vengeance
  3. Catholic liberalism is processive. In other words, no one stops at simply being a liberal Catholic.

Unlikely as it might seem, it is like leprosy that gradually enters ones soul. If the person leads a long life as a liberal Catholic, in the end he will barely have any faith at all. He spent his life lying to himself, pretending he had faith. These are the characteristics of Catholic liberalism. Just what is Catholic liberalism in succinct terms? It is not Catholic; it is liberalism with a Catholic mask.

Catholic liberalism is like a kind of comedy. Let us imagine that in England they are staging a skit in which an actress would play the role of the Queen, and I say: There are two queens in England, Queen Elizabeth II and the queen in the theater. The queen in the theater is not a queen at all; she only plays the part of a queen.

A liberal Catholic, being liberal, is purely and simply not Catholic. Within him, his liberal side is anti-Catholic. Who is a liberal Catholic? He is a man who, in the more dynamic and active parts of his being is tending toward apostasy or has already apostatized. This is a liberal Catholic. He is only Catholic in the parts of his being which are already dead or moribund.

Now then, how does a caravan member observe these principles while traveling? A person on a caravan travels a lot and sees a lot. He is at the same time an itinerant hermit who spends a lot of time in silence, prays a lot and thus has all the elements to reflect well. We should ask what one should reflect on?

It is proper for a person who wants to have the spirit of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort to not just learn doctrine, but practice it. In other words, to turn the caravan into a Montfortian pilgrimage, I would say–true pilgrimage in search of orthodoxy.

How do you look for orthodoxy during the trip? We need to look everywhere for what is revolutionary, to analyze it, to see how it contrasts with the Church and to detest it. We also need to see what is Counter-Revolutionary such as traditions and ways of being that you come across in order to analyze and love them.

An example could be a public square in a country town that we see while on a caravan. It is a traditional town with a Constantinian-style church right at its center. The homes are gathered around the church like a family around its mother. When you enter you perceive a certain silence, a sense of isolation, you feel a palpable contrast with large cities, and you should analyze all of these things. How has it pleased my Catholic sense? In what did it do me good? I will love this good that I have analyzed here.

All of a sudden, you hear a radio blaring from some low level snack bar that is so common in the interior of Brazil. That horror is concentrated in a snack bar next to a bus stop that is simply dreadful to endure. It’s a mixture between the most retarded backwardness and the most insolent progress that forms an utterly unbearable juxtaposition of the two.

The snack bar is illuminated with a ugly, cold, neon light and illuminates a filthy glass showcase with some salami, greasy donuts and something else that might have been food. Couple this with a radio blaring away some grating rock and roll in an ambience fit for a hillbilly. When you walk in you are greeted by an imitation granite countertop from that is 40 years old, embedded in grease and oils from various historical eras that have become one with it.

On the main wall, a huge, filthy rough mirror reflects irregular, zigzagging images before your eyes and multiplies the ambience’s hideousness by reflecting the neon light everywhere. Crudely posted on the mirror, a note: “Eat our delicious bean stew” along with the price. The price already indicates that the dish is unbearable. They are the remnants of the week’s leftovers mixed with beans. If this is not enough to entice you to stay for a bite to eat, the radio blares its cacophony to the point you feel your car tremble from the sheer volume.

From the way you laugh I think this picture accurately describes what we commonly find while on caravan. This picture I just painted is something that shocks me from all angles, not primarily from the perspective of gluttony but from the one of disorder. For in that greasy world you don’t serve any food whatsoever. That glass showcase must be disinfected; you can’t let it gather all that grime. It is in the order of things that a filthy countertop should simply be changed from time to time and should never be allowed to get that dirty, and the purpose of a mirror is to reflect things, not distort people’s faces.

The ambience described here is in disorder, a disorder that is not only material but also moral. It reveals a connaturality with whoever is running the place. Have no illusions, immorality loves to dwell in those ambiences. To top it off, as a bus leave the nearby bus stop, filthy diesel smoke fills the snack bar, and everyone loves it. Someone enters smoking one of those hand-made black tobacco cigarettes, and the smoke dominates everything. I do not know a more radical form of olfactory imperialism than that of a tobacco smoke.

A person must detest all this and build in himself a doctrinal incompatibility with it because this scene I just described is fundamentally doctrinally wrong. It demonstrates a connaturality with disorder, filth and rubbish. This is liberalism, which detests all law, every rule and all serious work while carrying on with life in this piggish, disheveled manner. This type of ambience is the vehicle of the culture of obscenity.

Well then, concretely we must relate all the things with the doctrine of the Revolution that we see – an immodest priest, a “prophetic” church, a modern nun, girls wearing men’s pants. This is bad because of this or that doctrinal point. With this, one builds an incompatibility with all that he sees that is disordered. This incompatibility cannot be a moderate one. It must be an incompatibility that goes beyond the pale, as the ancients would say. In other words, what is evil must be called evil, what is terrible must be called terrible and what is detestable must really be detested. Therefore, what is good, true and beautiful must be loved very much.

On the other hand, we should also keep in our hearts and ponder those things that we saw or which did us some good: a beautiful statue of Our Lady, Our Lord, a saint; a grace we received before the tabernacle at Holy Communion; something edifying that we saw. I am talking more about images than men, for men in our time are less and less edifying. So we should adhere to all things that are good and excellent with all the strength of our souls. This is what it means to go on caravan that is anti-liberal, a Montfortian pilgrimage. This is how we acquire the soul and the mentality of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort.

You may ask me, but why must I analyze everything according to R-CR doctrine? I answer: because everything I see produces an effect on me and the fact that I don’t feel this effect doesn’t mean there isn’t any. For example, I am speaking in front of three microphones. I have often looked at them while speaking, and I see that their shapes are revolutionary in various ways. As I look at them I remember they have something revolutionary and make an interior act of rejection, otherwise I become accustomed to them. If I do become accustomed to them because I didn’t reject their revolutionary aspects, one day I might not see a microphone on this table and could have the following reaction: I am unable to speak because I am so used to that microphone that I need a microphone even if it doesn’t work to be able to speak. In other words, the revolutionary tendency from the microphone has entered my soul.

Therefore like it or not, either I am in a continuous state of rejection or I am in a continuous state of acceptance because absolutely no one escapes from this rule. The maxim goes: that which I don’t reject explicitly, I accept implicitly.

It would be interesting for my dear caravan members to take along photo albums with beautiful cities such as Sabara, Ouro Preto, photos of works by Aleijadinho, photos of our seats, campaigns, perhaps that of our parade on Viaduto do Chá, or pictures of Europe so that anyone who wishes can look at them from time to time; or take tapes of Gregorian chant or the St. Pius X Choir, so you can listen to them once in a while.

A human being does not live from whims and cravings. He lives from discerning things in the light of Catholic doctrine. This is to live in prayer. Living in prayer is to analyze and judge all things in the light of the doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church. Make your caravans Montfortian pilgrimages in search of orthodoxy in light of the principles of Revolution and the Counter-Revolution and you will have far more fruitful caravans.