Plinio Corręa de Oliveira
When Still Very Young...
Renouncing My Career and Challenging
At Fatima, Our Lady Announced
the Reign of Mary
Chivalry Camp Closure – Sunday, April 3, 1983
My dear friends, when a man meets another man, he naturally looks for their points of similarity and dissimilarity.
If you take a picture album featuring all the peoples of the earth, you will examine your impressions. Yesterday I was looking at an album of an archipelago you may not have heard of. Lost between America and Oceania, it is the kingdom of Tonga. I was leafing through it, and I saw a party of indigenous people from Tonga wrapped themselves in cloths 10 or 20 yards long looking like barrels. Both men and women were dancing like that. I was amazed, and in my astonishment, I compared that with what we are used to seeing. By making that comparison, one ends end up acquiring knowledge, and that is how I got to know Tonga.
A Tongalese who met me would think the same thing I did. That is what happens between people with a vast age difference when they meet. What a difference between a 74-year-old and a 15-year-old! I wondered how I looked at people who were 70 at the remote time when I was 15.
I cannot help but remember the impression I got when an old person said to me: “after all, I once was 15 years old too.” I was shocked. I had the impression that those people who had preceded me in life and I saw around me had been living that way for centuries and had never been 15 years old but had been born as they were since the coon’s age.
I also felt like they were not going to die but stay like that for an indefinite time. I turned 15, 16, 17, 18 years old, and the calendar was moving only for me while they stood still looking at me as I comfortably and happily, sometimes arduously, went on my way. How was that journey in the remote time when I was 15? My God, it was 1923, and this is 1983! Sixty years ago! How was my journey at that time, and how did I see it? Some of you must be thinking about these things as well.
I thought a lot about my adolescence. I will put myself in your shoes and make me look like I’m sitting here listening to a man my age talk.
A man my age seems settled, defined, all his problems solved as if sitting on a rock. He has no more scares or surprises, and he takes a quiet path forward; everything is resolved.
When I looked like that at my elders at a quiet time, everything was so stable and sure that one had the impression that an older man established in life was firmer than a 30-flight skyscraper compared to my fragility and vitality. I felt huge vitality, not that of an agitated person but a strong surge in a calm one. I was a very calm boy and would not jump up and down. Our Lady has kept me that way throughout my entire life. But within that calm, I felt a vital rush and a capacity and will to live, do, be.
But a question arose: to live like what? To do what? To be what?
Life presented me with such attractive aspects! We were in a period of which you have no idea. You are opening your eyes to life, which for you is just beginning. You are beginning to feel like projects of men. At this moment, when your childhood is behind you, you look at it and say: how long ago I played with toy soldiers, I played with this or that!
You look back at brothers or cousins who are 10 or 12 years old. You are 15 and already beginning to feel like veterans compared to them. A whole world is left behind: that slow childhood of long, pleasant, carefree days. The first aspect of the fight has now entered into this childhood.
What was the first aspect of the fight? The enemy for me—and it must have been for you too—was the alphabet. I had to stop playing, twirling around, and doing what I wanted to do – though always calmly – because the time had come to learn the alphabet and to draw the letters. I always had ugly handwriting that got uglier with age. My teacher did not like my handwriting, and I had to try to write with nice writing. It was the first rocky mountain I had to climb. At most, I managed to draw a rounded letter that had nothing to do with me: it was to calm my lioness teacher.
Then other difficulties continued —difficulties of childhood, studies, parents. Unfortunately, there is a time when the child starts to turn against his parents, and I went through this time like everyone else.
Then that is resolved, but difficulties emerge with friends: we fight with a friend and play with a cousin or brother. Then you make up, then your friend no longer cares about you and kicks you, or you kick him. Real life begins; the fight begins.
When you’re a child, you get bogged down in this up to your head. Suddenly, it is as if we had watched a theater play with a forest painted in the background. The forest cloth drops, and the classroom appears in the other setting. In the blink of an eye, that childish mess falls like a curtain; you age, and from the way they treat you, you understand: look, your childhood is over. That world you thought would last is now behind you. Lower the curtain and start a new chapter. It’s life.
From your exclamations, I get the impression that I was clear and that you grasp exactly grasp what I am saying. Your life is on, and the family, doing its duty, begins to say: “be careful! Beware, this can lead you to error, failure, or sin. Do not do this! Do not do that! Do not be impolite! Then comes a series of prohibitions to prevent us from becoming barbarians because there’s a barbarian in every man. If we do whatever we feel like, we are barbarians. So they say, “don’t do this, don’t do that,” and we begin to feel cornered by something called civilization. But while we feel cramped, we also feel dazzled.
One realizes how life presents many possibilities of pleasure, victory, and honest success. And we get the exact idea that it is something challenging to do but pays off. In the end, there’s a prize!
During these days at Our Lady’s Amparo Hermitage, you were invited for leisure and entertainment, and I can see you enjoyed it. You also had to do difficult things. It so happens when a man is your age, he begins to face difficult things and strikes his forehead as I did, thinking: how life has so many many and complicated things! Depending on how I live it, if I slack off life can afford me a series of pleasures. If I do not slack off, life has a lot of difficult things. If I enjoy the pleasures it offers, in the end, I am left with nothing. I can see that all those who have enjoyed life are like flat tires. They became useless for everything else! And they are particularly worthless if they enjoyed life by sinning and offending God. God’s justice has harvested some of these flat tires and cast them into hell to burn for all eternity.
On the other hand, when we have lived and look back to take stock of our pleasant times and difficult moments, do you know what we miss? We miss the times of struggle and sacrifice. We start thinking: remember that challenging exam in which I finally managed to figure out the answer and passed with a top grade? Remember such a colleague who wanted to drag me down to evil, but I furiously confronted him, so he retreated in disappointment as I continued on my way? Remember such other occasion when I felt a temptation forming and attacking me like a storm, saying, “come, come, come,” as if it wanted to swallow me? But I bent my knees in distress and said St. Bernard’s prayer to Our Lady: Remember O most gracious, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thine assistance, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.”
Our Lady heeded my prayer and gave me inner strength. I felt changed and told the temptation: get out of here! To use the words of Scripture, pes meos stecti in directo -- my feet, O Lord, remained on the straight path. And the psalm continues-- in ecclesiis benedicam te, Domina (Ps 25:162). I will bless thee, my Mother, in all the assemblies of just and good men because when temptation roared around me, my feet remained on the right path, on thy path.
At this moment, you have the option offered to me within your soul. And the choice was: I saw the possibility of being a man of faith, a pure, upright man who spent his life fighting for an ideal no matter how difficult that struggle was, and then to be at ease when I appeared before the judgment of God.
I loved having all the splendors of snow when the sun hits it, all the splendors that come from faith, purity, and courage inside my soul.
I looked to the past – as they aptly recalled here, and I wrote in a book on TFP’s epic history [Fifty Years of Epic Anticommunist Struggle]: “When still very young – younger than you – I marveled at the ruins of Christendom.”
As I looked around me, such a thing seemed holy and pleased me; something else seemed pure and pleased me; something else seemed full of faith and pleased me. As I began to examine it, I saw that it was a tradition still alive from a past that had been splendid in all those things.
I was delighted with these shards of the past that still existed. What fragments, for example? The purity that customs at that time still demanded of girls and ladies. Oh, how opinion disowned a girl who lost her virginity or lady who prevaricated in adultery, divorced or left her lawful husband and took another! I found this admirable and asked myself: where does this come from? It comes from ancient times, from the early Church, from Our Lord Jesus Christ down through the Middle Ages--where they it a unique flowering-- but then decadence began. They are now ruins as far as the eye can see.
I thought: There was a time when everything I love was on top and dominant, and everything I loathe was underfoot. Providence had me born at a time when everything I hate is on top, and everything I love is below.
What will I do? Will I bend my knee to what is above and tell corruption, atheism, and all forms of dominant evil: ‘I adore you,’ to receive the vile prize of those who surrender and act against their conscience to imitate others?
Or I will do the opposite, kiss these ruins one by one, ask Our Lady forgiveness for their being in such state, turn against the moloch above, and shout: Our Lady will bring you down! And I will attack you!
I chose the hard life and renounced my future. A man’s future is about having friends, money, leading the life he wants. I renounced all that while clearly understanding that I would have enemies, difficulties, and fights along this path. But I was keenly aware that another world was rising behind this moloch, a great world full of promise that had to come, in which God would defeat this demon called the modern mentality. On that victory day, I could happily say to myself, with Our Lady’s smile gilding my soul: I fought for Her!
These ideas populated my mind when I was your age; my teenage years were full of thoughts I have increasingly developed over the many decades that Our Lady has allowed me to live.
You can imagine my surprise in my 30s as I read a book about the Fatima apparitions, which I had only vaguely heard of. I had not read about them because I did not know that a pope had approved them. I thought: Let them approve it first. If they do, it is worth reading; if they don’t, it’s not worth reading. My time is precious; I’ll save this for later.
But one fine day, for various reasons, someone put a little book on Fatima in my hands, and I read it. And I realized that the Fatima apparitions were authentic, and that you can’t deny the obvious miracles that surrounded them: the sun moving fabulously across the skies and Our Lady speaking. That happened and can’t be denied. And I saw that She was telling the world what I had been waiting for in my soul from the moment I began to love ruins and to foresee that everything that mocked those ruins would be ruined. Our Lady said: if the world continues in sin, it will be destroyed, but my Reign will come!
You can well imagine, dear friends, my joy seeing that this was the theme of your chivalry camp these days in Amparo. You have become aware of the Fatima message; you have seen what Our Lady wants and announced to men as Queen of Heaven and Earth: be careful because this path of sin will lead to punishments and ruin, but virtue will finally win!
Take this promise of Our Lady to the depths of your souls. On many occasions, maybe in five minutes already on the street, you will find the opposite of this. Here in front of this seat, a huge building is under construction. In it, you will find the pomp and power of the modern world and have the impression that it is indestructible, that tradition is no longer worth anything, that the future is what counts. And the future – say the voices of evil – is one of vile egalitarianism and just as vile sensuality; in a word, communism. The left is the future. Do not believe it! Instead, proclaim: you know nothing about the future or the direction of history. Our Lady, who spoke at Fatima, has that knowledge and command.
If someone laughs at you, saying: never mind Fatima, I don’t believe it! Answer: to disbelieve it, you need to know the reasons for believing and then tell me how they are worthless. Have you ever read anything about it? How can you not believe what you haven’t read? Read it! I’ll get you a book published by the TFP. Read it and then talk to me! If you want, talk to the book’s author, a senior, high-ranking TFP member, Dr. Antonio Augusto Borelli Machado. Ask him to meet him and talk about it.
If the person says: no, I don’t want to! You answer: Oh, I understand. You’re afraid to know why you should believe this, and it makes you furious. That proves that you understood what Our Lady said but do not want to believe it. All right, I believe! I hope, pray and serve Her; my life is hers!
My dear friends, it is running late, and they told me a lovely dinner is waiting for you. Let us close with a prayer to Our Lady of Fatima to always give us great faith and fidelity to her words.