I Have Found the Precious Pearl of the Gospel

September 12, 2011

João Filipe Osório de Menezes Pita

Count of Proença-a-Velha

Count of Proença-a-Velha

Born in Lisbon in 1928

It was with enormous joy that I accepted the invitation to collaborate with this book dedicated to outline some facets of the personality and work of Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira.

I never met him personally, which is an immense pity, but got to know him through his ideas and his work, the TFPs. And soon I realized it was someone in relation to whom one could not remain indifferent.

I have an extraordinary admiration for this Gentleman – in capital letters – as a Catholic, monarchist, patriot, and also as a writer. Thanks be to God, I envy no one. But for all that Prof. Plinio wrote, for the extraordinary level of spirituality that he attained, I feel, as it were, an envy, a holy envy. For, really, to consecrate one’s whole life trying to raise up all that still remained of the splendor of the Church and Christian Civilization, and see what he has achieved, it is simply fabulous!

He was a man who did not hesitate or vacillate, who had set his way and followed it with courage, not stopping before obstacles. On reading many of his writings I have the sensation he was a person who knew how to draw material for profound and wise reflection from everything. And I have the impression it is as if God or Jesus Christ Himself were seeing things that way.

History of an Enthusiasm

Two books by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira marked me especially: Revolution and Counter-Revolution and, above all, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility.

I am a man of Faith. I believe in God and have great devotion to Our Lady. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the Kingdom of Portugal, is also the patroness of my House. The first bond dates from 1669, when the village of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Proença-a-Velha was established. As a consequence of this Faith I defend certain principles and institutions: God, the Church, the Papacy, King, Nation and Family.

The book, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites, defends these same principles in such a profound, clear and up-to-date manner that I was really enthused from the beginning. And it is about this enthusiasm that I would like to talk here.

I remember when, as the evening waxed to an end, two young men showed up in my home bringing that book. At that point they were legitimate representatives of the TFP and the work of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Since I was not in, my wife, believing they were students trying to sell her yet one more of those encyclopedias, strove kindly to send them on their way. But, perhaps even more kindly, they asked her to keep the book until the next day, saying we would certainly take an interest in it.

She began to leaf through the book and was enchanted with the first things she read. She said to herself: “That’s what my father instilled in me, that’s my upbringing, the tradition of my family; but I could never have imagined this would be published and printed as a book explaining Catholic doctrine and, even more concretely, the doctrine of that Pope.”  It was a surprise for her to find a confirmation of all the principles she learned as a little girl, and which she had the impression were threatened by a certain progressivist propaganda that described one’s own sense of nobility as an wrongful manifestation of pride.

Upon running into such a book and reading a few of its passages, she was enthused. And when I got home, it was my wife who was asking me to buy it. Of course, she had no difficulty convincing me. The next day, the two young men came back. I was very positively impressed by their good demeanor, education, and higher than average culture for their age.

I kept the book and became very interested in it. This interest grew even more as I read it, and at a certain point it turned into real enthusiasm. I began to speak about it to family and friends and bought another two copies which I gave as birthday presents to my oldest son and my sister. It seemed to me I had found at last the precious pearl of the Gospel.

 

A Book That Changed the Strategy of My Life

The book, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites, greatly changed my way of thinking and my life strategy to act in a different manner and with different goals, because I felt there was someone, and someone very strong—Prof. Plinio—who supported us in these goals and had the gift of transmitting these ideals and driving us forward. Until then I had found no one who supported me that way.

But it was not only Prof. Plinio but also the movement he created—Tradition Family and Property—whose followers I see as extraordinary people because of their strength of will and dynamism. On considering this work I thought and continue to think that this is the true Catholic Faith that I was taught.

I perceived that this book came to fill a gap in Religion as it had been conveyed to us, for it became clear that some Popes had already spoken about the mission of nobility, such as, for example, Benedict XV when he dealt with the “priesthood of the nobility.”

The pontificate of Pius XII elapsed between my twelfth and thirtieth years of age, and I remember my family at the time talking about Pope Pacelli as a great Pope. I am convinced that my father and my mother, always so zealous to transmit everything having to do with family and Tradition, would have told us about these allocutions had they known about them, but they simply were not talked about at the time.

 

A Book Written By Someone With a Great Soul

As I said, enthusiasm gradually grew in me as I read the work, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites. And I asked myself, why this enthusiasm?  Would it be because of Pope Pius XII and his allocutions to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility?

I reread some passages to quote them here, but their content is so rich and, in a word, so noble that it is better to let everyone read it for himself carefully. Yet I do not resist to transcribe only one excerpt: “The nature of this great and mysterious thing that is heredity—the passing on through a bloodline, perpetuated from generation to generation, of a rich ensemble of material and spiritual assets, the continuity of a single physical and moral type from father to son, the tradition that unites members of one same family across the centuries—the true nature of this heredity can undoubtably be distorted by materialistic theories. But one can, and must also, consider this reality enormously important in the fullness of its human and supernatural truth. (Allocution of January 5, 1941.)

Archduchess Maria Josefa of Austria (1867-1944) and sons Karl Joseph and Maximilian, 1910.

When we are involved in an enterprise which we cannot legitimately leave without reneging on our name, family, tradition, the property we have inherited and above all God, to Whom we owe everything, any help is welcome. But when this help comes from the supreme authority of the Church, the representative of Christ on earth, the Pope, our forces redouble with energy.

Of course these allocutions had an enormous impact on the enthusiasm that the book stirred up in me, but that alone does not explain it well.

Prince Luiz of Orleans-Braganza

Then I thought it must have been the figure of Prince Luiz de Orleans-Braganza, Head of the Imperial House of Brazil, with his preface to the book. I know a good part of the work of Prince Luiz in Brazil, where he has shown great courage and made an extraordinary effort for the restoration of the monarchy. I was honored to receive him and his brother, Prince Bertrand, in my home, and both left me extraordinarily impressed. They are unforgettable presences that do not leave anyone indifferent. Someone said there are five races in the world: Whites, blacks, reds, yellows, and kings. It is true that they have a different presence and a manner of speaking, acting and even walking that is different from other people.

They are making great strides in the peaceful but valiant action that I lead with the brilliant and efficient help of my brother and eventual successor, Prince Bertrand.

Of course, the preface of Prince Luiz influenced my enthusiasm, but as is natural, not as much as the Pope’s allocutions.

Could it have been, then, the figure of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, with his “preferential option for the nobility?”

More or less at the time I got to know the book of Prof. Plinio I went again to Coimbra with friends and family to visit the theme park called Portugal dos Pequeninos [Portugal of the Little Ones]. It is a park made above all for the young and reproduces the cultural values of a missionary and civilizing Portugal. Part of it recreates ambiences in villages across the country, from north to south; and another part reproduces great Portuguese monuments. It is a message of Portugality.

And to my mind came Os Lusíadas [by Camões, the celebrated Portuguese writer], with its “glorious memories of those kings who extended Faith and Empire to the vicious lands of Africa and Asia…”; vicious lands that missionary action made vigorous and flourishing.

Portugal dos Pequeninos

Almost in front of the entrance gate there is a great panel with a world map displaying the names, trips and discoveries of Portuguese navigators, and above one reads this inscription: “Had there been more world, I’d have gotten there.” If we wanted to replace it with a phrase about developments in my country over the last thirty years we would have to write: “Had there been more Portugal, more would have been sold;” or “Had there been more Portugal, more would have been stolen.”

Where are the Faith, the Empire, and the flourishing lands?

Henry the Navigator's statue in front of a world map at the entrance of Portugal dos Pequeninos.

With the help of God, some Faith has perhaps remained, but the Empire has ceased to exist and in the flourishing lands there is hatred, hunger, and war. I wondered if the eight-century effort by a people to form an empire and a great nation had been worth it.  I felt a certain discouragement, but then I remembered the poet’s phrase: “All is worthwhile if the soul not be small.”

I related these ideas with the book, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites. And if it is true that Portugal had, over the last few decades, small, narrow minded and miserable souls who have governed us and destroyed my country, the book impressed me because of its great soul. The person who wrote it had a great soul: He truly had magnanimity.

This book gave me noble sentiments! Today we are surrounded by things that are not noble and we always tend to banality and degradation. Virtue, which is the true symbol of nobility, has practically ceased to exist.

Just look around: Noble metals such as gold and silver have been replaced with stainless steel; ...

Just look around: Noble metals such as gold and silver have been replaced with stainless steel; silk and linen, with polyester; porcelain and crystal, with plastic. And the same happens with food: Olive oil was replaced with vegetable oil, butter with margarine, and wine with Coca-Cola.

This is what touches our senses. When we get in touch with other people’s ideas or feelings, it gets a lot worse and more dangerous: Love has become sex; the ideal of society is now money; people only speak of business and think about the economy, which takes priority over family, country and everything else.

...silk and linen, with polyester; porcelain and crystal, with plastic.

The “Gospel of the Nobles”

I have a great vice in my life, which is hunting. I do not know if it is a vice, a passion, or both. I normally hunt by myself in places far from home. As I drive there I talk to myself and think about things. Once, as I returned from hunting, I began to think that if I had made all the effort to find game (partridges, wild hens and so on) in order to find God instead, I would have gained Heaven long ago. But I also thought this: Since I love hunting and will not give it up, why not look for God as I hunt?

The fog was covering the valleys and it also seemed to cover our preoccupations and the evils of this world. The light was more pure, and so was the air. It seemed as if nature itself was awaking full of grace, like Our Lady. I very easily felt the presence of God.

This is what I have tried to do ever since. One day I left home in the morning amid a fog so thick you could cut it with a knife. As I went up the hill the fog gradually stayed below and when I reached the top it was a beautiful day. What a marvel it is to watch the sunrise! The fog was covering the valleys and it also seemed to cover our preoccupations and the evils of this world. The light was more pure, and so was the air. It seemed as if nature itself was awaking full of grace, like Our Lady. I very easily felt the presence of God.

This book by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira also made me feel the presence of God. It is as it were, a breath from God. It holds us responsible in such a way, not only for what we are, but for what we must be and do, that I dare call it the Gospel of Nobles.

Nobility and Tradition

It was also with great joy that I saw the foundation, based on this book, of the association Noblesse et Tradition, dedicated to defend noble values in light of the principles expounded by Prof. Plinio. I believe both the association and its goals are marvelous. I have already participated in two conferences promoted by Noblesse et Tradition, one in Rome and the other in Lisbon. In addition to all the topics dealt with at these gatherings, they are an opportunity for us to meet people from several countries who speak the same “language” we do, have the same ideas and share the same goals. It is an effort we should carry forward so as to have a unity of goals among all countries and work toward one only end. We have a duty to disseminate the principles that Prof. Plinio bequeathed to us.

 

The TFPs Remind Us of the Presence of God

My wife and I also made this contact with the ideas and personality of Prof. Plinio through the excellent biography written by Prof. Roberto de Mattei, The Crusader of the Twentieth Century. In it you see a man capable of daring and doing, having courage and a total absence of cowardice and human respect in a world very hostile to counter-revolutionary ideas.

The Church today is going through a very great crisis. She is not guilty, as she is holy and immaculate. The guilt is that of her leaders and promoters of new ideas such as rationalism, liberalism and progressivism. I note that even people we deem good are very sleepy and at times a real earthquake or tsunami like the one in Indonesia is needed to wake them up.

If society obeyed the Ten Commandments of God’s Law it would not need many laws. But people keep looking for laws to suit their own ideas. This is why I do not accept this dictatorship of “democracy” in which majorities can vote wrong and illicit things into law simply because at a certain point that choice suits them just fine.

If all people had Catholicity, if everyone tried to be virtuous, the world would be something else. And why is it not? Because today, more and more, everyone looks for his own benefit and could not care less about others or—which is worse—about God.

The socialist cultural Revolution has advanced so much that it is amazing to see how it has reached and influenced all generations. As this process advances, how many things that used to scandalize people ten or twenty years ago today no longer scandalize anyone. I refer above all to the moral aberrations we are witnessing.

It was precisely because of this that I was enchanted with the ideas of Prof. Plinio, the followers he formed and inspired, and his work—the TFPs—represented today in Brazil by the Association of the Founders of TFP—Tradition Family Property. It is in this work, which opposes the whole process of decadence in the Church and in society that I see the renewed Church, the Church that I once knew.

TFP people with whom I got in touch dedicate themselves to advancing the cause of Tradition, Family and Property both in Brazil as well as in Portugal, France and so many other countries. These people live in the presence of God and radiate this presence. Today I realize that many Catholics with whom I share my existence speak out but do not feel or live what they are saying. On the contrary, in this movement founded by Prof. Plinio one feels a divine presence that comes out of it, something different, completely different.

I also perceived this spiritual force of TFP members, in a special way, in the two Princes of the Imperial House of Brazil, whom I had the honor to receive in my house more than once. Prince Luiz—whom I see as the legitimate Emperor of Brazil—and Prince Bertrand, Prince Imperial of Brazil, transmit to me this presence of God through their lives of sacrifice dedicated to a cause, each in his own way.

When I went to Brazil and visited the TFP, I thought to myself, about the Reign of Mary: I am certain that these stones will become a mountain, which is the Kingdom of God, the spiritual kingdom! And I reflected that it was through this movement, the association Tradition Family and Property, that this was really happening. There was something different there, distinct from what we were used to see. And my wife and I became extraordinarily enthused with it. Something inside us said: Try and help this whole movement.

Finally, for what I could see in the TFPs and in the various persons I got in touch with, I realized there is a soul, a rejuvenation that is not change but rather an extraordinary continuity and renewal within the Catholic spirit.

I am convinced that Prof. Plinio was a saint; and this is why he had the ideas he had and was able to found and expand a movement like the TFP.

 

(Nobility.org translation. First published in Dez Anos Depois)

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