Notes on the Concept of Christendom

May 17, 2018

TO THE READER[1]

In this edition commemorating the third anniversary of the passing of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, we publish a study he wrote in the early 1950’s. This is a small tribute to the outstanding inspirer and mainstay of Catolicismo.

His multiple and intense activities prevented him from completing this study, which remained filed until his death. Accordingly, the original text we bring to light today presents a sketchy character in many of his passages. However, it is of great intellectual and moral value and will certainly be very useful to our readers.

God’s infinite power created all beings unequal, each reflecting divine perfections in its own, unique and unmistakable way. This rule is mirrored with great brilliance in the TFP founder.

What is Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s unique and unmistakable way? When one tries to discover it one becomes embarrassed, such is the wealth of personality, moral and intellectual values that he manifests. The present essay, however, reveals important elements about his special and elevated way of being.

Dr. Plinio himself summed up that something as a harmonious, architectonic, hierarchical and monarchic-aristocratic view of Creation, highlighting the aspects that the Revolution most seeks to combat.[2]

Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s First Holy Communion

From a very young age he became an enthusiastic admirer of the ruins of Christendom. From those he rose to the consideration of great metaphysical truths, and later to supernatural realities, Our Lady, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the splendors of the Eternal Father.

He contemplated the natural realities with a calm, innocent and hierarchical gaze. And then he described them a noble, rich, precise, clear and limpid language.

Special mention should be made of his book, In Defense of Catholic Action (1943), honored with a letter of praise sent to the author, on behalf of Pope Pius XII, by Msgr. G. B. Montini, then substitute to the Vatican Secretary of State and later Pope Paul VI;

The considerations he conveyed, as it were, evoked Adam in Paradise contemplating all that the Creator had placed there, thoroughly understanding the reason for each thing, giving it a name, and then, as the sun was setting, conversing with God, who would come to visit.

This same contemplation led Dr. Plinio to face the errors generated by the Revolution, which he fought so hard. On the one hand, materialism both in its socialist-communist version according to which the material and social universe exists only to satisfy the basic bodily needs of massified man; and in its pragmatic materialism, which seeks exclusively to satisfy the arbitrary and sensual whims of hedonist man.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

On the other extreme, which was also the object of his critical analysis, is a false piety that confines religiosity to churches and sacristies, presenting it as a subjective, emotional or sensitive experience. According to this concept of piety, except for a select few favored by extraordinary mystical phenomena, the overwhelming majority of the faithful should vegetate in mediocrity, in the gray banality of everyday existence.

Both extremes converge on one point: the common man’s social and earthly activity should be restricted to a life without horizons or transcendence, be it metaphysical or supernatural.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira indicated and emphasized the point of balance, which counters and elides both exaggerations. He attracted the attention of his contemporaries and their successors to an upright contemplation of the temporal order established by the Creator so that through it men might know, love and serve God.

Dr. Plinio shows a delicate and shrewd sensibility that brings to mind the words of St. Thérèse, The Little Flower: “[God] set the book of nature before my eyes.” In addition to nature, the fruitful works of Christian civilization were a constant object of his enthused contemplation.

And as he made his perceptions and intellections explicit erecting as it were in a burst of loving enthusiasm, a cathedral of doctrines that rose up to heaven one also felt in him the strength of thought drawn from St. Thomas Aquinas.

His rich personality also contained an unmistakable note of Ignatian logic which bore the fruits of contemplation and love in battle array against the Gnostic and egalitarian Revolution. It is worth mentioning that St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus and column of the Counter-Reformation, was the author of the celebrated Spiritual Exercises in which the contemplation of scenes of our Redeemer’s earthly life plays a prominent role.

We should also mention the “ministerial” character of the temporal order in relation to the spiritual sphere, which Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira points out at the end of this essay, referring to the “notion of the temporal society as minister of the Church.” This opens up perspectives for understanding “sacral temporal society,” a thesis broached by St. Thomas Aquinas as he stated: “When they apply penalties to restrain sin, in this task the secular powers are ministers of God: according to what is affirmed in the Epistle to the Romans, 13:4: [The public authority is] God’s minister: an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil” (II IIae, q.19, a3, ad2).

The essay that now comes to light explains the foundations for the celebrated section that Dr. Plinio maintained in Catolicismo for many years, titled “Ambiences, Customs, Civilizations,” the most precious and original section in the history of our magazine. The time when the TFP founder wrote this work coincided with the publication of the initial sections of “Ambiences, Customs, Civilizations.”

To this day, Revolution and Counter-Revolution is Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s masterpiece. I am certain that Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility will stand right next to it in the general consensus.In the ideas outlined in this essay lies the heart of the true concept of Christendom and the most profound reason for the struggle the TFP carries out in defense of Christian civilization. These ideas are also the mainstay of Dr. Plinio’s masterpiece, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, written a few years later.

Notes on the Concept of Christendom also shows a glimmer of the author’s future explicitation on the necessity and beauty of harmonic and proportionate social inequalities, contained in his last book, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII to the Roman Patriciate and Nobility.

In Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites, best-selling author Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira ambitiously argues the contrary. Drawing on papal and other classic sources, Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira demonstrates the natural necessity of social hierarchy.

Finally, in this stupendous essay the reader will also find the deepest explanation of the struggle Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira carried out, and with him the TFP, against socialist and confiscatory reforms, and against factors of contemporary moral corruption such as abortion, same-sex “marriage”, TV immorality, etc.

The egalitarian Revolution has unleashed these evils on the world to try and extinguish the vestiges of Christian civilization, especially in this convulsed and chaotic end of the millennium.

Paulo Corrêa de Brito Filho

Editor-in-Chief of Catolicismo

[1] Published in Catolicismo, October 1988, under the title Cristandade. The title, subtitle and intertitles of this essay are from the editors. Likewise, texts enclosed in square brackets […] are meant to facilitate the understanding of the text.

[2] By “monarchic-aristocratic” Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira does not refer mainly to a kind of political regime; his conception was incomparably broader and more encompassing. He saw the whole order of the Universe as unequal and hierarchical in its constituent elements, and obedient to the principle of unity in its organization.

 

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