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Elias the Prophet - I – July 20

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection:

Elias was the first man who had devotion to Our Lady. He founded the Carmelite Order and transmitted this devotion to it. He also fought against the polytheism that was contaminating the Israelite religion, as well as the bad customs of his people. He prepared his disciples to continue the same fight to preserve the true Faith in Israel.

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Elias the Prophet
by Fra Angelico

In the bulls In Apostolicae dignitatis and Dominici gregis cura, Pope Clement VIII declared that conversion of souls is a part of the mission of Elias inherited by the Carmelites. In one of his epistles St. Athanasius advised a hermit to dedicate himself to the conversion of his fellow man following the example of Elias. In her revelations, St. Bridget of Sweden saw the Mother of God offer Elias and St. John the Evangelist to men as models for preachers. St. Ambrose also acknowledged the exceptional gift of Elias for conversion, and St. Ephrem affirmed that the Prophet led the way in the conversion of the Israelites to the true God, from Whom they had distanced themselves.

St. John Chrysostom stated that Elias was the guide of peoples and the guardian of sacred things. St Gregory the Great saw in Elias the model of the true Doctor. St. Gregory Nazianzen pointed to him as an example for Prelates. St. Simeon Metaphrastes advised that one who wants to know the spirit of a religious order should study the spirit of its founder, since he is the spiritual father of all its followers. In Elias, he concludes, his burning fire and zeal of soul was so intense that they were transmitted as primary characteristics of the Carmelite Order.

Fr. Cornelius a Lapide spoke these inspired words about him: “Elias was the symbol of all the Prophets in consideration not only of his perfection, liberty and efficacy in preaching but also of the glory of his great actions. He was the sentinel, the prophet, the master, the protector and the apostle of the Chosen Nation, and he was the mirror of the preachers of the Divine Word, since his spirit, tongue, and gestures were but one single flame turned toward converting peoples.”

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

These are profound thoughts that show Elias as a kind of Prince of the Prophets. Prince of the Prophets, because he had a broader mission than the others, he converted more people, and his action was more profound for the Israeli nation. He was a true guide of God’s People, who saved it from disaster.

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The Chosen People had strayed from the true God
and were worshipping the false gods of their neighbors

He came to fight against heresies in a time when the Chosen Nation had completely deteriorated. Divine Providence chose Elias to found a religious order, to communicate to it his spirit and then to sustain this spirit in the whole Israeli nation. His spirit encompassed all the gifts God wanted to give to Israel.

The synagogue had deteriorated because it had accepted the errors of neighboring religions. At that moment Elias came to fight, to expel heresy, to restore the kingdom of God in the people of God, to found a family of followers, and to thus begin to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. This was the grandiose mission of Elias.

It is beautiful to see how God is traditionalist. How He loves the continuity in His own works. One of the proofs of this is that in the far distant past He sent two men, Enoch and Elias, to guarantee that nothing would change from that model He had established in the early times. That same continuity exists between the things He taught Enoch and Elias then and in end times, when they will again come to confirm those truths and convert those who are able to be converted, or to fight against those who have deviated from the truth. Therefore Elias and Enoch are the bridges God established between His marvelous work in early times and His marvelous work to come in the end times.

Both Prophets – Elias and Enoch – did not die, but probably live in the terrestrial Paradise, where they contemplate the things of Heaven and follow the course of events on earth. They are awaiting the clock of History to strike their hour to return. Then the Angels will transport them to earth to fight against the Antichrist. They will come to fight the last battle of History. That is really a beautiful thing! Having lived in the early days of time, they will return to link the beginning of History to its end, like a kind of clasp that connects and gives unity to all of History.

Elias was the first man to have devotion to Our Lady. In a small cloud in the distance he saw from Mount Carmel, he understood a symbol of Our Lady. The small cloud grew larger and larger and gave origin to a rain that saved the Israeli nation from a terrible drought. Our Lady was the cloud and Our Lord was the rain. So, this same man who first glorified the Holy Virgin will be the last one to sing her praises at the end. We can understand how magnificent this saint is.

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The trumpet will sound, Elias and Enoch will return to battle

The Chosen People indisputably was a pre-figure of the Catholic Church. This is something St. Paul often taught. The crisis Elias resolved in his time has countless analogies with the crisis we are witnessing today in Holy Mother Church. Therefore, Elias is also the patron of those who combat the Progressivist Revolution inside the Catholic Church and fight to maintain the tradition God established in His Church. Our analogous situation draws the love of Elias to us, Catholics who have dedicated our lives to this fight. Also our devotion to the Holy Virgin is another factor that attracts his benevolence.

What should we ask Elias on his feast day? I would suggest asking him for three graces:
1. To increase our devotion to Our Lady;

2. To help us see more clearly both in its supernatural and natural aspects our vocation of serving the Catholic Church;

3. To transform us into true Apostles of the Last Times, and for this to give us a fiery spirit, coherence, combativeness and a love for celestial things, so admirably described by St. Louis Grignion de Monfort as characteristic of the Apostles of the Last Times.
With these three supernatural gifts I am certain we can accomplish our vocation and, doing this, attain celestial happiness after having had an earthly happiness. Because in this life true happiness comes from knowing and realizing what we were born to do. It is the only true happiness. I hope Our Lady will give to all of us this happiness.

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Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.



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