Catholic Virtues
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Three Souls, One Page

Lyle J. Arnold, Jr.
In the late ‘60s, a phrase entered our language, though whence it came I know not. But it is now used so commonly that one could say that it has become a consecrated addition to our speech. We have all heard it: "You and I are on the same page."

I was pouring over some works of Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira when unexpectedly this image of being on the page came to mind. It was like a noble breeze that carried with it the words of two saints, St. John and St. Teresa, whispering, as it were, delightful reminiscences from the past, complementing Dr. Plinio’s writings.

Our Lady of Bethlehem

We must have unlimited confidence in the goodness of Our Lady

In an article titled “The Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Prof. Plinio stated: “My Mother, I am not strong enough to give myself to thee. Enter into my soul with graces that I am unable to resist, shatter this door that in my misery I do not want to open. I will be awaiting thee behind that door with all my appreciation and gratitude.”

Of all the people I have known in my lifetime, I would dare say that, in the contemporary era, Dr. Plinio is at the top of the list for people who have, indeed, been “strong enough” to give himself to Our Lady. Hence, I suspect his humble remonstration was teaching us how we should pray.

It would seem that Dr. Plinio, in his greatness of his soul, whether consciously or not, was encouraging those who fight for the defense of the Holy Church to have recourse to the unlimited mercy of Our Lady. In another article, in fact, he recalls in this respect the words of St. John: “I have given before thee an open door, which no man can shut: because thou has a little strength, and has kept My word and has not denied My name” (Apoc. 3: 8). He asserts it is more than legitimate to apply these words of an open door to our relationship with the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I suspect that Dr. Plinio made his first touching vignette as a delicate tactic, that his fellow and prospective Counter-Revolutionaries would allow the graces to enter their souls.

This brings to mind other words of Prof. Plinio regarding the confidence we should have in Our Lady and the graces she wants to give us. In the same article, he wrote:

“Our Lady concedes such graces in a way that often they remain manifest in the soul like a blaze of fire, a fire that comes from Heaven and the Holy Ghost, not an earthy fire, and still less the infernal fire. It gives birth in our souls to the conviction that we can have recourse to her in any circumstance even the most indefensibly ones, and that she will forgive us again, because she opens to us a door of mercy that no one can close.”

I believe this extraordinary grace belongs to the authentic deposit of Catholic mysticism. St. Teresa of Jesus also speaks of this mysterious grace as being like a flame. She wrote about it when she had to explain to her superiors about the mystical phenomena she was experiencing. It was these words of hers that came to my mind:

“The way in which what we call [this supernatural] union comes and its nature, I do not know how to explain. It is described in mystical theology, but I am unable to use the proper terms, and I cannot understand what is meant by ‘mind’ or how this differs from ‘soul’ or ‘spirit.’ They all seem the same to me, though the soul sometimes extends beyond its own limits, like a burning coal that becomes wholly a flame and, sometimes, this burning coal grows in intensity with a great force.

“This flame rises very high above the burning coal, but that does not make it a different thing: It is the same flame which is in the coal. This, with all your learning, Your Reverences will understand, there is nothing more that I can say of it.” (1)

May Our Lady of Good Success give us the grace to be on the same page as St. John and St. Teresa and, pari passu, of Prof. Plinio.

  1. The Life of Teresa of Jesus, autobiography, NY: Image/Doubleday, 1960/91 p. 174.
Posted October 24, 2014