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True & False Paths to Happiness - IX

Is It Possible to Recover Innocence?

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
First innocence gone, would all be lost? Is it irrecoverable or can it be restored?

Undoubtedly a restoration can take place. It is not simply a matter of converting a repentant sinner – although conversion surely relates to the topic – but of returning to the primeval state of internal harmony that constitutes innocence.

city of Ys

The underwater cathedral of Ys

According to a Breton legend, in a certain place on the coast of Brittany, France, there was a cathedral – the Cathedral of Ys – that had been swallowed up by the waters. The whole edifice was tragically submerged in the sea. It is the famous legend of the cathédrale engloutie, the mythological sunken cathedral of the city of Ys.

From time to time, angels would ring the cathedral bells at the bottom of the sea. Those beautiful sounds rose up, layer by layer, to the surface of the sea. And the fishermen who passed by on a calm afternoon would hear the mysterious bells ringing at the bottom of the sea...

The fisherman say that one day the cathedral – intact under the waves of the sea – will return to the mainland even more beautiful than it was before.

There is no one who does not perceive the extraordinary beauty, the extraordinary poetry of this legend.

First innocence is not something that the Devil can completely snatch from our soul, but it remains as an cathédrale engloutie, a cathedral immersed in the waters of sin, but it still exists in us. From time to time, the bells of that innocence ring and make us feel some interior melody, some nostalgia, some hope, in a good moment that passes.

Which of us has not felt this? Certainly we all have. On what occasions? On the thousand occasions that grace chooses. At one's First Communion... and so many other times in our lives.

The problem with restoring first innocence – using the image of the cathédrale engloutie – is to make that submersed cathedral, which is the innocence we conserve within us in the waters of sin, cease to be engloutie and rise again. Then the waters of the cathedral will flow away and it will shine in the sunlight. The cathedral will be restored.

It is a pardon that wins us

Thus, the man who has lost his innocence hears in the depths of his soul, as it were, the bells of that submerged cathedral ring. He has longings for the time when that primeval order dwelt in his spirit.

first communion

Longing for a moment of innocence, like First Communion, can help to restore it

These are longings that save: There is no need for us to cry about the lost paradise that we broke with – and that also would have broken with us. Instead, we must think the opposite: This paradise has not broken with us and is constantly knocking on our door.

These longings are the bells of the submerged cathedral that are making themselves heard.

More than a pardon to win back, it is the pardon that wins us back.

It is superfluous to say that this does not exclude repentance of our past sins, the firm purpose to not fall again and due reparation. It also does not exclude that we have always to carefully and attentively cultivate the principles of the Catholic doctrine and scrutinize them to be sure that everything we do is correct. But there are moments in life when we receive some supernatural help that mere reasoning could never of itself elicit.

It is then necessary to analyze what is happening in us, to see if the effects produced in our souls are in accordance with reason. Of course, if they are not, they should not be accepted. But if they are, they can be the beginning of a path of refreshment, light and peace.

Restoration Prayer to Our Lady

We can and must ask Our Lady for the restoration of innocence. We should address this prayer to her:

our lady
“There are moments, o my Mother, in which my soul feels touched in its deepest recesses by an ineffable yearning. I long for the time in which I loved thee and thou didst love me in the vernal atmosphere of my spiritual life. I yearn for thee, my Lady, and for the paradise which was placed in me by the great communication I had with thee. Dost thou not also, my Lady, long for that time? Dost thou not long for the goodness which existed in that son which I once was?

“Come, then, thou who art the best of mothers, and for the love of that which was blossoming in me, restore me. Recompose in me that love for thee, and make of me the complete realization of that son without stain which I would have been had I not been so miserable. Give me, o my Mother, a repentant and humbled heart, and make shine once again before my eyes that which, through the splendor of thy grace, I had once begun to love so very much. Remember, o Lady, this David and all the sweetness thou didst place in him. So be it.”

Continued

Posted May 6, 2020