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True & False Paths to Happiness - XXV

The Pyramid of Archetypes that Lead to God

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

king louis ix

St. Louis IX, the archetype for the Kings of France

If someone has a certain quality in "x" degree, he only has it because another being has the same quality in a much higher degree. He participates in some way in the quality that exists in the highest being.

This highest being can be called an archetype. What is an archetype? It is a type that has, in an ultra-characteristic way, an outstanding quality to the fullest degree possible for a creature.

There can be, for example, an archetipic king, an archetypic warrior, an archetypic teacher, even an archetypic porter.

When an archetype exists, around him many men flourish who have, to a lesser degree, qualities that they share with him. And, for qualities to exist in mankind, there must be a whole pyramid of archetypes.

Further, beyond mankind, there must be Angels who have this quality with a much greater density than what we men have. Then, above all the Angels, there is God.

All qualities exist in God in an infinite way

Let us center our idea on God. The qualities that exist in beings exist in God in an infinite way. What qualities? All of them – in Angels, men, animals, vegetables and minerals.


The brilliance of the jewels ultimately flows from the brilliance of God

Why does something brilliant shine? Because God has, in a spiritual way, a quality whose material image is brilliance. If God did not exist or ceased to exist, everything brilliant would cease to shine because all the brilliance of the brilliant flows continually from God. God does not shine like a stone because He is not a stone, but He has a perfection that the stone imitates by shining.

Why does a flower have a perfume? Because this perfume of the flower is a quality that, in its own way, exists infinitely in God, as in a spirit and not as in matter. Matter participates in its own way in this quality of God and has its perfume.

Thus, when I appreciate that flower, I have – in a general, unconscious way – a mysterious and ineffable idea of something that exists in a being outside of this life Who is perfect and infinite.

Let us imagine a perfect causeur (a marvelous conversationalist, extremely pleasant, interesting, attractive, kind, fascinating, in short, a man with every possible social quality). I would like to spend a good amount of my time with this man, whose action stimulates me to act, whose rest is restful and rests me, whose timbre of voice is music to my ear, whose gaze is light, whose presence is warm, etc. Everything extremely enchanting!

Well and good. But even being so well entertained, I could always be more so since there is always another degree of enjoyment. In final analysis, since this man has these qualities in such a degree, there must be a being who has more of those qualities than he has. There must be a being who, in the end, possesses them in infinite proportions. Indeed, how wonderful it will be when I see – face to face – God, infinitely entertaining.

‘I want more’


The quest to find ‘more’

All things were created to awaken in us the taste for more: "Plus ultra, I want more, I want more!" is the continuous movement of the soul of a Catholic.

Not only do I want more, but I want everything. And, because I want everything, I do not find it in anything, but my reason shows me that it exists somewhere beyond, in an infinite way.

Behold here the possibility to enjoy things in a way that never frustrates! Because here on earth at first we like something immensely, and then it disappoints us. But these things contain in themselves an announcement, a promise and a foretaste of something more and make it possible for us to bear this life.

These considerations invite us to have an anti-egalitarian spirit. This is because, in those who are my archetypes, capable of being more than what I am, I see images of God.

These archetypes attract me just as the fullness attracts the part. And then they lead me to the fullness of the fullness which is God Our Lord.

The opposite of the modern spirit

This spirit of participation in archetypes, instead of making life monotonous, makes it pleasant and enjoyable.

I feel sorry for those who do not recognize this just as a man who sees feels sorry for a blind man.


Finding the perfect & absolute God in Communion

It is this enjoyment that gives us the strength to endure many dull, unpleasant things from morning until night.

Enjoyment in what? Enjoyment in looking at a thousand things, thinking: "I want more! I will have more! I have more!"

At the time of Communion, this perfect and absolute God – omne delectamentum in se habentem (having in it all delights)" – although physically imperceptible, enters my soul. And then, even on this Earth, I have something.

Here the Catholic spirit shows itself: It is a very hierarchical spirit, because in all things it seeks the archetype, it seeks the greatest created perfection that is possible and, then, it flies to the uncreated perfection.

Someone may note that this position of soul is very different from the modern spirit.

Only very different? "No," I protest, "it is the exact opposite and nothing less!" It is the negation of the modern spirit, which is precisely, frontally, bluntly and directly the opposite of this search for absolutes.

quest for absolutes

The quest for absolutes leads to the world of the Angels and, then, to God



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Posted February 8, 2021