One day, Plinio was in gymnastics class at St. Louis College, where he studied.1 As he would later recount, the area was framed by elegant and graceful bamboo trees, planted with well-aligned and symmetrical regularity on a ground covered with pure white sand.
Contemplating that magnificent arrangement of nature, he was profoundly touched by a sensation of discipline, elevation and cleanliness. He would preserve the memory of what he experienced on this occasion until the end of his life.
“The analogy which came to my spirit, while contemplating the bamboo grove, was of a perfect human order, like the rectilinear alignment of that arboreal wall. The bamboo tops, swaying at a great height, seemed to me to symbolize order and intransigence. […] The upright and dense grove evoked the impression of a squadron of warriors in battle array, raising their long sabres and seeming to touch the blue of the sky. And the sun, admiring and ceremonious, began to set over them, descending slowly and projecting shadows on the sand-covered ground. […] From another perspective, the evening lights of the still-little São Paulo of the time had extraordinary beauties and triumphal luminosities, which thrilled me to the core.”
Students in a gymnastics class next to the bamboo grove of St. Louis College – Photo: Library of St. Louis College
Another component further added to the beauty of this scene: “From time to time, a priest would stroll silently around the school, rosary in hand, meditatively, with black cassock and sash, wearing the classic biretta on his head. Another walked along the row of bamboos, peacefully and serenely praying his black-bound breviary. They would encounter each other in the courtyard, greet one another, and continue on their way.”
All of this dignity and composure was contrary to the disorder that would reign when the boys were there with their commotion and chaos, ill-treatment, egalitarianism and brutality.
A crusader of universal order
Plinio saw, then, the contrast between the order of nature and of the Church, in such accord with all that he loved, and, on the other side, the whole world immersed in sin. And he thought: “This is the order which God placed in the world! Order in the Church: the Jesuits praying, slowly and seriously. The order that God wished to reveal to man through nature: the bamboo grove, which also represents the past, because the persons who knew how to plant the bamboos in a straight line were not like this gang of boys… How I love this order!”
Called from his childhood to represent the order of the universe, he entered into full consonance and made himself one with the reflections of it that he encountered. There in the courtyard of the school, crying out for that order and desiring that all things be arranged in accordance with their purpose, he sensed an interior voice of grace, and said to himself, with full conviction: “Humanity is lost, and is heading towards a hecatomb. The day will come when the orderliness in creation will no longer tolerate the sins of men and will rise up to chastise them.”
Recess on the same courtyard, during the time Plinio studied there
Now, he did not arrive at this idea by hearing some prophecy, but rather led by his sense of being and discernment of spirits. This was the first movement of grace with regard to a future universal chastisement and an intervention of Providence that would convulse nature, transform humanity and implant order. And he even glimpsed what the conclusion would be of the events he foresaw: “I understood that this event would not be the end of time as such, but would bring about an era in which men would receive the final teachings before history came to a close, and I asked myself: ‘How will the earth be, on the day when sin is vanquished and people come to their senses?’ And I pondered: ‘The good that exists now will continue, but that future era will be much better than all of this, since it will comprise God’s rebuttal to evil. And the Church will be Queen!’”
And he immediately strengthened his resolution to fight for the good, like a crusader of universal order: “I will dedicate my life to working against chaos, and for the re-establishment of God’s order! I will be the soldier of this hope! But to call it a ‘hope’ is not enough. For me, it amounts to a certainty: the order of the universe will not allow itself to be defeated by evil!”
The clamour of creatures for the order of creation
It was an entirely theological principle formulated by a boy who lacked the knowledge of a learned man, but whose soul was filled with innocence, a sense of sanctity and a profound supernatural intuition with respect to the harmony of Creation.
In effect, among creatures, this order is established by God in such a way that a single sin is enough to reverberate through all of nature in something like a tremor of indignation, with the tendency to avenge the fault. And if the Angels did not hold back the stars, the oceans, the sands of the deserts, the animals and plant life, and if they did not maintain the earth in its orbit, everything would enter into convulsion and would tend to rise up against that sinner to annihilate him for having disrupted that order which must not be altered.2
When man abandons the Faith, rebelling against God or turning his back on Him and establishing a true image of hell on earth, the moment must come in which He withdraws His hand, so to speak, and allows nature to wreak its retribution. As a consequence, catastrophes begin to escalate. Dr. Plinio would later comment: “Catholic doctrine portrays an orderly universe, which leads to the certainty that all things ought to proceed towards this order or the world will end. For there is, as it were, a clamour of all of nature which cries out and begs God for vengeance whenever He is disobeyed.”
The message received and understood
Narrating these episodes, Dr. Plinio did not hesitate to acknowledge the supernatural aspect of what happened on that day as he contemplated the bamboo grove, and of the perceptiveness of his predictions of the world’s future. “I clearly recognize that it was, above all else, a fruit of grace; since for a child of that age to reach such profound conclusions, the simple resources of nature are inadequate. I am even inclined to admit that something of a mystical character had taken place.”
Indeed, such elevated reflections cannot be explained without the intense influence of mystical graces. It was 1920 or 1921, shortly after the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, and in the schoolyard of St. Louis College, a secret unknown to anyone was revealed to a young boy, concerning the chastisement to come and the conditions for the establishment of a historical era in which She would reign over the earth. While it is true that the three shepherd children spoke to the world in explicit declarations and made an invitation to humanity, it is also true that this particular boy was not only called to speak to the world, but to fight for the construction of a new world.
And that message, whose significance was perhaps not fully comprehended by the children at Cova da Iria, was perfectly understood by the boy in São Paulo, assisted by the gifts Providence lavished upon him. He loved this interior communication, adhered with his entire soul to the Holy Church, as well as to the order of the universe, attacked and wounded by sin, and once again said: “I will be against this world!”
Put in other terms, it could be said that, while She announced the triumph of her Immaculate Heart in Portugal, Our Lady was already preparing the fulfilment of this magnificent and prophetic design in Brazil. ◊
Taken, with slight adaptations, from:
O dom de Sabedoria na mente, vida e obra de
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
[The Gift of Wisdom in the Mind, Life and Work of
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira].
Città del Vaticano-São Paulo: LEV;
Lumen Sapientiæ, 2016, v.I, p.328-334
1 The facts narrated here took place when Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira was about twelve years of age.
2 Concerning the impact of sin on the order of the universe, it is thus explained by Pope Paul VI in the Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina of January 1, 1967: “Every sin in fact causes a perturbation in the universal order established by God in His ineffable wisdom and infinite charity, and the destruction of immense values with respect to the sinner himself as much as to the human community” (PAUL VI. Indulgentiarum doctrina, n. 2). The great exponent of Marian devotion St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, in his Fiery Prayer, also refers to this principle: “All creatures, even the most insensitive, lie groaning under the burden of Babylon’s countless sins and plead with Thee to come and renew all things: omnis creatura ingemiscit (cf. Rom 8:22)” (ST. LOUIS-MARIE GRIGNION DE MONTFORT. Prière Embrasée, n. 5. In: Œuvres Complètes. Paris: Du Seuil, 1966, p.677). Also eloquent in this respect is the passage from the Book of Wisdom that mentions the cooperation of inanimate creatures with God and His works: “Creation will join with Him to fight against the madmen. Shafts of lightning will fly with true aim, and will leap to the target as from a well-drawn bow of clouds, and hailstones full of wrath will be hurled as from a catapult; the water of the sea will rage against them and the rivers will relentlessly overwhelm them.” (5:20-22).