Chapter 2 (Part 1) Pages 51 - 64
Messaging with a Truly Catholic Lady
Week 18 Questions
Gratitude, the forgotten virtue, was always remembered by Dona Lucilia. It is not possible to tell her story without including many incidents. At one point she urged Plinio to “lose no opportunity to show your gratitude and affection” to the priest with whom he traveled to Rio to meet with Catholic leaders.
Think also of the gratitude this priest, the Pastor who had given Rosee and Plinio their Catechism course and First Communion, must have felt to Dona Lucilia for having raised such a son. In the midst of that anti-religious time, Plinio – of course by his own efforts also – was a person with whom the priest could truly appreciate and enjoy the trip – stopping at the National Shrine and other places of importance and interest.
Probably children’s prayers are naturally petitions for things they want. Many of our prayers remain supplications for our needs. How important, though, is it to teach even little children to thank God for what we already have – even the food we eat. If this is neglected, a note of avarice robs their prayers of the innocence we must so try to protect.
It is the same throughout our lives. How can we remember to express thanksgiving, not just for favours received but for all of the good we enjoy – even life itself and the gift of being a Catholic?
Dona Lucilia expresses enthusiasm for the military “marches and counter marches” and looks forward to seeing her son in uniform. Plinio has entered the compulsory military service imposed on all eligible Brazilian young men at that time.
In that post World War I context, in some countries, “revolutionary minorities provoked bloodbaths.” For various reasons, Brazil avoided such a bloody confrontation, but through “political manoeuvring” transferred their conservative regime to the “Liberal Alliance” in the Revolution of 1930.
Though not an all-out revolution, there was much unease surrounding this change. Some were “justifiably alarmed by the grave news.” Dona Lucilia’s brother, looking to see her reaction, said that Plinio should start preparing for military mobilization because the state government would soon be recruiting all young men.
Dona Lucilia stated that her son would not go to such a war “not waged in defence of religion or a threatened country” but just a political move. If, however, it were a Crusade, Plinio would be the first to enter the battle and the first to “confront the enemy.” Such a “doting mother” so ready to “joyfully sacrifice her son for the Church.” What a perfect sentiment.
Are we willing and ready to sacrifice our most valued worldly possessions and even our lives for the greater glory of God and His Holy Church?
By 1929, Plinio was fully immersed in the work of the Catholic Movement. Each of Dona Lucilia’s letters contained prayers, blessings and mention of the Sacred Heart.
These, as we see, are serious people. Sometime later in his life, Dr. Plinio even composed a beautiful prayer for the virtue of seriousness.
Yet, Plinio regularly made use of some occasions for a bit of lightness. A perfect example is his play on the word for liver – “figado” to coin the word “figadorio” – liver saga, embracing but lightening the constant drama surrounding Dona Lucilia’s very serious condition.
At another time, in reply to Dona Lucilia’s loving advice regarding his health and safety, he assures her in a letter, for her “greater peace of mind” that he has been “absolutely prudent in the care of his health,” listing some of the many precautions he has taken, to the humorous extreme of having “refrained from rocking in chairs that are not rocking chairs.”
Dona Lucilia herself reported having some good laughs at an entertainment she attended.
Catholicism is, as we know, not grim or joyless. In our daily lives we can take advantage of the small events that often come along to provide a bit of lightness. How important do you think this is, and what are some legitimate entertainments that do not compromise the life of a Catholic?