1010. To Seminarian Stephen Delaude

I’ve just come back from the Sacrament of confession with a purified soul and with palpitating heart full of heavenly joy: therefore I send to you a word of love, of that kind of love which renders us, as I already told you quoting the Apostle Paul,115 consummati in unum.

I don’t have the time to make a word for word commentary on your letter as I would have wanted to do; maybe another time. For now, I will send you only a few disconnected thoughts as they cross my mind.

Youthful enthusiasm like ether when left in an unsealed vase, volatilizes and disappears. Therefore, we ought not to confuse the passing whims which are temporary with the persevering will which is therefore also efficacious. He who wavers in his convictions is always weak and inept: and vice versa. We must believe always uniformly, logically, and tenaciously. The great geniuses are useless; the great men of character are the ones who stir the world. Pico della Mirandola is much less of a person than Gregory VII.116  Descartes is nothing compared to a Vincent de Paul.117  Gioberti does not even come close to the glory of Pius IX.118

Napoleon had fixed idea which he used to call his faith. Pius VII119 also had his fixed idea which with greater reason he could call his faith. Let the philosophers say that man is able to do as much as he wants to do; we would rather say with the language of the scripture: Faith moves mountains.

A writer once said that every man in certain circumstances becomes pure power. Well, to think about it, men are like innumerable points on the periphery of a wheel and each one of them in turn reaches the highest tangential point. Using this truth as a basis, we can explain many things which would remain unexplainable in the conflict of human passions. I have a lot of notes in this regard but we can talk about it at length and at our leisure… We will then find the clue we need and see to it that the many potentialities which are out of focus or are simply wasted may come to produce their intended results. Be mindful of the fact that all comes down to mathematical precision and to the precision of a formula (of course, with the correct interpretations of the various relative values), and he who wants to sustain the contrary denies all natural, divine, and human laws which regulate with inalterable uniformity the created world which in substance is only a reflection of the Creator’s mind.

My dear friend Delaude, remember that we have to fight a great enemy in our modern society, a Hydra with a hundred heads. Asmodeus, the demon of concupiscence, breathes in the midst of youth. The enticements to sexual pleasures are the plague of the 19th century. If I were to list all the devices, all the sophisms of science, which prostitutes itself to the passions of the flesh… Oh, how many things: music, paintings, theater, etc.;…the chemical substances which act as stimulants… War, therefore, war to the death against Onanism, that is, the solitary sin, to plastic pictures in the human flesh, to photographic groups (made by the thousand and arranged in album form as one would in a progressive art course) to enervating and stimulating music, to lewd poems, to erogenous substances, etc. We can no longer point them out to public opinion for condemnation, since public opinion is affected by the same sickness. It is necessary to attack the malady at its roots. Oh, my dear, these things that I have seen with my own eyes and I can tell you about them through painful personal experience.

The time set aside for my studies is coming to an end and for now, I cannot tell you anything else. I am working on a program of common plans. I will tell you more and in detail about my convictions, my desires, and my hopes. But for now what is needed is faith, an unshakable faith, not an ephemeral but a sturdy will power, a strength of character which may resist all trials, all hardship. Serenity of mind which is above all passing annoyances, all the little inconveniences, all the useless occupations which through human weakness may come to worry us throughout the day.

When the goal has been set, let the world fall apart: We must keep our eyes on our goal always. Man is transformed by his will. Are we not aware of a certain divine quality within us that, in spite of the confusions of the flesh, lifts us up and sublimates us to the very core of our being? Don’t we have in certain moments of moral discouragement the power of rising suddenly through the word of a friend or through an act of generosity admired in secret, the power, I say, of rising suddenly to new hopes and sublime desires? Remember the verse of Dante: “just looking at you I myself am lifted up.”120

Let us take our inspiration from great models and let us act.

Goodbye. Pray, think, and love.

Your confrere, M.

  1. Cfr. Letter 9, note 102. 

  2. Pico della Mirandola (1463 — 1494), Italian humanist philosopher, famous for his precocious and vast learning. For Gregory VII, cfr. Letter 9, note 100. 

  3. Renè Descartes (1596 — 1650), French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, sometimes called the father of modern philosophy. St. Vincent de Paul (1581 — 1660), founder of the Congregation of the Mission, called Vincentians or Lazarists. His Daughters of Charity are also well known throughout the world. 

  4. For Gioberti, cfr. Letter 6, note 75. Pius IX (1792 — 1878), pope (1846 — 1878), whose pontificate, the longest in history, saw the promulgation of several dogmas and the loss of the Papal States. 

  5. Napoleon I (1769 — 1821), emperor of France, one of the greatest military commanders of all times. He conquered the larger part of Europe and sought to bring the pope to serve the interests of his empire. Pius VII (1740 — 1823), pope (1800 — 1823) who struggled with Napoleon to preserve the traditional prerogatives of the Church and its independence. Arrested by Napoleon, Pius VII was first kept prisoner in Savona (in the palace where Marello will later die) and in Fountainebleau, France. When Napoleon freed himin 1814, Pius VII returned to Rome and dedicated himself to the restoration of Papal authority there and in Europe 

  6. Cfr. Letter 5