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St. Peter Damian – February 23

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection:

St. Peter Damian, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church (1007-1072). He fought the heresy of simony and spread the use of discipline and penance. Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, Italy.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

A painting of St. Peter Damian

St. Peter Damian

St. Peter Damian disseminated the custom of receiving the discipline. Spreading this practice was, in my opinion, one of the greatest services that he could do for the Church.

For, by doing this, he disseminated the spirit of penance, which is, in many senses, more important than the moral humiliation and the physical pain that come with the discipline. The spirit of penance is the comprehension of and adhesion to the principles that penance is based upon.

These are the principles: Since man is conceived in original sin, he needs to combat his unrestrained passions and instincts. He is a sinner, and sin is an offense to the justice of the Divine Majesty, which demands that reparation be made. This reparation must be a suffering proportionate to the offense committed.

Often this offense is an illicit pleasure the person took. Just as a thief who steals money is obliged to make restitution, the person who steals some illicit pleasure to which he did not have the right before Divine Providence, must also make restitution, to restore balance to the scales of Divine Justice. A person who has the spirit of penance understands the gravity of his sins.

Further, even when no sin has been committed, penance is useful to break the bad inclinations of the flesh and the tendency to revolt of human pride.

The modern man abhors penance and, even more, the spirit of penance. If you go to a movie, read a novel or just enter a modern ambience, you see that this notion of penance is miles away. On the contrary, invitations to exacerbate human pride and sensuality are present everywhere.

One of the characteristics of the counter-revolutionary man or woman is to have the spirit of penance. The spread of the use of the discipline, hair shirts and similar things is valuable, because they help us to form a state of mind that is suspicious of ourselves and prepared to fight against our bad inclinations.


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Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.

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