In Relation to Their Inferiors, the Role of Superiors Is To Be Like ‘Gods’ to Them

January 17, 2019

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Thomas Aquinas says precisely that inequalities among men, as well as other inequalities in nature, are images of the inequalities existing between the Creator and His creatures and that every superior being as such is an image of God to us. He shows us that the role of superiors in relation to inferiors is as ‘stand-ins’ for God. Not in the sense of being adored like God but of being, as it were, figures of God by their goodness, generosity, morality, strength and energy, thus acting like God does.

In this sense one can say they are images of God and—with a multitude of ‘as it were’—they are ‘gods’ in this sense of the word. Just as we can say of a statue of Our Lady that it is like Our Lady present among us. Of course a statue of Our Lady is nothing but an image made of wood or stone, but one can say it is, ‘as it were’ Our Lady present among us. It is in this sense that one can say that superiors are like God present among us.

True, there are other proofs of the existence of God; but these thousands of examples that God created of Himself make it convenient for man to conceive how God is. And it is precisely because of this that when men have a religious spirit they must cherish all hierarchies, all proportional and fitting inequalities, all well-founded inequalities not opposed to the natural law.

The Interior of the Capuchin Chapel In the Piazza Barberini after Francois Marius Granet 1821, painted by Thomas Sully.

So we understand that being against the French Revolution is not only opposing its dreadful anticlerical policies but doing so even if it had no directly anticlerical policy and other ominous policies.

From here comes our conception of the religious problem. The social question is above all a religious question: the problem of equality and inequality among men. And this explains the meaning of this [Vendean] uprising against the French Revolution.

You may say: Well, but if the Church teaches all this, will she not run the risk of not telling the powerful the strong words that must be said in order for them to exercise their power well?

Most Rev. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux

This reminds me of a sermon by Bossuet before Louis XIV. Bossuet was preaching about kings and the powerful of the earth. And with that fabulous rhetoric of his, he said: “Finally, before the King sitting on his throne – the Sun King, the most powerful king on earth – you are gods!” This naturally caused some suspense in the chapel because what does ‘you are gods’ mean? And he went on to say: ‘O gods of flesh and bone, dust and mud, be careful because you will be judged!’ All had been said.

Louis XIV did not blink; he heard, and all had been said. Likewise, I say: granted, they are gods of flesh and blood, of dust and mud and will indeed be judged; but they are images of God. To eliminate them is to do the work of atheism.


(Excerpt from a Saint of the Day, Monday, March 10, 1969 – translation)



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Previous post:

Next post: