Saturday, January 26, 2013

Teilhard de Chardin and the Cosmic Christ

One could say that the whole of life lies in try to see more and to see better is not therefore, just a fantasy, curiosity or a luxury. See or perish. This is the situation imposed on every element of the Universe by the mysterious gift of existence. And thus to a higher degree this is the human condition. (Teilhard de Chardin-"The Human Phenomenon")

I find myself having to give a talk on the book "Hymn of the Universe" by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and so I am preparing. Teilhard is not easy to understand and so I keep rereading and reevaluating. Teilhard- Jesuit priest, philosopher, scientist (geologist, paleontologist) and mystic had keen powers of observation, he could truly "see" and understand.  I keep trying to "digest" parts of his work and thought in small amounts.  I've already done this once before and now I'm tackling "Christ in the World of Matter" which is a chapter in the book.
Teilhard called Christ, the Total Christ, the Cosmic Christ as well as the Universal Christ. He envisioned Christ as a "divine Being with a divine head connected to the body of the entire Universe, all of it living in a sea of divine love." I am a deep person but this is very deep material. But I like it because it's challenging and I also like it because I believe that Teilhard knew what he was talking about, genius that he was.
St. Paul put it this way-"Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible...all things have been created through Him and for Him. He himself is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col. 1: 15-17).
Teilhard died in New York City in April 1955. He was 73 years old. During his lifetime, he was a controversial figure in the Church but he has been vindicated and his thought even supported by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. In John Paul's encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia he wrote, " the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it.......This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic. Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation......."
Pope Benedict in his homily on July 24th, 2009 said this, "The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy; so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin; in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host....."
I say Amen to that!

(Fr. Peter Schineller, S.J., gave the first talk on Teilhard in the series and the above quotes (from John Paul II and Pope Benedict) came from material he gave out during that lecture. I thought I should note that.)