By the time I first encountered Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in the late 1970s, he was relatively famous—at least in spirituality circles.
He’s been something of a hero to me since I’ve been old enough to think – and wonder – for myself. Long before I’d ever heard of quantum physics or the Theory of Everything, Teilhard’s words had a way of opening my mind to cosmic possibilities. ‘Here’s a guy,’ I thought, ‘who can see deep into things.’
Teilhard’s on my heart today, because April 10 is the anniversary of his death, on Easter Sunday in 1955. And here’s what’s intriguing about that date: Virtually all of the French Jesuit’s most acclaimed works were published posthumously. Teilhard’s insights were deemed dangerously out of touch with the theological mainstream in the first half of the 20th century – and he’d been denied permission to publish any of it.
So my ‘famous’ friend, it turns out, never had an inkling how his spiritual masterpieces might one day move hearts and make spirits soar. And perhaps that’s just as it should be…just as Teilhard would have wanted it…since he always put Christ at the center of his spiritual vision.
Still, as we keep his memory today, I think it would be fitting to shine a little spotlight on Teilhard and his words – so I’m going to close this posting with a few pertinent quotations from The Divine Milieu, one of his all-time classic works:
‘Humanity was sleeping—it is still sleeping—imprisoned in the narrow joys of its little closed loves. A tremendous spiritual power is slumbering in the depths of our multitude, which will manifest itself only when we have managed to break down the barriers of our egoisms…’
‘We have allowed the flame to die down in our sleeping hearts… how many of us are genuinely moved in the depths of our hearts by the wild hope that our earth will be recast? … We persist in saying that we keep vigil in expectation of the Master. But in reality we should have to admit, if we were sincere, that we no longer expect anything. The flame must be revived at all costs. At all costs we must renew in ourselves the desire and the hope for the great Coming.’
‘Those of us who are disciples of Christ must not hesitate to harness this force, which needs us, and which we need.’
‘In our hands, in the hands of all of us, the world and life are placed like a Host, ready to be charged with the divine influence, that is to say with a real presence of the incarnate Word.’
‘Faith consecrates the world.’