Teilhard de Chardin

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ (1881 – 1955)

 You might have seen this blog before, as I originally posted it last summer.  A mysterious technical problem arose, resulting in my receiving dozens of comments that were about other topics, all with the Teilhard de Chardin heading. Perhaps there was a better way to handle this, but my solution was to temporarily take it offline by making it a Draft. That stopped the irrelevant and weird comments, but I didn’t want to keep it offline forever.
(Discussion/Reflection questions are at the end.)images
I recently had a conversation with a person who gave, as an example of someone who had wasted his life’s energy writing obscure books, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Well, one man’s opinion. 
My take on Teilhard is that his writings, though misunderstood by those in authority (who warned the faithful about them as lately as 1981) have probably influenced the lives and thinking of all Christians exploring science and religion, matter and spirit, faith and the Universe Story. If you’ve been impacted by Thomas Berry or Mary Evelyn Tucker, or many others who share a similar vision, you have experienced the influence of this French Jesuit. Many of my contemporaries— and possibly the present reader —  were thrilled by reading  his manuscripts in their youth. Most of us have read at least one of his books. Many are familiar with quotes from him and have experienced over time the wisdom his words hold. They are profound, they are challenging, they are pregnant with life and love. 
Of possible interest to SHCJ: Soeur Marie St. Jean Teillard-Chambon, SHCJ, was a cousin of Pierre!

 FOLLOWS IS A SAMPLING OF QUOTES: The first two are a transition from my last blog, about exploration into God.
I am more and more convinced that the great event of our time is a kind of change in the face of God in which the pure “God of above” of yesterday is being combined with a kind of “God of ahead.” 
Not “God who is dying,” as Nietzsche said, but “God who is changing.”
To those who know how to see, nothing is profane. 
By his Incarnation [Christ] inserted himself not just into humanity but into the universe which supports humanity.
The consciousness of each of us is evolution looking at itself and reflecting upon itself. (I heard that first from Miriam Therese MacGillis, OP, in 1979. It sailed high over my head, but somehow I felt called to comprehend it. This took me well-spent years!)
Because it is not sufficiently moved by a truly human compassion, because it is not exalted by a sufficiently passionate admiration of the universe, our religion is becoming enfeebled.
(That was written in 1918!)
 [About the “other” who usually appears a danger, nuisance, and obstacle:] I shall like them as soon as I see them as partners in the struggle.
 Do not brace yourself against suffering. Try to close your eyes and surrender yourself as if to a great loving energy. This attitude is neither weak nor absurd, it is the only one that cannot lead us astray. 
Unquestionably, Jesus is still he who bears the sins of the world; in its own mysterious way suffering makes reparation for moral evil . . . The full and ultimate meaning of redemption is no longer seen to be reparation alone, but rather further passage and conquest. 
images-2The presence of the Incarnate Word penetrates like a universal element. It shines at the heart of all things.
There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.
Love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world.
The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation,
we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.
A prayer
When the signs of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind);
when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within me;
 when the painful moment comes in which I suddenly awaken to the fact that I am ill or growing old;
and above all at that last moment when I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive
within the hands of the great unknown forces
 that have formed me;
in all those dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is you 
(provided only my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibres of my being
in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself.
Possible discussion/reflection starters:
I had hoped to keep the quotation list brief, but I was unable to do so. Which one(s) might you have omitted and why? images-1
If you had to limit them to three, which ones would you have chosen and why?
If you have a favorite that is missing, please add it to the comments!
If you have found “communion with others who have a large vision,” how do you nurture it?
For more, see 
Blanche Gallagher’s Meditations with Teilhard de Chardin, Bear and Company, 1988
Arthur Fabel, Donald St. John, ed., Teilhard in the 21st Century: The Emerging Spirit
of Earth, Orbis, 2003
Any book written by Teilhard  (The Phenomenon of Man is now titled The Human Phenomenon.)

45 thoughts on “Teilhard de Chardin

  1. Thank you so much,Terri, for posting these wonderful quotes from Teilhard De Chardin. Among them is one that has been a favorite of mine for a long time. “…we shall harness for God the energies of love…” was hung up next to my desk, when I was working.
    Recently, I went back to my copy of Blanche Gallagher’s Meditations. I bookmarked this one that really resonated with me now:
    “Christ is in the Church, the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun that our fathers saw and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent

    Blessings on you and on your efforts here.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for a wonderful post. I always enjoy quotes from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. He was extremely influential in my own spiritual journey and I have started a blog devoted to his ideas and spirituality (www.teilhard.com). One of the features is a Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week:-).

    In addition to your outstanding list, here is one of my favorite short quotes and one of my favorite short prayers from Teilhard de Chardin:

    “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”


    “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

    We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

    And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.

    And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

    Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”

    Liked by 2 people

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  16. In 1958 I first read Le Milieu Divin. Since then I have reread that work and several others written by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin a number of times. I also studied The Human Phenomenon in San Francisco at the IISC in 2010. The work of Brian Swimme is also greatly influenced by Teilhard. There is so much of Teilhard’s work that I would like to remember and quote that I compiled a week of Liturgy of the hours morning and evening prayer from his works. It is profound and provocatively wonder-filled to pray with these each day.


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