Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (July 28, 2014): Universe and Incarnation

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“To make men see and make them feel — that is my first aim: to make an impassioned profession of my faith int he richness and value of the world and so vindicate myself against those who smile and shake their heads when they hear talk of an ill-defined nostalgia for something hidden within us which transcends and fulfills us — to win the day again them by showing them beyond all possible doubt that their self-sufficient individual personality is but a wisp of straw in the grip of forces they seek to shut their eyes to, forces that, when we speak of building up a temple to them, they dismiss as laughable. If a man is to come up to his full measure, he must become conscious of his infinite capacity for carrying himself still further; he must realize the duties it involves, and he must feel its intoxicating wonder. He must abandon all the illusions of narrow individualism and extend himself, intellectually and emotionally, to the dimensions of the universe. . . 

I am not directly concerned with science, nor philosophy, nor apologetics. Primarily, I am concerned to express an impassioned vision. I shall limelight — though I shall not go out of my way to condemn — the crisis (always the accompaniment of a new awakening) that is now becoming acute in men’s minds and hearts; simply as an observer in the first place. I shall watch the birth and development, in the depths of individual souls or in the turmoil of the masses, of the cosmic temptation; the homage paid to the golden calf, the incense rising up to the peak of human pride. . . I shall allow another picture to emerge — at first in apparent opposition to the dreams of the Earth, but in reality to complete and correct them — that of the inexpressible Cosmos of matter and of the new life, the Body of Christ, real and mystical, unity and multiplicity, monad and pleiad. And, like a man who surrenders himself to a succession of different melodies, I shall let the song of my life drift now here, now there — sink down to the depths, rise to the heights above us, turn back to the ether from which all things came, reach out to the more-than-man, and culminate in the incarnate God-man.”

– Teilhard de Chardin, Writings in Time of War, pp. 15-16

 

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Sunday Reflection, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 27, 2014): The Kingdom of God as a Priceless Treasure

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“Is the Kingdom of God a big family? Yes, in a sense it is. But another sense it is a prodigious biological operation- that of the Redeeming Incarnation.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (courtesy of Fr. Don Jose Nyamunga)

This weekend in the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The readings can be found here.   We continue the wonderful parables on the Kingdom of God from the Gospel of Matthew. The analogies on the Kingdom of God in today’s Gospel include the treasure buried in the field and the pearl of great price. 

Today’s reflection comes from Fr. Don Jose Nyamunga, author of the wonderful blog “Understand Your Faith“.  You can read the entire reflection here but set forth below is an extended excerpt:

“Built into the word ‘treasure’ is the notion of something hidden – but also waiting to be found. I guess this is why the word treasure is so alluring; it’s an invitation to adventure, to seeking. Some would say the adventure itself is a kind of treasure; we learn so much from the journey. Most treasure just makes us richer; it only ‘incrementally’ changes our lives. The treasure Jesus is speaking of changes everything; it is the greatest treasure in existence.

The man of the gospel finds the treasure (I wonder if he was looking for it?), and he hides it again. It seems the treasure belongs in the field and he can only own the treasure if he owns the field.

The man goes off happy. Look at the smile on his face and the bounce in his step! But where is he going? He’s going off to sell everything he owns so he can buy the field. Can you believe it? Everything he owns!

There is another man in another gospel who is offered the treasure by Jesus himself. He too has to sell everything he owns but he doesn’t, he can’t. He goes away sad because ‘he was a man of great wealth’ (Mk 10).

Perhaps the difference was that the first man discovered the treasure for himself and had a personal experience of its beauty and worth, while the other was offered a treasure he couldn’t yet see and therefore didn’t understand. We can only hope that one day he would have the experience. At any rate, it seems there is something about the treasure which judges a man; something which discovers the true orientation and ‘attachments’ of his heart.

* * *

One of our most beloved possessions, I think, is the control we exercise the direction of our lives, in other words, our plans for ourselves. We all have them. They are the pathways to the treasure we imagine we want. Our plans lead to the place where we think our happiness is to be found, and all too often our treasure, and the happiness we imagine it will bring, has little to do with God’s plans.

The fulfilment of our plans usually depends on external circumstances; things have to go right. God’s treasure is not like that. God’s treasure is entirely within us and in order to reach this place we have to entirely abandon our plans. We have to surrender our plans to his, even when things appear to be going wrong.

The man in the gospel glimpsed the treasure and hurried off eagerly to set himself free from all that had now suddenly become worthless to him. It would be a wonderful thing if such a sea-change could be definitively made in a person’s life with no second thoughts or clumsy stumbles. Unfortunately, the temptation to take back what we have given is always present; we are so attached to the earthly.

But then we are dealing with a God who understands all that, and who works with us so that our goal of total possession of both field and treasure may one day be realised.

Patiently, every now and then, at a time of his choosing he takes from us one or other little trinket, some little plan we had been hiding from him and clinging to. Each time he does so he gives us another opportunity to renew our commitment to both the journey and the goal.”

Read Full Reflection

Other Reflections:

Living Space
Creighton Online Ministries
Fr. Robert Barron Podcast

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Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles

William Ockham:

Reblog from last year on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen.

Originally posted on Teilhard de Chardin:

St. Mary Magdalene

St. Mary Magdalene

Our July celebration of Hall of Fame of Saints continues today with the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene.  St. Mary Magdalene holds a special place both in Christian and world history. According to three of the four Gospels, she was the first eyewitness to the most important historical event in the history of the world; the Risen Christ first appeared to her.  Mary Magdalene then spread this news to the eleven apostles and other disciples of Jesus and is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles”.

While accurate historical information on Mary Magdalene is limited, we do know that she was a close disciple of Jesus.  In his apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem from August 1988, Blessed John Paul II praised Mary Magdalene’s special role as being the first witness to the Resurrection:

The women are the first at the tomb. They are the first to find it empty. They are…

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The Death of Egoism and Union With God

Stage 1. Ego separated from the Unconscious and from God. (c) Philip St. Romain

Stage 1. Ego separated from the Unconscious and from God.
(c) Philip St. Romain

“The death of egoism is to understand that one is an element in a universe that personalizes itself by [God uniting Himself with us and us responding to His call]. So it is no longer oneself that one loves in oneself. ” — Teilhard de Chardin, On Suffering, p. 55 (Harper Collins 1975) (courtesy of Yurii C. Ramos at The Teilhard Project) [editorial modifications in brackets]

 

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Sunday Reflection, 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 20, 2014): Wheat and Weeds

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Am I living my life as a weed or a stalk of wheat ? (See Matthew 13:24-30).

This weekend is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings can be found here. The reflection comes from Living Space run by the Irish Jesuits and has a wonderful discussion of today’s Gospel and the meaning of the phrases “Kingdom of God” and “Kingdom of Heaven” and how it applies to our individual lives. I encourage you to read the entire reflection here but set forth below is an extended summary:

Nature of the ‘Kingdom’

“Kingdom” in the Gospel does not refer to a place, either here or hereafter. The Greek word basileia (basileia) is better translated as ‘kingship’, or ‘reign’, or ‘rule’, so some translations speak of the ‘Reign of God’. The Kingdom is primarily an environment, it is a set of relationships, it is a situation where God’s values prevail. And what are God’s values? In practice, they are the deepest human values and aspirations as mirrored in the life of Jesus, who is himself the revelation of God to us in accessible human form. These values include truth, love, compassion, justice, a sense of solidarity with all other human beings, a sense of trust in other, a deep respect for the dignity of every other human person, a holistic concept of human growth and development. And, of course, all these are seen in the light of God, who is their Ultimate Source. It is to be like him and with him that we live according to these values. They, with and through Jesus, are our link with Him.

People who, individually and collectively, try to live these values belong, with Jesus, to the Kingdom of God. They are united with the rule of God in trying to build a world we would all like to see happen. It is very much something for the here and now. It is basically the vocation of the Church, and therefore the vocation of every parish community and of every member of that community. At the same time, we need to recognise that the Kingdom and the Church are not co-terminous (cf. the parable below). The Kingdom extends beyond the Church. There certainly are people, who may not explicitly know Christ or express allegiance to Christ, who yet live the ideals and the values of the Kingdom in their lives. Prophetic characters like Mahatma Gandhi or the Dalai Lama must surely be such examples. On the other hand, we cannot say we belong to the Kingdom simply because we are baptised Church members but only in so far as the vision of the Kingdom is an effective factor of our daily living.

Weeds and wheat

In today’s Gospel reading we have three images or parables of the Kingdom at work among us. The first is the parable of the weeds among the wheat. The Kingdom of God clearly calls for people of the highest ideals and great generosity. It also calls for a great measure of tolerance, patience and understanding in seeing the Kingdom become a reality. The conversion of our societies into Kingdom-like communities is a very gradual process. There is always the danger that, when people try to take God or the good life seriously, they become elitist. We Christians, simply as Christians, can feel superior to people of other religions or none. As Catholics we can talk disparagingly of Anglicans, Protestants, Evangelicals. And even among Catholics, members of charismatic groups, Legionaries, Bible study groups, social action groups can see themselves as ‘superior’ to ‘ordinary’ Catholics who ‘only’ go to Mass on Sundays. And the Sunday mass-goers are a cut above those who only appear at the Christmas midnight Mass.

And, in general, we ‘decently moral people’ are ahead of the ‘thugs’, ‘louts’ and other ‘undesirables’ in our society. “Shoot the yobbos” screamed a headline on a newspaper front page some time ago. Both “shoot” and “yobbo” are words of violence and intolerance. We sanctimoniously set ourselves up as judges of others. It is a trend which is increasingly being found in our daily press and television, and they presumably reflect the interests and values of readers and viewers (among whom one can, alas, find “good” Catholics).

Living side by side

Hence, today’s parable far from being remote touches on deep areas in the lives of all of us. The parable is saying that people who are filled with the vision and values of God and Jesus must learn to live side by side with a whole spectrum of people who, in varying degrees, do not yet share or live this vision and these values. This applies to differences between Christians and non-Christians but also within Christian communities themselves. We are – and always will be – a sinful Church. To pretend that we are anything else is a lie. It is not the healthy who need the physician Jesus but the sinners and tax collectors. You and me.

We can go even further. Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds. In each one of us there are elements of the Kingdom and elements that are deeply opposed to it. Paul recognised that struggle within himself (cf. Romans 7:21-25). So we need to learn how to be tolerant with our own weaknesses. God told Paul that it was precisely through his weaknesses that he could reveal his glory. “My power is made perfect in [your] weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The coming of the Kingdom then is not going to be a neat and tidy process. And experience again and again confirms that fact, whenever we try to bring out change and reforms in any community.

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From The Teilhard Project: Teilhard de Chardin on Suffering

suffering

During his life, Teilhard de Chardin endured and witnessed a large amount of suffering from losing several siblings at a young age, to witnessing the physical suffering due to the carnage of World War I,to the mental anguish of having his visionary writings censored by his superiors.  And yet, Teilhard de Chardin is most known for his optimistic grand synthesis of traditional Christianity and modern science.

Recently, Yurii Ramos wrote an outstanding guest blogpost at The Teilhard Project quoting sum of Teilhard’s writings on suffering. I encourage you to read the entire blogpost here but set forth below is an excerpt:

“Suffering, although not a central theme in Teilhard de Chardin, is a very significant and effective one. It opens ones eyes toward one of the most beguiling of human mysteries. . . . Should those who suffer be jealous of those who are not suffering as they are? The obscure, the useless, the failures, should take joy in the superiority of the others whose triumph they lend support to or pay for.”

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Jesuit Guy Consolmagno Wins Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society

 

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. at the intersection of faith and science

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. at the intersection of faith and science

As readers know, I am a big fan of astronomer and Jesuit Guy Consolmagno.  I was delighted to learn that he won the prestigious Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society this week.  Set forth below is an excerpt from the Jesuit website:

Because of his unique perspective as both a scientist and a man of faith, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno has been awarded the Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

 The Division for Planetary Sciences of the AAS, which gives the award to one individual each year, chose Br. Consolmagno because he “occupies a unique position within our profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief.” The award is named after the late astronomer Carl Sagan, who was a popular author and writer of the 1980 television series “Cosmos.”

* * *

“As a Jesuit Brother, Guy has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers,” the AAS wrote.

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You can find interviews with Guy Consolmagno, SJ below:

Intersection on Faith and Science
Vatican Astronomers Contemplate God and Science
Meeting Point of Science and Religion
Asteroids, Stars and the Love of God

 

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