Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (August 5, 2013): Mass on the World

My view praying "Mass on the World" at Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, WI (June 2012)

My view praying “Mass on the World” at Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh, WI (June 2012)

“Since once again, Lord — though this time not in the forests of the Aisne but in the steppes of Asia — I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world.

Over there, on the horizon, the sun has just touched with light the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again, beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and trembles, and once again begins its fearful travail. I will place on my paten, O God, the harvest to be won by this renewal of labour. Into my chalice I shall pour all the sap which is to be pressed out this day from the earth’s fruits.

My paten and my chalice are the depths of a soul laid widely open to all the forces which in a moment will rise up from every corner of the earth and converge upon the Spirit. Grant me the remembrance and the mystic presence of all those whom the light is now awakening to the new day.

One by one, Lord, I see and I love all those whom you have given me to sustain and charm my life. One by one also I number all those who make up that other beloved family which has gradually surrounded me, its unity fashioned out of the most disparate elements, with affinities of the heart, of scientific research and of thought. And again one by one — more vaguely it is true, yet all-inclusively — I call before me the whole vast anonymous army of living humanity; those who surround me and support me though I do not know them; those who come, and those who go; above all, those who in office, laboratory and factory, through their vision of truth or despite their error, truly believe in the progress of earthly reality and who today will take up again their impassioned pursuit of the light.

This restless multitude, confused or orderly, the immensity of which terrifies us; this ocean of humanity whose slow, monotonous wave-flows trouble the hearts even of those whose faith is most firm: it is to this deep that I thus desire all the fibres of my being should respond. All the things in the world to which this day will bring increase; all those that will diminish; all those too that will die: all of them, Lord, I try to gather into my arms, so as to hold them out to you in offering. This is the material of my sacrifice; the only material you desire.

Once upon a time men took into your temple the first fruits of their harvests, the flower of their flocks. But the offering you really want, the offering you mysteriously need every day to appease your hunger, to slake your thirst is nothing less than the growth of the world borne ever onwards in the stream of universal becoming.

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day.

This bread, our toil, is of itself, I know, but an immense fragmentation; this wine, our pain, is no more, I know, than a draught that dissolves. Yet in the very depths of this formless mass you have implanted — and this I am sure of, for I sense it — a desire, irresistible, hallowing, which makes us cry out, believer and unbeliever alike:

‘Lord, make us one.’”

— Teilhard de Chardin, “Mass on the World”

[Editor’s Note: The above is from the beginning of “Mass on the World”, one of Teilhard de Chardin’s most mystical and poetic writings.  You can find background on his writing “Mass on the World”, its relation to the Transfiguration and a link to the complete text of “Mass on the World” here.]

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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9 Responses to Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (August 5, 2013): Mass on the World

  1. claire46 says:

    Beautiful! Thank you. A great way to start the week.

  2. Good info. Where can I get extra information about this. hold it coming.

  3. Donna says:

    Ahh…some of Teilhadr’s best, and deepest. Thanks.

  4. cjreinhart says:

    Thank you for this reflection too!

  5. Thank you all for the kind words. Mass on the World is one of my favorite reflections. I remember feeling awestruck when I first read it. I also had the good fortune of praying it on retreat over several sunrises last summer when we were blessed with incredibly beautiful weather (see picture above). It was one of those rare moments when I felt exceptionally close to the Divine.

  6. Lynda says:

    Yes, this is one of my favourite reflections as well. I think of it at Mass and at times I find the entire concept overwhelming. Thank you.

  7. Pingback: Video of Georgetown Panel Discussion on Teilhard de Chardin’s Importance for the 21st Century | Teilhard de Chardin

  8. Pingback: Herbert O’Driscoll On Prayer | In A Spacious Place

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