Teilhard de Chardin on the Redemption Suffering of the Passion

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The following was written based upon his experience witnessing the carnage of trench warfare in World War I:

What a vast ocean of human suffering spreads over the entire earth at every moment! Of what is this mass formed? Of blackness, gaps, and rejections. No, let me repeat, of potential energy. In suffering, the ascending force of the world is concealed in a very intense form. The whole question is how to liberate it and give it a consciousness of its significance and potentialities.

The world would leap high toward God if all the sick together were to turn their pain into a common desire that the kingdom of God should come to rapid fruition through the conquest and organization of the earth. All the sufferers of the earth joining their sufferings so that the world’s pain might become a great and unique act of consciousness, elevation, and union. Would not this be one of the highest forms that the mysterious work of creation could take in our sight?

Could it not be precisely for this that the creation was completed in Christian eyes by the Passion of Jesus? We are perhaps in danger of seeing on the cross only an individual suffering, a single act of expiation. The creative power of that death escapes us. Let us take a broader glance, and we shall see that the cross is the symbol and place of an action whose intensity is beyond expression. Even from the earthly point of view, the crucified Jesus, fully understood, is not rejected or conquered. It is on the contrary he who bears the weight and draws ever higher toward God the universal march of progress. Let us act like him, in order to be in our existence united with him. (“The Significance and Positive Value of Suffering,” quoted in Human Energy, HarperCollins)

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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4 Responses to Teilhard de Chardin on the Redemption Suffering of the Passion

  1. “In suffering, the ascending force of the world is concealed in a very intense form. The whole question is how to liberate it and give it a consciousness of its significance and potentialities.”

    This Passion Week, I’ve been reflecting on this same theme of worldwide suffering. It’s not clear to me how we can achieve “a great and unique act of consciousness, elevation, and union” that Chardin speaks of.

    • Hi Rosaliene:

      Keep the Faith. I agree with you often the future looks bleak but one of the things I love about the Easter Triduum is the swift change in emotions and the Resurrection and the evolution into future dimensions of existence occur at times when it seems to be the bleakest.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

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