Sunday Reflection, The Ascension (June 1, 2014): The Divine Milieu


This Sunday, parts of the Church celebrate the Feast of the Ascension.  The readings can be found here.

Today’s reflection comes from Drew Christiansen, S.J., former editor of America Magazine.  You can find the full reflection here but set forth below is an extended summary:

It was the Feast of the Ascension, and I was searching for a half-remembered quotation for my homily at the evening Mass.  I remembered it appearing in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “The Divine Milieu. . . . I had to list a handful of books that have influenced my life, “The Divine Milieu” would be at the top. I read it in the early 1960s, just as the Second Vatican Council was taking place. I inhaled its intoxicating this-worldly mysticism. I was strengthened by its explanation of the spiritualization of our activities, not a strong suit in the penitential spirituality of the post-Suppression (1773-1814) Jesuits.

“The Divine Milieu” offered a symphony of themes that echoed the masters of Western spirituality, the Bible—especially St. Paul—and the divine liturgy. As in monastic theology, phrases, mostly in Latin, dot the text, displaying a mind that has imbibed the Scripture in lectio divina, been formed by the recitation of the liturgy and is practiced in savoring the meaning of the simplest phrase. At the same time, there are passages that read like scholastic responsa, staking out Teilhard’s own orthodox mystical position against heretical alternatives sometimes ascribed to him. All the same, the book reads like a prose poem.

The Divine Milieu is a whole spirituality for the whole person from a Jesuit who found his identity at the heart of the church, even though as a paleontologist he worked at the farthest edges of its mission. “This little book,” he wrote, “does no more than recapitulate the eternal lesson of the church in the words of a man who, because he believes himself to feel deeply in tune with his own times, has sought to teach how to see God everywhere, to see him in all that is most hidden, most solid and most ultimate in the world.” Like St. Ignatius Loyola, the Jesuit founder, he sought “to find God in all things” and to teach others to do the same.

Sometimes I think of “The Divine Milieu” as the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius’ classic manual of the spiritual life, re-worked for modern times. The whole book is an extrapolation of Ignatius’ “Contemplation to Attain Divine Love.”

Read Full Article

Other Resources (with many thanks to Louis Savary 🙂

Explanation of “The Divine Milieu”
Free Online Version of “The Divine Milieu”
“The Divine Milieu” explained  website by Louis Savary
“The Divine Milieu Explained” Book by Louis Savary
“Spiritual Exercises for the 21st Century” by Louis Savary

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 ( 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 Sunday Reflection, The Ascension (June 1, 2014): The Divine Milieu

  1. claire46 says:

    Ah, what a treat! What a treat! Thank you!

  2. Equipping The Saints says:

    Thanks for the information on Ascension Sunday. Please have a blessed day.

    Senior Pastor, Equipping The Saints
    Philippians 3:10 “That I May Know Him”

    • Thank you for the comment and for the link. I am enjoying looking at your outstanding blog.

      W. Ockham

      • Equipping The Saints says:

        Thank you. You are very kind. Always know that I am a great appreciator of the information that the things that you put in your blog posts. Blessings to you.

  3. Michael says:

    I followed the link and read to the end, and was glad I did. This quote jumped out at me, in comparing Teilhard’s writing to those of Ignatius: “What is strikingly different is that Teilhard does not dwell on the life and death of Jesus the way Ignatius did. The Christ of The Divine Milieu is the cosmic Christ of St. Paul, the glorified Christ as the fullness of creation to be united with God at the end of time.” I like the notion of a cosmic Christ. And I wonder if the end of time is not the moment of recognition and acceptance of this cosmic Christ as all around us, here and now.


    • Michael:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree with you that the Cosmic Christ, as articulated in St. Paul and St. John, is very compelling. I especially like Teilhard’s concept of The Divine Milieu as that seems to encompass God surrounding us and us being in God (“In him we live and move and have our being” — Acts 17:28).

      I would encourage you to check out the works of Louis Savary as well. He is a former Jesuit and Teilhard scholar who does an outstanding job of making Teilhard more accessible to the 21st century reader.

      Have a great weekend!

      W. Ockham

  4. Lynda says:

    I agree that I appreciate the Cosmic Christ as well. We are all influenced by the culture of the time and St. Ignatius is no exception. He embraced what spoke to him at that place in time. We are blessed to have both St. Ignatius’ and Teilhard’s inspired writings on which to reflect. God will use these to speak to each of us individually. Thank you, William, for bringing us such food for thought.

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