Teilhard de Chardin: Further Thoughts on the Christian Mass

Teilhard speaks of the “supersubstantial Word” that is co-terminal with the cosmos itself.

Universal incarnation: The National Cathedral’s Space Window, with a lunar fragment collected during the Apollo 11 mission. Photo by Bill VanderMolen for the GPA Photo Archive, on Flickr.

The universe is the subject of the Eucharist–it is all a continued outpouring of the Incarnation, call it the continuous Incarnation.  “Through your own incarnation, my God, all matter is henceforth incarnate,” exclaims Teilhard.  “The immense host which is the universe is made flesh.”

Food, food, everywhere.  Divine food, divine food, “this is my body,” everywhere.  The Cosmic Christ—or Buddha Nature or Image of God–permeates the universe.

“The Cosmic Christ” by Ullrrich Javier Lemus. Reprinted with permission.

For Teilhard, communion is not with the self but with the Self.  The Real Presence.  As he puts it,

Grant, Lord, that your descent into the universal Species… may become for me truly a real Presence….I firmly believe that everything around me is the body and blood of the Word.

And this is his prayer: “That in every creature I may discover and sense you, I beg you: give me faith.”  Faith for Teilhard is finding the Divine in every creature, i.e. the Cosmic Christ everywhere.  Panentheism—all in God and God in all things.

Teilhard declares a stark connection between the Eucharist and evil or shadow when he prays:

My communion would be incomplete—would, quite simply, not be Christian—if, together with the gains which the new day brings me, I did not also accept, in my own name and in the name of the world as the most immediate sharing in your own being, those processes, hidden or manifest, of enfeeblement, of aging, of death, which unceasingly consume the universe, to its salvation or its condemnation.  My God, I deliver myself up with utter abandon to those fearful forces of dissolution which, I blindly believe, will this day cause my narrow ego to be replaced by your divine presence.    

Forces of dissolution and resurrection: Wildfire in Torino Italy, photo by  marco allasio from Pexels; Understory regrowth, Yellowstone; photo by J Klinger on Flickr.

We do not escape the forces of dissolution but we can incorporate them in our greater prayer.

He prays:

I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world.

Teilhard sees in the Eucharist a reminder of the ever-present shadow in life.  The bread/body speaks to the divine glory everywhere but the wine/blood speaks to the suffering everywhere as well.

“Grace” by Eric Enstrom, 1918. On Wikimedia Commons.

Over every living thing which is to spring up, to grow, to flower, to ripen during this day say again the words: This is my Body.  And over every death-force which waits in readiness to corrode, to wither, to cut down, speak again your commanding words which express the supreme mystery of faith: This is my Blood.   

Teilhard manages to reset the Christian Mass into a thoroughly cosmic context.  Matter is sacred everywhere.  Since all food is cosmic and born of the sun and photosynthesis, sharing a meal of bread and wine renders the universe both holy and intimate.  What is more intimate than eating food and drinking drink whether together or alone?

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., citations from Hymn of the Universe, pp. 24, 27f., 29, 31f., 19, 23.

Adapted from Matthew Fox and Marc Andrus, Stations of the Cosmic Christ, p. 173. 

See also, Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, pp. 211-227.

Banner Image: Harvesting the rice, Mae Hong Son, Thailand. Photo by Boudewijn Huysmans on Unsplash.

Do you see in this meditation and yesterday’s how Teilhard’s understanding of the Cosmic Christ puts whole new meaning and energy into the Christian practice of liturgy and Eucharist?

Resurrection Logic: How Jesus’ First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead

Bruce Chilton investigates the Easter event of Jesus in Resurrection Logic. He undertakes his close reading of the New Testament texts without privileging the exact nature of the resurrection, but rather begins by situating his study of the resurrection in the context of Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Syrian conceptions of the afterlife. He then identifies Jewish monotheistic affirmations of bodily resurrection in the Second Temple period as the most immediate context for early Christian claims. Chilton surveys first-generation accounts of Jesus’ resurrection and finds a pluriform–and even at times seemingly contradictory–range of testimony from Jesus’ first followers. This diversity, as Chilton demonstrates, prompted early Christianity to interpret the resurrection traditions by means of prophecy and coordinated narrative.

The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance

In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.

Upcoming Events

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1 thought on “Teilhard de Chardin: Further Thoughts on the Christian Mass”

  1. Avatar
    Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer

    Science, Hinduism and the New Age got it right: There is no matter in creation, it is all just energy that is light.

    “Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.” ― Albert Einstein

    “If someone sees an elephant moving around in the air, it would be said that what he is seeing is an illusion or hallucination; but to him the perception is real. Maya is the mass hypnosis of God by which He makes every human being believe in the same illusory “reality” of creation perceived by the senses.” — Paramahansa Yogananda

    Maya is the principle of relativity, inversion, contrast, duality, oppositional states; the “Satan” (lit., in Hebrew, “the adversary”) of the Old Testament prophets; and the “devil” whom Christ described picturesquely as a “murderer” and a “liar,” because “there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). Maya is Nature herself—the phenomenal worlds [the creation], ever in transitional flux as antithesis to Divine Immutability. — Paramahansa Yogananda

    “The Universe is called, with everything in it, MAYA, because all is temporary therein, from the ephemeral life of a fire-fly to that of the Sun. Compared to the eternal immutability of the ONE.” — Helena Blavatsky, the mother of the New Age Movement

    Modern science has discovered that the various material elements are nothing more than differently vibrating atoms. The universe is a cosmic motion picture of dancing atoms, which in turn are energy-sparks—not matter at all but vibratory waves. — Paramahansa yogananda

    My body and your bodies and all things in this world are only rays of light [light is energy] streaming out of that one sacred Light. As I see that Light I behold nothing anywhere but pure Spirit. — Paramahansa Yogananda

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