Teilhard was accused of being “too pagan.”  I was criticized for “working too closely with Native Americans.”  (I think that might be a criticism of our having a sweat lodge on Holy Names College campus but I cannot be sure since Cardinal Ratzinger never spelled it out for me.)

Sweat lodge. Photo by Hvoenok, Adobe Stock

Of course, we also taught Native American spirituality courses conducted by Lakota teacher Buck Ghosthorse and by Seneca teacher and Franciscan sister, Jose Hobday.

 Of course, Aquinas was criticized for bringing the “pagan” scientist Aristotle into the heart of Christian faith.  His response?  “Revelation has been made to many pagans” and “the old pagan virtues were from God.”   And “Every truth without exception—and whoever may utter it–is from the Holy Spirit.”

Teilhard talked about “how to see God everywhere.”  If that is not creation spirituality, I don’t know what is.  The Four Paths help us to “see God everywhere” in all our deepest feelings and encounters and dreams and ruptures.  And in our work both inner and outer. 

A prayer and visual meditation on Teilhard’s teaching of the Divine Milieu. Zoomi’s Prayers

When Teilhard speaks of “the Divine Milieu,” he is surely speaking of panentheism, God in us and us in God, God in all things and all things in God.  A “Milieu” displaces theism or subject/object relations with the divine.

Teilhard criticized organized religion and sensed a difference between what we call spirituality and what we call religion.

In fact, he warned about the “enfeeblement” of contemporary religion (he was writing of course in the first half of the 20th century).  He said: Because it is not sufficiently moved by a truly human compassion, because it is not exalted by a sufficiently passionate admiration of the universe, our religion is becoming enfeebled.

The tech-cave: unplugged from nature with the Milky Way onscreen. Photo by Kaur Kristjan on Unsplash

We are too cut off from awe and wonder and a “passionate admiration of the universe” because we are too anthropocentric, living our lives entirely in our man-made worlds.  It follows that we lack a “truly human compassion,” being cut off from our deepest roots, which derive from “the nutritious energies of the Earth.”

A solution is found in reconnecting to the Earth, the work of the first chakra.  Teilhard put it this way: Our own age seems primarily to need a rejuvenation of supernatural forces to be effected by driving roots deeply into the nutritious energies of the Earth.

All this brings back a “passionate admiration of the universe.”  Awe and wonder, the Via Positiva returns.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations, p. 216.   

And Fox, Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality, p. 31.

And Fox, “Theme 6: Panentheism: Experiencing the Diaphanous and Transparent God,” in Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, pp. 88-92.

Banner Image: Meditation in a meadow, first chakra on the Earth. Photo by Léonard Cotte on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree with Teilhard that our religion is enfeebled? How can we recover a sense of community and compassion and admiration?

Recommended Reading

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

Sheer Joy: Conversations with Thomas Aquinas on Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox renders Thomas Aquinas accessible by interviewing him and thus descholasticizing him.  He also translated many of his works such as Biblical commentaries never before in English (or Italian or German of French).  He  gives Aquinas a forum so that he can be heard in our own time. He presents Thomas Aquinas entirely in his own words, but in a form designed to allow late 20th-century minds and hearts to hear him in a fresh way. 
“The teaching of Aquinas comes through will a fullness and an insight that has never been present in English before and [with] a vital message for the world today.” ~ Fr. Bede Griffiths (Afterword).
Foreword by Rupert Sheldrake

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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6 thoughts on “Teilhard, Aquinas and Creation Spirituality”

  1. Avatar

    If we know or believe our religion to be enfeebled we recognize it as such, and ‘continue to work on through it regardless’ with what we believe to be true, right, loving, just, compassionate, merciful and inclusive. It is our lives themselves that constitute the Holy Church and not otherwise. — BB.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    The Spirit moves as it wills, through that which it chooses and through whom is responsive to its living essence and presence. We know not where it comes from, although we have been given the gift of intuiting its subtle promptings and wisdom guidance that offers us only revelatory glimpses of where it is leading the unfolding, evolving emergence of this mystery; within not only the consciousness of humanity, but that of the creation of the all and the everything as well.

    This living Spirit will not and cannot be controlled by the limitations, illusions and delusions of any man made enfeebled religions that egotistically attempt to oppress and suppress this spiritual reality.

    Some of the mystics, prophets, visionaries, artists, poets and activists of the past and those of the present humbly accept this, and in doing so are awakened, empowered and set free, to become and be a co-creative collaborator, responsive to being and living in relationship with the essence and presence of this living Spirit and the spirituality of this reality.

    Humility is not a weakness, but rather a choice of surrendering the ego and willingly trusting the movements and mystery of this living essence and presence of Spirit incarnate within… who’s harmonious and balancing vibrational energy is that of unconditional love, compassion, and mercy towards the beauty, goodness, interconnections and interrelationships of all that exists; both in the natural and the spiritual realms.

  3. Avatar

    Nicholas Black Elk who is being recommended for sainthood in “the church” remarked that the repercussions of his major vision about everyone and everything being ONE shortened his life. I have been sensing for the last few years that my major vision of us being ONE in the eye of our Spirit or Group Soul of Consciousness is shortening my life.

  4. Avatar

    Yes! We can recover a sense/transformation of Community and Compassion by Faithfully and meditatively becoming more aware/conscious of the Divine Presence in our daily inner and outer lives with others, Beautiful Sacred Mother Nature/Earth and all Her creatures, and Our LOVING DIVERSE WHOLENESS~ONENESS with-in ongoing Co-Creation/Evolution in the physical and non-physical Spiritual Realms realms of Our Cosmos~OMNIVERSE in the Sacred Process~Flow of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT… COSMIC CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS….

  5. Avatar

    I love this post! Finding the univocity, uniting matter and spirit, which also fits with current understanding, will help us get past dualism and failure to cherish what is human in the interest of some abstract and other-worldly spirituality. Caring for daily needs and relationships, and the needs of the planet is what St Thomas consistently shows us. Thank you!

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