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It is remarkable how controversy over Teilhard de Chardin's writings continues. Remarkable, since many of these recorded his contemplation of sublime realities during his four years of service as a thrice-decorated stretcher bearer in the trenches of World War I.
This priest, born in France, the fourth of a family of eleven, was more a seer than a scientist. He said of himself: "I am not directly concerned with science, philosophy, nor apologetics. Primarily I am concerned to express an impassioned vision ... I am immersed in the creative action of God, whose Hand has never ceased, from the beginning of time, to mould the human clay destined to constitute the Body of His Son" (Cosmic Life).
One could suggest Teilhard's work was the expounding of Hebrews 10:15, "a body hast Thou prepared for Me."
Teilhard's vision was of the connectedness of all things within the totality and unity of the whole of creation in God's plan. His evolution was the unfolding of that plan in the coming of the Kingdom of Christ - the ascent from nothing to matter, to man, to Mystical Body and consummation in glory.
Though The Phenomenon of Man may be disconcerting in its language and speculation, there is more truth in it than in Darwin's "monkey business", with its lack of reference to the supernatural.
Critics, mostly from hearsay, accuse Teilhard of pantheism. His pantheism is the divinisation of nature by grace, in, with and through Christ, Alpha and Omega, source, centre, and summit, radiating His Presence while also drawing all to Himself. He works in the world, not in a vacuum.
Teilhard's vision of the Cosmic Christ is akin to that in the mind of St Paul after his conversion experience which transported him into a paradisial vision of the mystery hidden in God (2 Cor 12:2). In Christ all things hold together as God's plan to unite all things in heaven and on earth (Eph 1:30). Both in this world and in Christ "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28).
Some say Teilhard did not believe in original sin. Yet in Prayer of the Universe he bemoans the loss of immediacy with God because of that first sin.
Space does not allow further comparisons of the accord of Telihard's thought with Scripture, Mysticism and Liturgy.
ELSIE CUNNINGHAM (MRS)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 6 (July 2003), p. 15
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