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Some Favorite Teilhard Quotes (by Matthew Wright)

Matthew Wright shares some of his favorite quotes by scientist, priest, philosopher, and mystical visionary Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955):

Meditations with TeilhardMost, but not all, of these quotations are taken from Meditations with Teilhard de Chardin by Blanche Gallagher, Bear & Company, 1988.  You might try using them for daily reflection or lectio divina.

“As a direct consequence of the unitive process by which God is revealed to us, God in some way ‘transforms himself’ when incorporating us. So, it is no longer a matter of simply seeing God and allowing oneself to be enveloped and penetrated by God—we have to do more: we have to disclose God (or even in one sense of the word ‘complete’ God) ever more fully. All around us, and within our own selves, God is in the process of ‘changing’ as a result of the coincidence of God’s magnetic power and of our own thought. As the ‘quantity of cosmic union’ rises, so the brilliance increases and the glow of God’s coloring grows richer.”

“Religion is not a strictly individual crisis—or choice or intuition—but represents the long disclosure of God’s being through the collective experience of the whole of humanity… God bent over the now intelligent mirror of Earth to impress on it the first marks of beauty.”

“To extend the kingdom of God to new peoples is well enough. But it is still better, and more direct, to make it penetrate into the deep rooted ‘thrust’ in which humankind’s desires are today combining.”

“It is first by the Incarnation and next by the Eucharist that Christ organizes us for himself and imposes himself upon us. By his Incarnation he inserted himself not just into humanity but into the universe which supports humanity.”

“Matter and Spirit: These were no longer two things but two states or two aspects of one and the same cosmic Stuff, according to whether it was looked at or carried further in the direction in which it is becoming itself or in the direction in which it is disintegrating. Matter is the Matrix of Spirit. Spirit is the higher state of Matter.”

[This calls to mind Gospel of Thomas, Logion 29: “Jesus said: If flesh came into being because of spirit, it is wonderful. If spirit came into being because of the body, it is exceedingly wonderful. I amazed that this great wealth has appeared in this poverty.”]

“The sense of the Earth opening and exploding upwards into God; and the sense of God taking root and finding nourishment downwards into Earth. A personal, transcendent God and an evolving Universe no longer forming two hostile centers of attraction, but entering into hierarchic conjunction to raise the human mass on a single tide. Such is the sublime transformation which we may with justice foresee, and which in fact is beginning to have its effect upon a growing number of minds, freethinkers as well as believers: the idea of a spiritual evolution of the Universe.”

“Purity is not a debilitating separation from all created reality, but an impulse carrying one through all forms of created beauty.”

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire.”

“What I want, my God, is that by a reversal of forces which you alone can bring about, my terror in the face of nameless changes destined to renew my being may be turned into an overflowing joy at being transformed into you.”

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stage of instability—and that it may take a very long time. Above all, trust in the slow work of God.”

“Christianity does not ask us to live in the shadow of the Cross, but in the fire of its creative action.”

“But above all Jesus is he who overcomes structurally, in himself and in behalf of us all, that resistance to spiritual ascent which is inherent in matter. He is the One who bears the weight which is inevitably part of all created reality. He is both symbol of progress and at the same time its heroic achievement. The full and ultimate meaning of redemption is no longer seen to be reparation alone, but rather further passage and conquest.”

“A person cannot disappear by passing into another person; for by nature we can only give ourselves as people so long as we remain self-conscious units, that is to say, distinct. Moreover, this gift which we make of ourselves has the distinct result of reinforcing the most incommunicable quality, that is to say the quality of superpersonalizing. Union differentiates.

“It is only toward hyper-reflection—that is to say, hyper-personalization—that thought can extrapolate itself. It is a mistake to look for the extension of our being or of the noosphere in the impersonal. In any domain—whether it be the cells of the body, the members of the society or the elements of a spiritual synthesis—union differentiates. In every organized whole, the parts perfect themselves and fulfill themselves. It is a mistake to confuse individuality with personality. To be fully ourselves it is in the direction of convergence with all the rest that we must advance—toward the “other.” The peak of ourselves, the acme of our originality, is not out individuality but our person; and according to the evolutionary structure of the world, we can only find our person by uniting together. Socialization means not the end but rather the beginning of the Era of the Person.”

“Here the cosmic role of sexuality appears in its full breadth. And here at the same time, the rules appear which will guide us in the mastery of that terrifying energy, in which the power that causes the universe to converge on itself passes through us.

“The first of these rules is that love, in conformity with the general laws of creative union, contributes to the spiritual differentiations of the two beings which it brings together. The one must not absorb the other nor, still less, should the two lose themselves in the enjoyments of physical possession, which would signify a lapse into plurality and return to nothingness. This is current experience, but can only be properly understood in the context of spirit-matter. Love is an adventure and a conquest. It survives and develops like the universe itself only by perpetual discovery.

“The only right love is that between couples whose passion leads them both, one through the other, to a higher possession of their being. The gravity of offenses against love therefore is not that they outrage some sort of modesty or virtue. It is that they fritter away, by neglect or lust, the universe’s reserves of personalization. This wastage is the true explanation of the disorders of ‘impurity.’ And at a higher degree in the development of union this same wastage occurs in a subtler form, changing love into a joint egoism.”

“Little by little, love becomes distinct, though still confused for a very long time with the simple function of reproduction. No longer only a unique and periodic attraction for purposes of material fertility; but an unbounded and continuous possibility of contact between minds rather than bodies; the play of countless subtle antennae seeking one another in the light and darkness of the soul; the pull towards mutual sensibility and completion.”

“When the maturing of its personality is approaching for the Earth, humans will have to realize that it is for them not simply a question of controlling births, but of increasing to the utmost the quantity of love liberated from the duty of reproduction. Enforced by this new need, the essentially personalizing function of love will detach itself more completely from ‘the flesh’ which has been for a time the organ of propagation. Without ceasing to be physical, in order to remain physical, love will make itself more spiritual.”

“Because the world is always growing and always unfinished and always ahead of us, to achieve our love we are engaged in a limitless conquest of the universe and ourselves. In this sense, we can only attain each other by consummating a union with the universe. Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.”

“Energy, then, becomes Presence. And so the possibility is disclosed for, opens out for, humanity, not only of believing and hoping but (what is more unexpected and much more valuable) of loving. Co-existing and co-organically with all the past, the present, and the future of the Universe is in a process of concentration upon itself.”

“Purity simply denotes the more-or-less distinct manner in which the ultimate center of their coincidence appears above the two beings in love. No question here of leaving one another, but only of joining in a greater than themselves. The world does not become divine by suppression but by sublimation. Its sanctity is not an elimination but a concentration of the sap of the Earth.”

“Nothing is precious except that part of you which is in other people, and that part of others which is in you. Up there, on high, everything is one.”

“To love is to discover and complete one’s self in someone other than oneself, an act impossible of general realization on Earth so long as each can see in the neighbor no more than a closed fragment following its own course through the world. It is precisely this state if isolation that will end if we begin to discover in each other not merely the elements of one and the same thing, but of a single Spirit in search of itself. The existence of such a power becomes possible in the curvature of a world capable of noogenesis.”

“There is, in truth, a secret message, explanatory of the whole Creation, which by allowing us to feel God in everything we do and in everything that is done to us (God creating in all things and being born in all things) can bring true happiness to our generation. Christ is incarnate; incarnate through the combined action of determinant and liberating factors, and of grace.”

“There are two sides to this operation, the constructive and the destructive; and when Christ is installed at Omega Point it is both these two sides that are covered and permeated by a flood of unitive force. In one great surge, Cosmogenesis becomes personalized, both in the things it adds, which centrify us for Christ, and in the things it subtracts, which draw us out of our own centers onto him. A current of love is all at once released, to spread over the whole breadth and depth of the world: and this it does as a fundamental essence which will metamorphose all things, assimilate and take the place of all.”

“The presence of the Incarnate Word penetrates like a universal element. It shines at the heart of all things.”

“Not in a metaphysical but in a physical sense, the energy of Incarnation was to flow into, and so illumine and give warmth to, ever wider and more tightly encircling forms of embrace.”

“By virtue of Creation, and, still more, of the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.”

“Christ does not act as a dead or passive point of convergence, but as a center of radiation for the energies that lead the universe back to God through humanity.”

“Here we move into what is indeed remarkable, an astonishing region where the Cosmic, the Human, and the Christic meet and so open up a new domain, the Centric; and there the manifold oppositions which constitute the unhappiness and anxieties of our life begin to disappear.”

“Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things (although we must have this ambition) as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value. This, I think, is the mystic to come.”

“We are all of us together carried in the one world-womb; yet each of us is our own little microcosm in which the Incarnation is wrought independently with degrees of intensity and shades that are incommunicable.”

“In the humanity which is begotten today, the Word prolongs the unending act of God’s own birth; and by virtue of God’s immersion in the world’s womb, the great waters of the kingdom of matter have, without even a ripple, been imbued with life. The immense host which is the universe is made flesh.”

“A fresh kind of life is starting.”

*****

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