This is the first reflection commemorating the two hundredth
anniversary of the Restoration of the Society of Jesus. A reflection
on the life of Teilhard de Chardin.
‘Christ be near at either hand’. Let me make these simple words my prayer
today. Let me know Christ’s presence in my life, Christ’s closeness to me in every
moment of this day, and let me welcome that presence with an open heart.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born in 1881 and became famous as
a philosopher, palaeontologist and geologist, who worked
extensively in Africa and Asia and was part of the scientific
investigation that discovered ‘Peking Man’ in China. He brought the
experiences of science, religion and spirituality together, and
reflected on what he described as the ‘cosmic’ nature of Christ, to
sit alongside Christ’s human and divine natures. Teilhard reflected
deeply on ecology and he looked to human history for the
trajectory of the human race in times to come. As he once said, “I
am a pilgrim of the future on my way back from a journey made
entirely in the past.” Although Teilhard was largely forbidden to
formally publish his spiritual reflections during his own lifetime, his
writings were circulated widely among friends and colleagues and
became influential in the shaping of the Church’s dialogue with
science and religion at Vatican II. “We are not human beings having
a spiritual experience,” he used to say, “we are spiritual beings
having a human experience.” He died in 1955.
What aspect of Teilhard’s life surprises you or invites you to find God in a
new way? What pilgrimage do you need to begin in order to do this?
How does his invitation to trust and patience contrast with the urgency of
his scientific enquiry and what are the equivalent contrasts in your own life?
With what are you excessively impatient in your life? In what part of your life
do you need to increase your trust in God?
As you listen again to Teilhard’s invitation, ask yourself what is maturing
gradually in your own life? How can you cultivate patience and live through
life’s instability, while the Lord leads you into the new and unknown?
Ask the Lord to show you how to meet him through the matter of the world
he has created for us. Where is the Lord waiting for you in your life? Where
is He trying to welcome you into your tomorrow?