Our Jesuit astronomer and the influence of Teilhard de Chardin

The French philosopher, palaeontologist and geologist, Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ is the focus for the Society of Jesus this January, as he features in the commemorative calendar produced by the Jesuits in Britain. The calendar was this week launched in an online version, in several languages and with more detailed essays about each of the 12 featured Jesuits than could be offered in the printed version. The Jesuits in Britain issued their 2014 calendar as the Society of Jesus commemorates the 200th anniversary of its restoration by Pope Pius VII in 1814. Stonyhurst alumna Ellen Riley was commissioned to paint portraits of a dozen Jesuits from across the world who have been involved in influential ministries in various parts of the world over the past 200 years. But after Ellen's death at the age of 24 in 2012, the paintings - in acrylic and oil on canvas - were completed by her husband Cédric Charleuf. The online resource launched this week provides longer essays on each of the men in French, Spanish and Chinese, as well as English, plus audio reflections about them. The January essay on Teilhard de Chardin was written by Fr Christopher Corbally SJ, a British Jesuit Jesuit working at the Vatican Observatory. While Fr Corbally did not meet the French Jesuit himself, he acknowledges in his essay the great influence he had upon him and his vocation: 'Teilhard's thought and spirituality are so rich that I am only able to touch on a small part of them,' he writes. 'My selection comes from aspects that have been and remain helpful to me as a Jesuit priest and astronomer for the Vatican Observatory. These aspects have particularly dealt with the interpenetration of matter with spirit. It is this interpenetration that makes the work I do as an astronomer, even the tedious parts, totally spiritual while also totally material. They form an element of the progress of the Universe, human and everything else, into the Whole, which is Christ.' To read the full essay by Fr Corbally and to explore the other Jesuits featured in the 2014 calendar from the Jesuits in Britain visit the full 2014 Calendar