Tuesday, July 14, 2009

An irresistible and holy desire

Today is Bastille Day, the French national holiday. So it seems fitting to bring you something from an influential French thinker and mystic. I refer, of course, to Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who was a paleontologist and a philospopher. He influenced me hugely in the early 70s when there was a revival of popular interest in his work.

There is so much I could quote here. But I bring you two passages which are very meaningful to me today. Here's the first:
In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.
More and more I am convinced that "Why?" is the most useless question anyone came up with. A better question is, rather, "Why not?" and then for us to move on to "What now?"

And here's a way we can all (any time, anywhere, whether clergy or lay) say Mass and say it rightly:
Since once again, O Lord, in the steppes of Asia, I have no bread, no wine, no altar, I will raise myself above those symbols to the pure majesty of reality, and I will offer to you, I, your priest, upon the altar of the entire earth, the labor and the suffering of the world. Receive, O Lord, in its totality the Host which creation, drawn by your magnetism, presents to you at the dawn of a new day. This bread, our effort, is in itself, I know, nothing but an immense disintegration. This wine, our anguish, as yet, alas! is only an evaporating beverage. But in the depths of this inchoate Mass you have placed —I am certain, for I feel it— an irresistible and holy desire that moves us all, the impious as well as the faithful to cry out: "O Lord, make us one!"
How captivating and awe-inspiring to see the entire earth as one's altar and then to perceive, by faith, the "pure majesty of reality".

What if we said to the Holy One every day, "This bread, this my effort, is my body broken for you."

And then, "This wine, this my anguish, is my blood shed for you."

Really. What if we did this?


  1. Lovely, Ellie. I posted a link in honor of Bastille Day.

  2. Thank you, Ellie. My professor of Hebrew Scriptures was a big Teilhard fan. How nice to read the passage on the Mass of the world today. Wonderful. Just wonderful. It moved me back when I was a Baptist seminarian. OK, I was a very high church sacramental Baptist - obviously that was doomed to fall transmute.

  3. Well, of course we would be transformed and why not?!

    Beautiful readings from deChardin.

  4. Your inspiring ideas (along with the author's) transform the symbols of the mass into something so very, very personal. Wonderful, really.

    annie c


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