Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience

Readings for the Feast Day of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

This reflection was shared at Sacred Saunter Outdoor Eucharist on Saturday April 13, 2019 at Sequoia Park in Eureka. 

 

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The Collect for Teilhard de Chardin

Eternal God, the whole cosmos sings of your glory, from the dividing of a single cell to the vast expanse of interstellar space: We bless you for your theologian and scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who perceived the divine in the evolving creation. Enable us to become faithful stewards of your divine works and heirs of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Today is Lazarus Sunday, the day we commemorate the Raising of Lazarus and prepare ourselves for Holy Week, which begins tomorrow on Palm Sunday. But our readings for today are for the Feast Day of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which was April 10th. De Chardin was a Jesuit priest, a paleontologist, scientist and military chaplain. He is sometimes affectionately called the “Jesuit Indiana Jones.” He was one of the first Christian theologians to take seriously the theory of evolution. He argued that God incorporated evolution into the divine creative process; and that we are continuing to evolve, and thus God is continuing to create us and the world. He argued that God is pulling all of creation into himself and that we will eventually all evolve into oneness with God.

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I want to share two quotes from Teilhard de Chardin. The first is a quote that Presiding Bishop Michael Curry referenced in his Royal Wedding sermon last May. De Chardin said, “After we have harnessed the powers of wind, water, the tides and gravity, we will someday harness for God the energies of love. And when we do, it will be the second time in the history of the world, that we will have discovered fire.” Part of evolving into oneness with God is harnessing for God the energies of love.

The second quote is a provocative one that I’ve been chewing on the last few days. He said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. Rather, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” God has clothed himself in creation, in the leaves and trees all around us. God has also clothed himself in our own human bodies. God wants to discover Godself in our human experience. So according to Teilhard, our true identity is divine and eternal.

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During his lifetime, many considered Teilhard to be heretical. However, in more recent decades, he has been vindicated by Pope Benedict XVI and others who have celebrated his contributions. Before he died, Teilhard prayed, “God, if I am not wrong, let me die on Easter Sunday.” He ended up dying on April 10th, 1955: Easter Sunday.

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We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

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