“We are co-creators with God in a world that is still being created and thus the power of God is powerless without us. Love is not abstract; it acquires power only in relationships. This is why Teilhard wants us to “see” the power of love in our midst, in the same way that Jesus invited his disciples to “see,” to recognize what is taking place in this moment, in the miracle of life. Then we must unite with what we see. We have many examples of love at present in the front-line workers tending to the victims of the pandemic, the hospital personnel and those sustaining them with food and supplies, as well as warehouse workers, grocery store workers and those delivering our goods. Our world does not lack in individual love; what it lacks is a collective will to love, that is, a global love reflected in economic structures, political systems and social communities.
Teilhard would view this pandemic as an opportunity to harness the energies of love in new ways. Every act of suffering in his view is an invitation to a new creative moment, a wake-up call that something old is breaking down and something new is taking place in our midst. Our global pandemic is marked by the reality that information is no longer local. Our lines of complexity have created a global world. Whatever takes place from now on will affect the entire world. In this respect, returning to “business as usual” shows a blind eye to the evolutionary moment we are in. Teilhard was aware that the energies of creativity bring with them a certain terror, a not-knowing what the outcome will be. Hence he advocated radical trust in the inner presence of God and the holiness of the world.”
— Ilia Delio, OSF, “The 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic: What Would Teilhard Say?“
The Teilhard being referred to in Ilia Delio’s article above is Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a French Jesuit priest, philosopher, paleontologist, and geologist. His notable works include The Divine Milieu and The Phenomenon of Man. Teilhard has had a great influence on my life since the time I was introduced to his writings in college. During his life, much of his writing was rejected by ecclesiastical authorities as well as his own Jesuit community. He was ahead of his time. By the time I encountered his writings in the 1970s, they were admired for their brilliance and ground-breaking insights.
During these times, I find myself going to those who have been foundational in my spiritual journey. And by doing that, I find insight and brilliance in what they can contribute to our time. Teilhard is one of those. The above excerpt by Ilia Delio captures something very powerful. I have put in bold the sentence that jumped off the page for me. She so captures the insight of Teilhard’s concept of the power of love. A message we continually hear from Bishop Curry, our Presiding Bishop.
I do believe, as I mentioned in my Easter homily, that there is no going back to normal. We need to move forward towards being participants in harnessing the energies of love in new ways, as Teilhard would challenge us to do.
Let me conclude with my favorite quote of Teilhard:
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, man will have discovered fire.Teilhard de Chardin, from Toward the Future (1936)
— Fr. George
- “The 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic: What Would Teilhard Say?“ by Ilia Delio, OSF, a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC and American theologian specializing in the area of science and religion, with interests in evolution, physics and neuroscience.
- “What Would Love Do?” – Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Word to the Church regarding “the rubric of love” during the COVID-19 pandemic (article and video).
- Fr. George’s Easter homily (video or audio): “I’d like to propose during this Easter season, as we still walk in the midst of this pandemic, that we see our call as something different. Not something that we’re called to go back to again, but something we’re called to lean forward into.”
For more parish resources and updates during the global pandemic, visit St. Paul’s Connects.Tags: From the Clergy, Hope for the Journey