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Center for Action and Contemplation

Growing in Christ

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Universal Christ

Growing in Christ
Friday, December 7, 2018

[The cosmos] is fundamentally and primarily living. [1] Christ, through his Incarnation, is interior to the world, rooted in the world even in the very heart of the tiniest atom. [2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

As Paul saw Christ as a single “New Human” (see Ephesians 2:15), as Duns Scotus saw Christ as the Alpha point of history, so Teilhard saw the same Divine Icon as the Omega point of cosmic history—both the archetypal starting point and the alluring final goal. The end was therefore already contained in the beginning. History is both emanating from and also seduced by the same force: Divine Love. Do not confuse this with any sentimental notion of love. Teilhard uses the word “love” to describe the cosmic allurement of everything toward everything, a structural, metaphysical shape to the universe, most visible in the basic laws of gravity, the inherent structure of every atom, electro-magnetic fields, and sexual reproduction.

And yet everything is also fragmented and fighting this very process of reunification. For Christians, this resistance is symbolized by the cross. There is a cruciform shape to reality, it seems. Loss precedes all renewal; emptiness makes way for every new infilling; every transformation in the universe requires the surrendering of a previous “form.” This is the big fly in the cosmic ointment!

It may take us hundreds of years more to move beyond the old cosmology that viewed matter and spirit, light and dark, you and me, as separate entities and life and death as total opposites. Christ is the Living Icon of all Reality and all Reconciliation. His very being says that matter and Spirit are one! Life and death are one! The Christ Mystery is the code-breaker for the human dilemma.

Collectively, we’re moving toward the Omega point; but every time you and I hate, fear, compete, attack, judge, separate—thus avoiding the necessary letting gowe are resisting the full flow of Love, the energy which is driving the universe forward. The “Three Persons” of the Trinity—the template for all of reality (see Genesis 1:26-27)—can only pour themselves out because they have agreed to let go, and they can only receive because they have made space for the other. Self-emptying and infilling in equal measure is the only sustainable meaning of Love, growth, and Life Itself.

Let me end with a prayer from Teilhard:

Since, by virtue of my consent, I shall have become a living particle of the Body of Christ, all that affects me must in the end help on the growth of the total Christ. Christ will flood into and over me, me and my cosmos.

. . . May my acceptance be ever more complete, more comprehensive, more intense!

May my being, in its self-offering to you, become ever more open and more transparent to your influence!

And may I thus feel your activity coming ever closer, your presence growing ever more intense, everywhere around me. [3]

[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Human Energy, tr. J. M. Cohen (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1969), 23.

[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Science and Christ, tr. René Hague (Harper & Row: 1968), 36.

[3] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “The Priest,” Writings in Time of War, tr. René Hague (Harper & Row: 1968), 216. Teilhard wrote this meditation in 1918.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology, & Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), MP3 download.

Image credit: Body and Blood (detail), Janet McKenzie,
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Jesus is the union of human and divine in space and time; Christ is the eternal union of matter and Spirit from the beginning of time. —Richard Rohr
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