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Center for Action and Contemplation


Monday, November 21, 2016

The Perennial Tradition

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) stated that seminarians should “base themselves on a philosophy which is perennially valid,” and it encouraged the study of the entire history of philosophy and also “recent scientific progress.” [1] This sent willing Catholics in a new direction that is still unfolding.

In the authentic search for God, the field keeps expanding and never tightening. As does the universe itself, we move toward an ever-greater aliveness, a greater consciousness, a deeper union. The Jesuit scientist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), called this a divine allurement which is drawing the universe forward until a truly cosmic “Christ comes to full stature” (Ephesians 4:13). [2] For Teilhard, this was the Omega Point of all history, just as Duns Scotus had seen the Christ as the Alpha Point or the “first idea in the mind of God.” This made the entire universe and all of history unified, meaningful, and also hopeful! There is a trajectory and direction to it all, which is what both Jews and Christians were supposed to believe.

Few people put together science, philosophy, mysticism, and poetry as brilliantly as does Teilhard de Chardin. Ilia Delio, Franciscan sister and theologian, writes:

Teilhard spent his life trying to show that evolution is not only the universe coming to be, but it is God who is coming to be. Divine Love, poured into space-time, rises in consciousness and erupts in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, becoming the pledge of our future in the risen Christ: “I am with you always until the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). We can read the history of our 13.7 billion year old universe as the rising up of Divine Love incarnate, which bursts forth in the person of Jesus, who reveals Love’s urge toward wholeness through reconciliation, mercy, peace, and forgiveness. Jesus is the love of God incarnate, the wholemaker who shows the way of evolution toward unity in love. In Jesus, God breaks through and points us in a new direction; not one of chance or blindness but one of ever-deepening wholeness in love. In Jesus, God comes to us from the future to be our future. Those who follow Jesus are to become wholemakers, uniting what is scattered, creating a deeper unity in love. [3]

Carl Jung viewed the archetype of God as the instinct toward wholeness, and I think he is exactly right. I’ve always said that Jesus didn’t come to create a new or exclusive religion. He came to reform and reinvigorate the very meaning of all religion—and ground it in human nature and creation itself—which is universal. Indeed, we are called “to become wholemakers, uniting what is scattered, creating a deeper unity in love.”

Gateway to Silence:
All truth is one.

[1] Optatam Totius, October 28, 1965, #15.
[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 107. It is hard to ever be small again after you have read Teilhard de Chardin.
[3] Ilia Delio, “Love at the Heart of the Universe,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, Vol. 1, No. 1 (CAC: 2013), 21-22. (This issue of Oneing, a limited edition publication, is no longer available in print; however, the eBook is available from Amazon and iTunes. Explore additional issues of Oneing at

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 134-135.

Image credit: Tree with visible roots in Kiental, between Herrsching and Andechs, Germany,
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