Evolving in Love — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Evolving in Love

Love: Week 2

Evolving in Love
Thursday, November 8, 2018

The day will come when, after harnessing space, winds, the tide and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, [humanity] will have discovered fire. —Teilhard de Chardin [1]

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (18811955), the brilliant French Jesuit priest, mystic, and paleontologist, had much to say about love. Louis Savary, a theologian, and Patricia Berne, a psychologist, have been studying Teilhard’s writings for many years and finding ways to help others understand his work. Today I offer some of their insights:

God created this evolving universe because God is Love and each of us is God’s gift to the world. Our life purpose is to make a difference in transforming that world. . . .

For Teilhard, “love is the most universal, the most tremendous and the most mysterious of the cosmic forces.” [2] Love is both human and divine. Divine love is the energy that brought the universe into being and binds it together. Human love is whatever energy we use to help divine love achieve its purpose. . . .

Love of God and love of one another lies at the core of every traditional religion. Love not only permeates those religions, it transcends them and binds them together. Divine love embraces everyone and everything. There is nothing outside the divine embrace. . . .

From Teilhard’s perspective, then, helping the human family move toward the next step of human evolution in love is the most urgent and challenging task of contemporary spirituality. . . .

For Teilhard, love . . . is the essential nature of God, and the best name for God (see 1 John 4:8). As Teilhard envisioned it, divine love is the self-expressive creative force that gave birth to our evolving universe. [3] It is that same divine love that continuously keeps every atom of creation existing and moving forward on its grand evolutionary journey back to God. . . .

It was for the love of all created beings that God the Father sent his Son into the world that we might learn of God’s love for us and [that he might] show us how to live “The Way” of love (see John 3:16-17). . . .

According to Teilhard, God has implanted a divine spark of love in everything created, down to every last subatomic particle and photon of light. . . . That spark in each of us waits to be cultivated and developed until it matures. . . .

In contemporary language, Teilhard might say that God has an evolutionary “project” for creation that God wants to accomplish. . . . God wants creation to become fully conscious that it is imbued with divine love and living in that love. This final outcome is what Teilhard called “the Omega Point” and St. Paul called the Pleroma. [See Colossians 2:9-10.]

[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Toward the Future, trans. René Hague (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1975), xiii, 86-87.

[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Human Energy, trans. J. M. Cohen (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1969), 32.

[3] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: Christianity and Evolution, trans. René Hague (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1971), 182.

Louis M. Savary and Patricia H. Berne, Teilhard de Chardin On Love: Evolving Human Relationships (Paulist Press: 2017), xiii, xiv, 3, 5, 6, 14.

Image credit: “Ladybug” (detail) photograph, Roderico Y. Diaz.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
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