“Doesn’t this make you feel like you’re about to explode?”
My new Benedictine Oblate sculptor friend Jan Aiijan and I grinned at one another in recognition.
On the heels of my enthusiastic yes to Jan’s first question, she asked “Have you heard the phrase ‘lucid intoxication’?” Once again, we smiled at one another in appreciation of the perfection of the phrase ‘lucid intoxication’ in describing the Cosmic Christ theology of Teilhard de Chardin. Briefly, Jan continued,
“‘I wish I could bottle up his words, ideas, stand on the street corner and force everyone to stand while I administer 20 minutes of him to each person; how they would be changed, how the world would be changed!’
The occasion of our meeting was a day long retreat for Benedictine Oblates at theMonastery of the Risen Christ in San Luis Obispo California on the paleontologist and theologian Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin, provided by two Benedictine Monks, both de Chardin scholars.
Jan’s expressions were condign- wholly worthy- from the most moment of Fr. Bruno’s and later, Fr. Bob’s talks on this giant intellect whose vision of Christ and His Catholic Church so eclipsed those of the Jesuit hierarchy and the Vatican that none of his prodigious and stunning theology was published until after his death in 1973, on Easter Sunday.
I’ve had an off and on acquaintance with Teilhard de Chardin for most of my life. A million years ago we met; I an ignorant, atheistic undergraduate English and Philosophy major at a small Dominican College in Houston, he in the middle of the institutional ideological wars with his order and the Vatican which alternately accused him of offending Catholic doctrine, serious doctrinal error, denied him faculty positions, and prestigious honors from his scientific associates to name only a few of the humiliations endured by this genius. Yet he never opposed his Superiors nor did he ever publicly condemn their condemnation of him. His faith, devotion and heroic obedience to his beloved Catholic Church never wavered.
Strangely, my interest in de Chardin all those years ago, annoyed one of the Dominican nun instructors to the point that I recall her gruffly telling me that I ‘ looked like him’. Her comment clearly not intended as a compliment.
And so, I considered it a rare privilege to sit at the feet of men who know de Chardin, have grappled with the intensity, sheer grandeur of his ideas enough to galvanize me to approach de Chardin a third time.
When I consider Fr Bruno’s intriguing comment, “I believe we have not yet reached hope; the theological virtue of hope as yet; we have not yet witnessed the dawn of hope in the church” and the richness of de Chardin’s writing:
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 in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
with Jan, I feel as I am about to explode and I feel I have a new friend in Teilhard de Chardin.