Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit paleontologist who worked to understand evolution and faith.
He was born May 1, , and died on April 10, Between these days Teilhard fully participated in a life that included priesthood, living and working in the front lines of war, field work exploring the early origins of the human race, and adventurous travels of discovery in the backlands of China.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin also participated fully in an intellectual life through the development of his imaginative, mystical writings on the evolutionary nature of the world and the cosmos. Teilhard suffered from the rejection of his writings by ecclesiastical authorities and—perhaps felt more severely by him—by the Jesuit leadership.
In his thinking and writing Teilhard studied the intimate relationship between the evolutionary development of the material and the spiritual world, leading him to celebrate the sacredness of matter infused with the Divine presence. As he grew up he studied geology and the natural sciences. After he entered the Jesuits, he was ready to give up these interests in order to devote himself to his spiritual vocation.
But Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was dissuaded by his wise Jesuit spiritual director, who advised him that following his intellectual interests also gave glory to God.
Prayer of Teilhard de Chardin
Through his theological studies and continued studies in the natural sciences, Teilhard sought to create intellectual space in which the physical and spiritual world could be appreciated for their unique contribution to human life.
Although he was ordained a priest in , Pierre was drafted into the French army in He turned down a commission in order to serve as a stretcher bearer, serving in many of the major battles including Champaign, Verdun, and the second Battle of the Marne.
Teilhard de Chardin
But his insight into the evolving flow of history helped him to see, even in the midst of human tragedy, a sense of communion with the world and communion with God united in the crucified Christ.
After the war, Teilhard went on to receive a doctorate in geology from the Sorbonne. His developing insights on the nature of evolution did not sit well with a hierarchy uncomfortable with the idea of evolution and its spiritual consequences.
So in Teilhard was given permission to go to China to do paleontological work in the backcountry around Beijing Peking. Teilhard spent many of the 23 years between and doing fieldwork in China under the most primitive conditions.
Expeditions took him to difficult areas where he endured blistering heat, icy blizzards, poor food, sandstorms, snakes, flash floods, marauding bandits, civil war, political intrigue, bribery, and maddening policy changes leveled by unstable governments.
With his health failing, Teilhard traveled to South America and South Africa tracing further discoveries of the evolutionary journey.
He finally settled at St. Paul himself tells us so. We may, perhaps, imagine that Creation was finished long ago.
But that would be quite wrong. It continues in still more magnificent form in the highest zones of the world….
Our role is to help complete it, if only by the humble work of our hands. This is the real meaning and the price of our acts. Owing to the interrelation between matter, soul, and Christ, we lead part of the being which he desires back to God in whatever we do.
With each of our works , we labor automatically but really to build the Pleroma, which is to say we help towards the fulfillment of Christ.
Grant me, then, something even more precious than that grace for which all your faithful followers pray: to receive communion as I die is not sufficient: teach me to make a communion of death itself.
What Is Ignatian Spirituality? About Contact. We waved hello, introduced ourselves, and…. Be brave and look carefully at the messiness in your life.
About Contact More. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ Gretchen Crowder. Loretta Pehanich.
Marina McCoy. Rebecca Ruiz. Vinita Hampton Wright.
Examen On the Examen Fiona Basile. All rights reserved.
Any copying, redistribution, or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of Loyola Press is expressly prohibited.