In a letter to Jeanne-Marie Mortier in 1948 he refers to 'The Heart of Christ at the heart of matter. The 'Golden Glow' as I like to say in English'. In another letter to Claude Cuenot the same year he writes of the ' The Golden Glow: the glimmer of fire - love (attraction) and evolution of love - the all, centered and non-diffused (expansion).
'vision of the mysterious Diaphany (I prefer that word to Epiphany ) by which the universal Christ illumines the unique and higher substance of things, so as to act on us through them and so draw us to their common summit!
|Teilhard in front of the 'golden glow' in 1917|
In a very real sense, Lord Jesus, you are the full assemblage of all beings who shelter and meet and are for ever united, within the mystical bonds of your body. In your breast, my God, better than in any embrace, I possess all those whom I love and are illuminated by your beauty and in turn illumine you with the rays of light (so powerful in their effect upon our hearts) which they receive from you and send back to you. ( ‘The Priest’, Prayer of the Universe, p 163)
What he later terms the Golden Glow is therefore the 'rays of light' which have a powerful effect on our hearts. We must be open to this light and 'send it back' to God.
In 1941 he gives his friend Lucile Swan a holy picture of the Sacred Heart. His letter describes it as:
..a copy of the only “pious” object left, since years, on my working table. Hope you will not think it too “roman-catholic”. For me this quite simple illustration is a vague representation of the universal “foyer” of attraction which we are aiming for...
OF COURSE, any image of the Sacred Sacred Heart can only ever be a 'vague representation' of what he calls a 'foyer' of crimson and gold attraction towards which mankind are being drawn and towards which we should aim. 'Foyer' on the face of it a strange word to use. Does he mean that it is a lobby or a waiting room? I don't think so. It is more likely that he is using it in a very different sense: the word 'foyer' comes from the latin FOCUS, which means a hearth or fireplace. The image therefore vaguely represents a universal fireplace or focal point of attraction. What he likes about the card is that it captures this sense of the Sacred Heart as a 'foyer' : it is a representation of the universal glow of divine love which is a universal focal point - foyer or hearth of the cosmos. The Sacred Heart is indeed a sacred hearth! The Golden Glow is the glowing light generated by that foyer. Thus, on the 27th August 1941 he writes to describing it as the ' light and the hearth of God' which is at the 'at the deep centre of everything'. The Golden Glow is the light 'of beauty and truth'.
The Golden Glow in the icon may therefore be understood as the diaphanous light which illuminates and draws us - attracts us - to the divine centre of the cosmos. As Sion Cowell expresses it in his utterly indispensable guide to Teilhard : the Golden Glow is is the ' luminous fringe revealing the divinity of Christ (epiphany and transfiguration. ) and the active presence of the divine milieu'. ( Sion Cowell, The Teilhard Lexicon, p 86) That is what the icon captures so beautifully. It is filled with a diaphanous golden glow which evokes the Golden Glow which we know better as the Sacred Heart of Jesus.