Thursday, 18 June 2015

Laudato si - one giant leap for our common home

Well, what a day!  Watched the live broadcast of the launch of Laudato si - and no longer had to struggle with my terrible Italian and downloaded the English version. Was so pleased to see the reference to Teilhard in the final text * , and having read the whole thing  through a few times I think that it is a document that is truly a landmark in Catholic social teaching. It  also conveys the spirit of what Teilhard was trying to say about the need for a more cosmic sense of Christ and of the need for Christianity to have a 'sense of the earth'.  This will give rise to a great debate and hopefully action to 'care for our common home'.

My initial thoughts are about the press launch.  I was moved by Metropolitan John Zizioulas's contribution - especially his emphasis on how the ideas contained in the encyclical will serve the cause of Christianity unity.  This was, of course, Teilhard's great belief - that a more cosmic sense of Christ, and a sense of the earth would promote unity!  One point in particular stuck out- his observations about the ecological implications which relate: the very heart of the Church, which is the Holy Eucharist. In the celebration of the Eucharist, the Church offers to God the material world in the form of the bread and the wine. In this Sacrament space, time and matter are sanctified; they are lifted up to the Creator with thankfulness as His gifts to us; creation is solemnly declared as God’s gift, and human beings instead of proprietors of creation act as its priests, who lift it up to the holiness of the divine life. This brings to mind the moving words of St. Francis of Assisi with which the Encyclical opens: “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth.” As St. Gregory Palamas and other Greek Fathers would put it, the whole of creation is permeated by God’s presence through His divine energies; everything declares God’s glory, as the Psalmist says, and the human being leads this cosmic chorus of glorification to the Creator as the priest of creation. This way of understanding the place and mission of humanity in creation is common to both Eastern and Western Christian tradition, and is of particular importance for the cultivation of an ecological ethos.

This was so very evocative of  Teilhard's great Mass on the World. (Although on reflection, Teilhard was always very sympathetic to the Greek fathers!So, no surprise really.)

The other thing that struck me -which  again brought Teilhard to mind - was the presence of a scientist on the panel, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber.  He began by talking about the important relationship between faith and reason, science and religion.  It is a sign of how far we have come since Teilhard that we are now able to have a dialogue of this kind - and to see the way one can inform the other.

So much to say about this great encyclical!

The context of the Teilhard reference is:

"83. The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things.[53] ...The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator."

( Isn't this what is depicted in the icon inspired by Teilhard?) 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Teilhard cited in Laudato si /Be praised: on the care of our common home!

I am sure that if Teilhard were alive today he would be smiling at the prospect of a Jesuit Pope, trained as a chemist, with the name Francis publishing an encyclical on the global environmental crisis.  Teilhard had a great love of St. Francis.  Speaking to Blessed Gabriel Allegra  he remarked that ' St Francis is so dear and so close to me! I believe he assists me in my difficulties and blesses my work'. ( My Conversations with Teilhard de Chardin on the Primacy of Christ, p55)  I have just read the leaked draft of Laudato si (hereand was absolutely delighted to see that Teilhard gets a reference. ( fnote 53:  'In questa prospettiva si pone il contributo del P.Teilhard de Chardin;' * How fitting!!  Teilhard, after all these years, is mentioned in the official teaching of the church!! This surely must mean that Teilhard is finally acknowledged for his immense contribution to the Church's thinking on  the relationship between  Christ, humanity and the Cosmos. Just hope that the reference makes the final version - Teilhard still has plenty of enemies and there are no shortage of anti-Francis people who will no doubt pounce on him for daring to mention Teilhard and for the argument of Laudato si as a whole.  If ever there was a time to pray for Pope Francis, now is a very good time!

In advance of the publication the Pope had this to say:

 Pope Francis asked the faithful and all persons of good will to receive his new Encyclical letter on the care of creation with open hearts. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered for his weekly General Audience on the eve of the much-anticipated document’s official release, Pope Francis said, “Tomorrow, as you know, the Encyclical on the care of the ‘common house’ that is creation will be published.” Pope Francis went on to say, “Our ‘house’ is being ruined, and that hurts everyone, especially the poorest among us.” The Holy Father concluded, saying, “My appeal is, therefore, to responsibility, based on the task that God has given to man in creation: ‘to till and tend’ the ‘garden’ in which humanity has been placed (cf. Gen 2:15). I invite everyone to accept with open hearts this document, which places itself in the line of the Church's social doctrine.” 

  St Francis of Assisi, pray for for the Pope.  Sacred Heart of Jesus, we place all our trust in you - the  great sign of ' l’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle'.   May the Holy Spirit open our hearts to the message of Laudato si . 

In respect of this statement:' Il traguardo del cammino dell’universo è nella pienezza di Dio, che è stata già raggiunta da Cristo risorto, fulcro della maturazione universale.' ( The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fulness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things  .'

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Feast of the Sacred Heart, 2015

Yesterday was the feast of the Sacred Heart. It marked a milestone for me personally as it was five years to the day when I realised that I was being called to dedicate my life to the Sacred Heart. All I can say is that it has been a period of transformation : I was blind, but now I see.  I have no doubt but that I can thank the icon for helping me develop a constant sense of God as love.  Pope Francis did not speak on the Sacred Heart, but he had earlier reminded people about the feast on on  Corpus Christi. (here).  When we encounter Christ in the eucharist we are, of course, receiving the word of God made flesh.  The readings at mass said it all really. The first reading from Hosea shows us what the heart of God is like: it shows us that God loves us in a very intimate way.

When Israel was a child I loved him,
and I called my son out of Egypt.
I myself taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them in my arms;
yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them.
I led them with reins of kindness,
with leading-strings of love.
I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek;
stooping down to him I gave him his food.

The Psalm from  Isaiah reminds us of the pierced heart of Jesus from which flowed the living waters.

Truly, God is my salvation,
  I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
  he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
  from the wells of salvation.

And of course, the great reading from St Paul's letter to the Ephesians ( which deeply informed Teilhard's 'attraction' to the Heart of Jesus) expresses the essence of the meaning of the devotion.

 This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name: Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.

And finally the Gospel from John:

When they came to Jesus, they found he was already dead, and so instead of breaking his legs one of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it – trustworthy evidence, and he knows he speaks the truth – and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfil the words of scripture:
Not one bone of his will be broken;
and again, in another place scripture says:
They will look on the one whom they have pierced.

These readings tell us why the devotion to the Sacred Heart is as important to the future of the Church as it was at the time of St. Margaret Mary.  As our parish priest reminded us, the devotion sprung into a new life at a time when the Church was under attack and when people had turned their backs on the love of God.  Today we live in a sinful world in which God  - who is love - is dead you so many people. And we wonder why there is so much hate, greed and violence?  We wonder why the hearts of so many are cold and hard? 

Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on us