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December 2011

A Living Host

~ PART I ~

JAMES LARSON

 

“Summorum Pontificum [is] only the beginning of this new liturgical movement…. Benedict XVI knows well that in the long term we cannot remain with a coexistence between the ordinary and extraordinary forms in the Roman rite, but that the Church will again need in the future a common rite.”

  • Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Address to Roman Symposium on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, May 17, 2011.

“The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host.”

  • Benedict XVI, Homily, Celebration of Vespers with the Faithful of Aosta, July 24, 2009.

In my reply to the late Michael Davies in the June/July 2004 issue of Christian Order, I made the following observation:

Would it not be the final irony if Satan was able to draw the ‘elect’ into a denial of the Catholic Faith through their attachment to the Mass?

At the time, this quotation was prompted mostly by my observation that many traditional Catholics, in response to Cardinal Ratzinger’s minimal support for the traditional Mass, and in their mistaken idea that he was some kind of closet traditionalist, had voluntarily turned a blind eye to the tremendous amount of evidence as to Joseph Ratzinger’s philosophical and theological aberrations to be found in his writings and statements. The appropriateness of my remark has now been fleshed-out to an extraordinary degree by developments since Joseph Ratzinger’s ascension to the Papacy.

Cardinal Koch’s speech concerning Summorum Pontificum at the Roman Symposium attributes a very specific agenda to the Pope. It is impossible to believe that he would have done such a thing if there were not close collaboration between the two men on this issue. It is very important for our understanding of the future of the liturgy that we therefore give it careful scrutiny.

In his address, Cardinal Koch enumerates three distinct points as integral to the Pope’s agenda:

  1. Summorum Pontificum is only the beginning of the Liturgical "Reform of the Reform."
  2. The Extraordinary Form and the Novus Ordo have been placed in a dialogical and evolutionary relationship in which they "must enrich one another mutually."
  3. This process is to be considered "intra-Catholic ecumenism" which “proposes that the old liturgy is also understood as an "ecumenical bridge"; and that, if this intra-Catholic ecumenism fails, then "the old liturgy will not be able to carry out its ecumenical function of bridge-building."
    [All quotations in these three points are from Cardinal Koch’s talk].

In other words, Summorum Pontificum represents a "subsuming" of the Traditional Mass into an evolutionary liturgical process, and an ecumenical agenda, in which it can no longer be considered "the Mass of all times."

The actual form of the "future common rite" cannot of course now be detailed in its specifics. Evolution and dialectical change are not predictable in every detail. But it is entirely possible to delve into the "rule of faith" which is now dominant in the Church (especially in the mind of Pope Benedict XVI), and to specify the philosophical and theological approach to the faith which such a liturgy would reflect — this, according to the principle spelled out by Pope Benedict himself in Summorum Pontificum: "[the Church's] law of prayer corresponds to her law of faith" (Lex orandi eius legi credendi respondet).

This leads us to the second quote which I have offered at the beginning of this article. The Pope’s statement, "the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin… [in which] we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host," is not just a casual remark, high-sounding phrase, or piece of Modernist fluff. It entails very specific scientific, philosophical, and theological beliefs and principles formulated in profound opposition to traditional Catholic belief. These principles have been clearly delineated in the writings of both Teilhard de Chardin and Joseph Ratzinger.

The following analysis consists of two distinct parts. Since the original genesis and development of these ideas can be largely attributed to Teilhard de Chardin, Part I will deal with this topic. Next month, Part II will analyze the extraordinary degree to which Joseph Ratzinger’s thought corresponds with that of Father Teilhard’s – both by offering quotations in which he directly approves of the Jesuit’s "great vision," and through analysis of his writings in which he adopts the unique cosmological and evolutionary terminology of  "Teilhardism."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: The New Moses
In the following analysis, I will be dealing with three short works of Teilhard de Chardin. They are all to be found in Pierre Teilhard De Chardin: The Heart of Matter (Harcourt, 1978). All page references to quotations, unless otherwise noted, are taken from this edition.

The first is titled The Heart of Matter. It was written in 1950, and is considered the last of his major works. It is autobiographical, and contains a summation of his thought and the personal history of his spiritual development. Therefore, it is a singularly important work for understanding the man and his completed system.

The second, titled The Christic, was written one month before his death in 1955. It contains his culminating thoughts on Christ as the Omega Point of Evolution. 

The third work, The Mass on the World (originally titled The Priest), was begun in 1918, and it became a project which he worked on for the rest of his life. It is here that we find his most darksome prayer to a Christ for Whom the Consecrated Bread and Wine are only symbols of what Teilhard considered to be the real consecration of the whole world through evolutionary transformation and ascent to the Omega point.

It would be well for us to start with the author’s evaluation of his own messianic role as the new Moses:

How is it, then, that as I look around me, still dazzled by what I have seen, I find that I am almost the only person of my kind, the only one to have seen? And so I cannot, when asked, quote a single writer, a single work, that gives a clearly expressed description of the wonderful ‘Diaphany’ that has transfigured everything for me?

....Everywhere on Earth, at this moment, in the new spiritual atmosphere created by the appearance of the idea of evolution, there float, in a state of extreme mutual sensitivity, love of God and faith in the world: the two essential components of the Ultra-human. These two components are everywhere ‘in the air’; generally, however, they are not strong enough, both at the same time, to combine with one another in one and the same subject. In me, it happens by pure chance (temperament, upbringing, background) that the proportion of the one to the other is correct, and the fusion of the two has been effected spontaneously — not as yet with sufficient force to spread explosively — but strong enough nevertheless to make it clear that the process is possible — and that sooner or later there will be a chain-reaction.

This is one more proof that Truth has to appear only once, in one single mind [Teilhard’s], for it to be impossible for anything ever to prevent it from spreading universally and setting everything ablaze. (pp. 100-101)

We must begin by noting again that what Teilhard de Chardin speaks of as having "seen" (he even speaks of having "come down from the mountain" after this vision) is the "great vision" of a "cosmic liturgy" to which the present Pope refers in his homily at Aosta. Therefore, we are not here speaking of some individual fantasy which has had little effect upon the reigning thinking within the Catholic Church. Nor are we dealing with something which is taken seriously only by "Catholic" Modernists. In an article titled The Occult Character of the United Nations, author Alan Morrison writes the following:

I have often spoken about the fact that the United Nations is an organization which has been widely infiltrated by occultists and propagators of the ‘New Spirituality’ (New Ageism). In the book The Aquarian Conspiracy, by Marilyn Ferguson, a survey of New Agers showed that the leading influence on their spiritual ‘awakening’ was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The occultist and well-known ‘channeller’, Dr. Robert Muller, who was an Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations until recently, wrote in one of his books: "Teilhard [de Chardin] had always viewed the United Nations as the progressive institutional embodiment of his philosophy" (Robert Muller, ed., The Desire to be Human: A Global Reconnaissance of Human Perspectives in an Age of Transformation, Miranana, 1983, p. 304). As the darling of the ‘New Spirituality’, Teilhard de Chardin rigorously applied his monist, evolutionary philosophy to the world political situation, leading him to advocate a vision of some kind of one-world government. In his book The Future of Man (Harper & Row, 1955, p.182), he wrote: "Although the form is not yet discernible, mankind tomorrow will awaken to a 'pan-organized' world’."

It is absolutely essential, therefore, that we take to a careful study of Teilhard de Chardin in order to understand where his current philosophical and theological aberrations are leading the Church and the world. It is especially demanding of Catholic traditionalists to comprehend what this might entail for the liturgical “Reform of the Reform.” and for what Cardinal Koch has termed “the common rite” of the future.

Teilhard’s Spiritual Journey to the New Age
Great intellectual perversities in adulthood usually demand distortions of normal childhood perceptions and desires.  Teilhard de Chardin himself wants us to understand the childhood roots of his spiritual journey, and so I quote the following description of his first memory:

A memory? My very first! I was five or six. My mother had snipped a few of my curls. I picked one up and held it close to the fire. The hair was burnt up in a fraction of a second. A terrible grief assailed me; I had learnt that I was perishable.... What used to grieve me when I was a child? This insecurity of things. And what used I to love? My genie of iron! With a plow hitch I believed myself, at seven years, rich with a treasure incorruptible, everlasting. And then it turned out that what I possessed was just a bit of iron that rusted. At this discovery I threw myself on the lawn and shed the bitterest tears of my existence!” [From a 1938 edition of The Heart of Matter, translated by Claude Cuenot].

In his autobiography, The Heart of Matter, Teilhard begins by stating that the "axis" which gives continuity to his whole life is the innate "Pleromic Sense" which has been with him since earliest childhood — the appetite for some "Unique all-sufficing and necessary reality" (p 16-17). He describes a mental state as a child in which, although he was devoted to the child Jesus, "In reality, however, my real ‘me’ was elsewhere…. I withdrew into the contemplation, the possession, into the so relished existence of my ‘Iron God'… nothing in the world was harder, heavier, tougher, more durable than this marvelous substance apprehended in its fullest possible form… Consistence: that has undoubtedly been for me the fundamental attribute of Being."

In other words, at an age when healthy children "relish" in the love of mother, father, and siblings, Teilhard withdrew into a contemplative relation with the iron "lock-pin of a plow" (p. 18-19).

Having been betrayed by the rusting lock-pin, Teilhard moved on to rocks (they don’t rust), and especially quartz. This passion stayed with him the rest of his life. He writes, "The truth is that even at the peak of my spiritual trajectory I was never to feel at home unless immersed in an Ocean of Matter…" (p. 20).

The problem in all of this, of course, is what to do with living things. Teilhard writes that, "Because of its apparent fragility…the living World greatly worried and disconcerted me as a child." On the one hand he was drawn to it by his "Pleromic Sense" (there is, after all, a certain obvious plenitude of being in living things that is not in rocks); on the other he was repulsed and terrified by their inconsistency and fragility. He admits that, because of this conflict, "I had at that time [28 years old] come to a standstill in my awakening to Cosmic Life, and I could not start again without the intervention of a new force or a new illumination" (pp. 23-24). In other words, at the age of 28, he was still looking for a justification for relishing the living over the dead.

It is interesting that at this stage of development (if we care to grace it with such a term), Teilhard was tempted by Eastern Mysticism. Having found no real object in this world to answer his quest for "Plenitude," he was tempted to go entirely beyond this world into the formless Monism of Eastern Philosophy and Mysticism. He states that such would have been the case "had it not been that just at the appropriate moment the idea of Evolution germinated in me, like a seed: whence it came I cannot say" (p. 24).

Evolution became for our philosopher a "magic word… which haunted my thoughts like a tune: which was to me like an unsatisfied hunger, like a promise held out to me, like a summons to be answered…." (p.24). It was in fact Evolution which enabled Teilhard to transfer his Sense of Plenitude from the "ultra-material" (iron and rocks) to the "ultra living," He writes:

You can well imagine, accordingly, how strong was my inner feeling of release and expansion when I took my first still hesitant steps into an ‘evolutive’ Universe, and saw that the dualism in which I had hitherto been enclosed was disappearing like the mist before the rising sun. Matter and Spirit these were no longer two things, but two states or two aspects of one and the same cosmic Stuff…. (p. 26).

It was Paleontology which provided the key for Teilhard:

By its gravitational nature, the Universe, I saw, was falling — falling forwards — in the direction of Spirit as upon its stable form. In other words, Matter was not ultra-materialized as I would at first have believed, but was instead metamorphosed into Psyche. Looked at not metaphysically, but genetically, Spirit was by no means the enemy or the opposite of the Tangibility which I was seeking to attain: rather was it its very heart [Spirit, in other words, is the Heart of Matter] (p.28).

Matter is the matrix of Spirit. Spirit is the higher state of Matter (p. 35).

According to Teilhard, matter itself is under pressure everywhere by a directional spirit and energy which is "an extraordinary capacity for consolidation by complexification." It is this "complexification" which eventually produces living organisms in the "Biosphere," and it is further "complexification" which eventually produces the critical point at which living organisms become conscious and reflective:

Reflection, the ‘cosmic’ critical point which at a given moment is inevitably met and traversed by all Matter, as soon as it exceeds a certain degree of psychic temperature and organization (p. 35).

But this is by no means the end of the evolutionary process.

The Evolution of the Noosphere
Individual consciousness and self-reflection are not the terminus of the evolutionary process of complexification. It is only the beginning of what Teilhard calls the evolution of the Noosphere. The word "Noosphere" should not scare us. It is derived from the Greek word for mind: Nous. Teilhard teaches that this Noosphere is not just an abstract concept, but a living reality surrounding the planet — what he calls "a gigantic planetary contraction." Its very nature is that it is unitive and involutive, in that it moves towards a final total unity of all minds in a "Super-Mind." Thus:

“The irresistible ‘setting’ or cementing together of a thinking mass (Mankind) which is continually more compressed upon itself by the simultaneous multiplication and expansion of its individual elements: there is not one of us, surely, who is not almost agonizingly aware of this, in the very fibre of his being. This is one of the things that no one today would even try to deny: we can all see the fantastic anatomical structure of a vast phylum [social, psychic, informational, etc.] whose branches, instead of diverging as they normally do, are ceaselessly folding in upon one another ever more closely, like some monstrous inflorescence — like, indeed, an enormous flower folding-in upon itself; the literally global physiology of an organism in which production, nutrition, the machine, research, and the legacy of heredity are, beyond any doubt, building to planetary dimensions [one can only imagine the ‘fuel’ which the Internet would have provided for Teilhard’s ‘Great Vision’]…. Writing in the year 1950, I can say that the evolution of my inner vision culminates in the acceptance of this evident fact, that there is a ‘creative’ tide which (as a strict statistic consequence of their increasing powers of self-determination) is carrying the human ‘mega-molecules’ towards an almost unbelievable quasi ‘mono-molecular’ state; and in that state, as the biological laws of Union demand, each ego is destined to be forced convulsively beyond itself into some mysterious super-ego (pp. 37-38).

[We might well imagine the delight of any sort of Antichrist figure at the prospect that he has both divine and evolutionary sanction to "convulsively force" all men into "some mysterious super-ego."]

Thus, we have reached what Teilhard considers the Omega point of Natural Evolution. This, however, is not the end of the story. Parallel to Natural Evolution, there must also be seen in the Teilhardian system an "axis" of Evolution of the Divine.

The Christic
In the "Great Vision" of Teilhard de Chardin, the historical Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ is not an ontological event which accomplishes our redemption, but rather the beginning of a larger evolutionary process. For Teilhard, the multiplicity of things in this world is "irreducible," and there is therefore no "organic relationship of dependence" between them and God (p. 93-94). There is therefore something "incomplete" in God and in Christ which can only be remedied by His evolutionary incorporation in all matter:

It is Christ, in very truth, who saves, — but should we not immediately add that at the same time it is Christ who is saved by Evolution? (p. 92)

Teilhard teaches a double evolutionary movement in the universe, and a final convergence between what he calls the "God of the Ahead" and the "God of Above." The God of the Ahead is the result of natural evolution from the geosphere (inanimate matter), to the biosphere (living things), to the noosphere (consciousness), and finally to the collective "Super-Mind" in the Omega Point. But the God of the Above also entails an evolutionary process by which God, through natural evolution, incarnates Himself in order to draw all things into final union with the Christic, which is something more than the historical Christ. Teilhard writes:

On one side — in my ‘pagan’ ego — a Universe which was becoming personalized through convergence [Natural Evolutionary Complexification leading to consciousness, next to the building up of the Noosphere, and finally to unity in the ‘Super-Mind or Omega Point]. On the other side — in my Christian ego — a Person — the Person of Christ who was becoming universal through Radiation. By each of these two roads, that is to say, the Divine was joining itself, through all Matter, to all the Human, in the direction of the infinity of the ages lying ahead... (p. 44).

Classical metaphysics had accustomed us to seeing in the World — which it regarded as an object of ‘Creation’ — a sort of extrinsic product which had issued from God’s supreme efficient power as the fruit of his overflowing benevolence. I find myself now irresistibly led — and this precisely because it enables me both to act and to love in the fullest degree — to a view that harmonizes with the spirit of St. Paul: I see in the World a mysterious product of completion and fulfillment for the Absolute Being himself (p.54).

…the Christ of Revelation is none other than the Omega of Evolution (p.92).

All of this obviously demands an entirely new view of Christianity, of the Church, of Revelation, of Christ, and of our sanctification in Him. It also demands a "New Mass."

A Cosmic Liturgy and Transubstantiation
Having detailed the nature of cosmic evolution, both Natural and Christic, Teilhard then breaks forth in a description of the "true" Cosmic Liturgy:

And then there appears to the dazzled eyes of the believer the Eucharistic mystery itself, extended infinitely into a veritable universal transubstantiation, in which the words of the Consecration applies not only to the sacrificial bread and wine but, mark you, to the whole mass of joys and sufferings produced by the Convergence of the World as it progresses (p. 94).

The first sentence of The Mass on the World reads as follows:

Since once again, Lord — though this time not in the forests of the Aisne but in the steppes of Asia — I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself  [Note: there is no way that Teilhard could use these words, and make this juxtaposition if he believed in the substantial, Real Presence of Christ after the Consecration]; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world (p. 119).

And, a little further on, he elaborates:

This restless multitude, confused or orderly, the immensity of which terrifies us; this ocean of humanity whose slow, monotonous wave-flows trouble the hearts even of those whose faith is most firm: it is to this deep that I thus desire all the fibres of my being should respond. All the things in the world to which this day will bring increase; all those that will diminish; all those too that will die: all of them, Lord, I try to gather into my arms, so as to hold them out to you in offering. This is the material of my sacrifice; the only material you desire.

Once upon a time men took into your temple the first fruits of their harvests, the flower of their flocks. But the offering you really want, the offering you mysteriously need every day to appease your hunger, to slake your thirst is nothing less than the growth of the world borne ever onwards in the stream of universal becoming.

Receive, O Lord, this all-embracing host which your whole creation, moved by your magnetism, offers you at this dawn of a new day (p. 121).

Such is the "Living Liturgy," the "Great Vision," of Teilhard de Chardin. It is now largely dominant within the Church, including the mind of the present Pope. It necessitates the dissolution of all things truly Catholic.

 

 

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