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La messe sur le toit du monde par Teilhard de Chardin

First the orignial text in question, in French,
then my reaction, reservation and conclusion re: this particular text, in English.

Extraits de TEILHARD DE CHARDIN: Hymne de l'univers (p. 21):
Puisqu'une fois encore, Seigneur, dans les steppes d'Asie, je n'ai ni pain, ni vin, ni autel, je m'élèverai par-dessus les symboles jusqu'à la pure majesté du Réel, et je vous offrirai, moi votre prêtre, sur l'autel de la Terre entière, le travail et la peine du Monde. Le soleil vient d'illuminer, là-bas, la frange extrême du premier Orient. Une fois de plus, sous la nappe mouvante de ses feux, la surface vivante de la Terre s'éveille, frémit, et recommence son effrayant labeur. Je placerai sur ma patène, ô mon Dieu, la moisson attendue de ce nouvel effort. Je verserai dans mon calice la sève de tous les fruits qui seront aujourd'hui broyés. Mon calice et ma patène, ce sont les profondeurs d'une âme largement ouverte à toutes les forces qui, dans un instant, vont s'élever de tous les points du globe et converger vers l'Esprit. Qu'ils viennent donc à moi, le souvenir et la mystique présence de ceux que la lumière éveille pour une nouvelle journée. Un à un, Seigneur, je les vois et les aime. [...]

Vue panoramique de la Vallee du Haut-Giffre

Je les évoque, ceux dont la troupe anonyme forme la masse innombrable des vivants ; ceux qui viennent et ceux qui s'en vont ; ceux-là surtout qui, dans la vérité ou à travers l'erreur, à leur bureau, à leur laboratoire ou à l'usine, croient au progrès des Choses, et poursuivront passionnément aujourd'hui la lumière. Cette multitude agitée, trouble et distincte, dont l'immensité nous épouvante, cet océan humain, dont les lentes et monotones oscillations jettent le trouble dans les cœurs les plus croyants, je veux qu'en ce moment mon être résonne à son murmure profond. Tout ce qui va augmenter dans le monde au cours de cette journée, tout ce qui va diminuer, tout ce qui va mourir aussi, voilà, Seigneur, ce que je m'efforce de ramasser en moi pour vous le tendre; voilà la matière de mon sacrifice, le seul dont vous ayez envie.

Recevez, Seigneur, cette Hostie totale que la Création, mue par votre attrait, vous présente à l'aube nouvelle. Ce pain, notre effort, il n'est de lui-même, je le sais, qu'une désagrégation immense. Ce vin, notre douleur, il n'est encore, hélas ! qu'un dissolvant breuvage. Mais au fond de cette masse informe, vous avez mis un irrésistible et sanctifiant désir qui nous fait tous crier, depuis l'impie jusqu'au fidèle : "Seigneur, faites-nous un".

   My first reaction
      then my own concerns
         finally my own testimony towards the formative power of the Eucharist

La messe sur le toit du monde. When I first read this text from Teilhard, I was enthusiast about the universality of its appeal and its christocentric quality. Plus Teilhard says it all in very poetic and loving terms. And I chose a photo of la Vallee du Haut Giffre taken from Joux Plane to illustrate it. When I am on a mountain top (or as high as I can possibly get) and when I reach a panoramic view, I feel elated and grateful at the same time, it gives me a sense of the infinitely grand that Pascal talked about, a clear sense of the grandiose dimension of Creation and therefor I feel very grateful to be here and be able to see so far… The horizon has been pushed back, way farther than usual. I get an extreme awareness of the universe, being at that particular moment, in that particular geographic spot, with all of my capacity to reason and to feel coming in sync in one wonderful revelatory view, a blessed moment each time….

So when I read the above text from Teilhard, I related to his fervor from “the roof of the world” and his love of the Eucharist and I liked it and I posted it on my site. But later on, I reread the excerpt and noticed more the words "je m'eleverai par dessus les symbols" (“I will rise above the symbols”) and I was taken back, so much so that I wanted to delete this post. What is he talking about? Is he, in any way, even remotely, suggesting that the Eucharist is "symbolic"? O how far this is from reality! How contrary to the truth. I know that numerous Christians might think so, especially in Protestant circles and, who knows, possibly in Catholic ones too, but the truth is that Christ is alive and coming to us at each Eucharist when we do welcome him with love, faith and humility. This is a truth that has changed my life and is sustaining me daily!

And whether some of us are not able to accept this yet (as I myself once was) is a whole different question, the shortcomings of some does not justify altering the truth of the matter. So “rising above the symbols” is kind of bizarre…. St Paul himself said so and there is a long and enormous line of believers who understand deeply how Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and how his Passion and Resurrection have changed the world and the consequence that it brought for each one of us, each time. Since the early days of the Church, the correct and orthodox understanding of the sacraments of the Catholic faith is nourishing humanity and has generated saints and martyrs along the way. It has also generated a deeper faith (very much alive) and a different and larger world view (beyond what the eyes of the body can see) in your average simple believer, like myself! I call it simple, but since the Christian faith is all about love and trust and respect, the word simple is absolutely appropriate. It is simple but it is absolutely valid, which is why the correct understanding matters. Jesus said that He loves me and I should love God and neighbor. So I listen to Him and believe in Him.
And my life was - and is - transformed!

When I follow Him and love Him and love my neighbor then I am a part of the Body of Christ. And I want to write about it and share it. But whether or not someone agrees with me, that I leave to God. But I can pray for that person. I know first hand how easily it is to close doors without realizing it, so praying and asking for blessings on that person is the best I can do. When I came back to the Church, I realized slowly but clearly that it was through the grace of God and thanks to the prayers of people I might not always know… Although I do know that my grandmother did pray for me. And possibly others around me and that one day, I will find out exactly who did! And it brings a smile to my face just to think about it.

Back to Teilhard: I must admit I also tried to read other texts from him and I found them confusing, he seemed to go off on a tangent often… and I thought that I could see why the Church deemed him dangerously misguided. Plus if the Church asked him to stop writing erroneously then why would he continue? A saint in the making would obey, right? Would take it as a formative moment and give it all to God.

Another simple thought crossed my mind too: What about if I’m misreading him right now, what about if he only said “symbols” because he was aware of not having the proper setting of a church, an altar and a blessed host? What about if I’m the one going on a tangent and doing a half-baked reading? Oh la la…
I do remember how much joy it brought me initially to post his text and my photo, it was a joy filled with gratitude towards Christ.
So I left the post, with this addendum.

Copyright©2005-2023Michele Szekely

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