Reprinted from Wonderful and Dark Is This Road: Discovering the Mystic Path with permission of Paraclete Press.

As long ago as 1926 Teilhard de Chardin was observing humanity going through a new process of growth and transformation. "What is happening under our eyes within the mass of peoples? What is the cause of this disorder in society, this uneasy agitation, these swelling waves, these whirling and mingling currents, and these turbulent and formidable new impulses?"Teilhard, himself a scientist, was referring to many convergent forces: the rapid pace of technological growth, the multiplying knowledge coming from the sciences, remarkable technical leaps in communications, as well as the growth of world population.Humanity, he insists, "is visibly passing through a crisis of growth .... becoming dimly aware of its shortcomings and its capacities." Humanity under this new kind of tension "sees the universe growing luminous like the horizon just before sunrise. It has a sense of premonition and attraction."And although he is a scientist he sees grace and prayer as actual forces in the cosmic drama: "If we want the divine milieu to grow all around us, then we must jealously guard all the forces of union, of desire, and of prayer that grace offers us. By the mere fact that our transparency will increase, the divine light, that never ceases to press in upon us, will erupt the more powerfully."This power of divinization that Teilhard speaks of is God's power acting in every dimension of our universe, drawing humanity together through power and grace. "Across the immensity of time and the disconcerting multiplicity of individuals, one single operation is taking place: the annexation to Christ of his chosen; one single thing is being made: the Mystical Body of Christ, starting from all the sketchy spiritual powers scattered throughout the world."
Teilhard says that each one of us is called to see God face to face; but that ultimate vision will be inseparably connected to the "elevating and illuminating action of Christ."The transforming effects of this divinization will link human beings one to another. "Our individual mystical effort awaits an essential completion in its union with the mystical effort of all other men."Teilhard is more hopeful about the advance of progress than many observers. Possibly that is because he says we are not in competition with God. "The greater man becomes, the more humanity becomes united, with consciousness of, and mastery of, its potentialities, the more beautiful creation will be, the more perfect adoration will become, and the more Christ will find, for mystical extensions, a body worthy of resurrection." I think Teilhard is here referring to all humanity as being drawn into the so-called "mystical body of Christ." Many will say he would not have been so sanguine if writing his book after the arrival of nuclear destruction. On the contrary, Teilhard reaffirmed his early vision:"Today, after forty years of constant reflection, it is still the same fundamental vision which I feel the need to set forth and to share, in its mature form, for the last time." The fundamental vision to which he refers is The Divine Milieu, expressing the presence of Christ in all things.How does Pierre Teilhard de Chardin propose that all humanity will come to be united in Christ? He does not say. He clearly is not suggesting a worldwide plan of house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood evangelization. Yet the faith he speaks of is an evangelical faith by which the world will be united and transformed in Christ. Teilhard believes that Christ will invade human hearts by flooding them with grace and love. God's plan, Teilhard insists, is firmly in place.

Such a vision of a world humanity united in Christ is not a political forecast. It is instead a mystical and prophetic foretelling of what Teilhard sees as the likely outcome of the powerful presence of Christ in the world, and also as its messianic hope. Such will be our politics, social science and economics if we entrust them to mystic scientists like Teilhard.

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