I first discovered Teilhard de Chardin’s writings in McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary in the 1960s, obtaining a donated copy of The Divine Milieu, which completely entranced me.
At the time I was also reading Jean Paul Sartre (Saint Genet) and G.I. Gurdjieff (All and Everything), using them as subjects in an informal discussion group a few of us organized, and I found a rough congruence in all three thinkers: plunging the depths, examining everything, and creating synthesis.
That period at McNeil Island, lasting roughly three years, formed the foundation upon which I eventually became a Catholic, and though I do not read Gurdjieff anymore, Sartre rarely, Teilhard is virtually a daily companion.
One of the places I daily visit is the Teilhard Blog and a recent post discussing an article where Teilhard’s censure by the Church was mentioned without the mention of the popes and theologians supporting Teilhard—one being Henri de Lubac—since then who have pretty much made the censure irrelevant.
I just discovered Henri de Lubac’s writings on Teilhard, through the Teilhard Blog by the way, and they have been a deeply appreciated addition to my Teilhard library.
I think they are all also in paperback but since I prefer the hardback those are the links I gave you and I’ve found better selection at Abe Books rather than Amazon—my general go-to site—for Teilhard, even having one shipped over from England.
So far, I’ve spent the most time with The Religion of Teilhard…as I received it first, and here is an excerpt showing why Cardinal de Lubac is such a good read about Teilhard:
“It will be noted that our questions relate principally to what he [Teilhard] appeared to do: and in more than one instance even the appearance vanishes as soon as one looks more closely. Pere Teilhard’s faith was as complete as it was ardent and firm. If he seemed to go beyond some positions generally adopted in the Church, he would never have been willing to lag behind any of them. It was simply that it fell to him to explore truths which, without being new, stretched out like continents untrodden by man. ‘St. Paul and the Greek Fathers speak of a cosmic function of Christ; the exact content of that phrase has never perhaps been brought out.’ That was precisely what he would have liked to find in the theology of his time—more light on the ‘organic and cosmic splendours contained in the Pauline doctrine of Christ gathering up all things’. The least then, we can do is to recognize that he will have done more than any other man of our time to open up a vast field of inquiry for theologians, and that they must make it their business to apply themselves to it. It is hardly to be wondered at that we can find some indecision in his writings, or things that are awkwardly expressed, or some lack of precision in his thought, or some verbal inconsistencies. He raised problems of great importance that urgently needed to be attacked but that he could not by himself solve completely. He opened up some wide avenues of research. He brought out a capital idea, the analysis of which he could not by himself carry further. It was Newman who, himself thereby expressing a very Teilhardian idea, warned us that by reason of the nature of the human mind it takes time to master a new idea.” (Italics in original, p. 203) De Lubac, H. (1967). The religion of Teilhard de Chardin. Desclee Company: New York.
I think I share with many, absolutely no doubt that Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. will, at some point, be recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint and Doctor of the Church.