Hope amid Darkness


STS_119 Launch March 15

STS_119 Launch March 15

As we approach Advent where we delve deep into darkness. The liturgical calendar focuses our attention on the end times. The horrific attack on humanity in Paris last week immerses us in evil, darkness that abounds. We sense that we are living in “end times.”

How we react to end times and dark evil is up to us. The Bible tells us that we have choices–life and death–and enjoins us to choose life.

Life is a crap shoot–a gamble amid darkness and uncertainty. Pascal understood this in his Pensees. Pascal’s Wager is that we should throw the dice and live as if God is real; otherwise, we might end up in eternal damnation. If God is not real, what have we lost?

Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit paleontologist, understood that life is a choice. Chardin’s gamble is that creation is evolving toward the Onega Point which is the fullness of the Cosmic Christ. We can gamble on living in hope–the advent message for the dark times. Sartre, among others, says that we are responsible for our choices. We create our own reality. Chardin invites us to co-create with the God-incarnate in the very matter of the cosmos. Living in hope among the deepest darkness brings about the reign of the Cosmic Christ when all shall be complete and all tears and fears shall be wiped away.

Scientific materialism sees nothing more that matter and human life which ends in death. Our Christian heritage tells us there is more than that. The God of the old cosmology is up there and out there. The Evolutionary God—the God of the new cosmology—is up ahead calling us become more than what we are. God incarnate in the cosmos is inviting us to overcome selfishness and our innate survival instinct. We can live in the world and love it into greater being.

My anam cara, Thomas Merton, understood that there is more to matter and creation than we see with the naked eye. Like an infrared camera, Merton’s wisdom enables us to see what we cannot see:

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a
dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden whole-
This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom,
the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all
things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence
that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in word-
less gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen
roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly,
saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at
once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of
my Creator’s Thought and Art within me, speaking
as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom.

I am awakened, I am born again at the voice of this,
my Sister, sent to me from the depths of the divine

We are awakened to be born again—to co-create life in abundant love. Chardin, like Merton, sees the “hidden face” of reality as he peers deep into the mystery of God incarnate in matter. William Blake, Merton’s mentor, taught Merton that everything is sacred—everything!

Chardin wrote:

Seeing. One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing — if not ultimately, at least essentially. To be more is to be more united — and this sums up and is the very conclusion of the work to follow. But unity grows, and we will affirm this again, only if it is supported by an increase of consciousness, of vision. That is probably why the history of the living world can be reduced to the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes at the heart of a cosmos where it is always possible to discern more. Are not the perfection of an animal and the supremacy of the thinking being measured by the penetration and power of synthesis of their glance? To try to see more and to see better is not, therefore, just a fantasy, curiosity, or a luxury. See or perish. This is the situation imposed on every element of the universe by the mysterious gift of existence. And thus, to a higher degree, this is the human condition. (http://www.teilharddechardin.org/index.php/teilhards-quotes)

See more. Look deeper, awake to the divine summons to become more. Arise to greater consciousness. John Haught says that this our human story which is still evolving into the fullness of the Cosmic Christ. Such is Advent hope in a world still much immersed in darkness.

Chardin challenges us to harness forces for the good and beautiful. I think this may be his most profound statement about becoming more:

The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.

The choice is ours. We can live in despair or we can bet on Life Incarnate bringing all things to completion. We can be the very fire of the New Creation!

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