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Posted June 22, 2004

Book: The Divine Milieu
Author: Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, Portland, pp.123

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Pierre Teihard de Chardin’s spiritual masterpiece is addressed t those who have lost faith in conventional religion but who still have a sense of the divine at the heart of the cosmos. He sees a universe in movement where progress is the spiritualization of matter and its opposite is the materialization of spirit. Teilhard opts for progress. The Divine Milieu is both the divine center and the divine circle, the divine heart and the divine sphere.

The Divine Milieu is written for those who listen primarily to the voices of the Earth: its purpose is to provide a link to traditional Christianity (as expressed in Baptism, Cross and Eucharist) in order to demonstrate that the fears prevalent in contemporary world society as it abuses its very foundation — Mother Earth — may be better understood by the Gospel path. Teilhard’s primary purpose is to show a way forward which he sees as the “Christian religious belief.”

An Excerpt from the Book:

To sum up, we can say that, compared to all the main historical forms assumed by the human religious spirit, Christian mysticism extracts all that is sweetest and strongest circulating in all the human mysticisms, without absorbing their evil or suspect elements. It shows an astonishing equilibrium between the active and passive, between possession of the world and its renunciation, between a taste for things and an indifference to them. Why should we be astonished by this shifting harmony? Is it not the natural and spontaneous reaction of the soul to the stimulus of a milieu which is exactly, by nature and grace, the one in which that soul is made to live and develop itself? Just as, at the center of the divine milieu, all the sounds of created being are fused, without being confused, in a single note which dominates and sustains them (that seraphic note, no doubt, which bewitched S. Francis), so all the powers of the soul begin to resound in response to its call; and these multiple tones, in their turn, compose themselves into a single, ineffably simple vibration in which all the spiritual nuances — of love and intellect, of ardor and calm, of fullness and ecstasy, of passion and indifference, of assimilation and surrender, of rest and movement — are born, pass and shine forth, according to time and circumstance, like the countless possibilities of an interior attitude, inexpressible and unique.

And if any words could translate that permanent and lucid intoxication better than others, perhaps they would be ‘passionate indifference.’

To have access to the divine milieu is to have found the unique necessary being, that is, the one who burns by enflaming everything that we would love badly or insufficiently; the one who calms by eclipsing with his flames everything that we would love too much; the one who consoles by gathering up everything that has been torn away from our love or has never been given to it. To reach these priceless layers is to experience, with equal truth, that we have need of everything, and that we have need of nothing. We have need of everything because the world will never be large enough to provide our zest for action with the means of grasping God, or our thirst for undergoing with the possibility of being invaded by him. And yet we have need of nothing: because the only reality which can satisfy us lies beyond the transparencies in which it is mirrored, everything that fades away and dies between us will only serve to give back reality to us with greater purity. Everything means both everything and nothing to me; everything is God to me and everything is dust to me: that is what we can say with equal truth, in accord with how the divine ray falls.

‘Which do you think the greater of the two beatitudes,’ someone once asked, ‘to have the sublime unity of God to center and save the universe? Or to have the concrete immensity of the universe by which to undergo and touch God?’

We shall not seek to escape this joyful uncertainty. But now that we are familiar with the attributes of the divine milieu, we shall turn our attention to the Thing itself which appeared to us in the depth of each being, like a radiant countenance, like a fascinating abyss. And now we can ask him, ‘who are you, Lord?’

Table of Contents:

Part One: The Divinization of Our Activities

1. The Christian problem of the sanctification of action
2. an incomplete solution: sanctification by intention alone
3. The definitive solution: completion of the world ‘in Christo Jesu’
4. Communion through action
5. Christian perfection of human effort
A. Sanctification of human effort
B. Humanization of Christian effort
6. Detachment through action

Part Two: The Divinization of Our Passivities

1. Extent, depth and forms of human passivities
2. Passivities of growth: the two hand of God
3. Passivities of diminishment
A. Struggle with God against evil
B. Our apparent failure and its transfiguration
C. Communion through diminishment
D. True resignation

Conclusion to Parts One and Two: General Remarks on Christian Asceticism
1. Attachment and detachment
2. The sense of the Cross
3. The spiritual power of matter

Part Three: The Divine Milieu

1. Attributes of the divine milieu
2. Nature of the divine milieu: the Universal Christ and the great communion
3. Growth of the divine milieu
A. The appearance of the divine milieu: the zest for being and the diaphany of God
B. Individual progress in the divine milieu: purity, faith and fidelity – the operatives
C. Collective progress in the divine milieu: the communion of saints and charity
Remarks on the individual value of the divine milieu
Intensification of the divine milieu through charity
Outer darkness and lost souls


Awaiting the Parousia