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object:Hymn of the Universe
author class:Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
subject class:Christianity

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Perennial Library
Harper & Row, Publishers
New York, Evanston, San Francisco, London


from H. M. Queen Marie-Jo$6

P&re Teilhard de Chardin,.a figure-head in the un-
folding of a new cycle in the life of mankind, moves
us profoundly not only by the amazing lucidity of
his scientific vision but also by his love, his im-
mense love, of God, which enabled him to see, ev-
erywhere throughout the created world, what the
majority of men are blind to: the constant presence
of the Creator. Pere Teilhard was far from being a
pantheist; but he saw God, the First Cause, present
everywhere, and, filled as he was with reverence for
the material world, he lived always in direct aware-
ness of the spiritual. The most convincing proof of
what some have called the "saintiiness of Plre Teil-
hard" is his humility; and his humility is the pledge
of the greatness of his love.

January 1961 mabie-jos6


Translator's Note
Introduction by N. M. Wildiers, s.t.d.

The Offering
Fire over the Earth
Fire in the Earth

The Picture
The Monstrance
The Pyx

Hymn to Matter

PENSEES selected by Femande Tardivel
The Presence of God in the World
Humanity in Progress
The Meaning of Human Endeavor
In the Total Christ




In this book it is almost always Pre Teilhard the
man of prayer rather than the man of science who
speaks to us. As Sir Julian Huxley wrote of The
Mass on the World, it is a "truly poetical essay . .
at one and the same time mystical and realistic, re-
ligious and philosophical." This does not mean, of
course, that the author ever forgets or betrays his
science; what it does mean is that the reader's
approach, and response, to these pages must of ne-
cessity be quite different from those demanded by
the scientific works. The mystic, the poet use lan-
guage in a way essentially different from that of the

In his study of St John of the Cross in The De-
grees of Knowledge, M. Maritain defined this dif-
ference with clarity and exactitude in terms of the
contrast between the (poetical) language of the
mystic and the (scientific) language of the theolo-
gian, and pointed out the disastrous results of read-
ing the former as though it were the latter. The cum
of scientific language is to provide exactly defined
and unambiguous statements about reality; that of

2 Hymn of the Universe Sr

poetic language is to communicate reality itself, as
experienced, by means of imagery, evocation, tone,
and the ambiguity or rather ambivalence of par-
adox, of symbol That is not to say that poetic lan-
guage is nebulous, vague, uncertain: on the con-
trary, the cutting edge of great poetry is sharper
and digs deeper than that of any prose; But we
shall never hear what the mystic (or the poet or the
musician) has to tell us if we are listening on the
wrong wave-length.

"God needs man" said Angelus Silesius. If this
were a scientific-theological statement it would be
an absurdity, just as if Christ's "Lazarus our friend
is sleeping" were a scientific-medical statement it
would be a falsehood. The theologian has to re-
state, laboriously and at length, in his own lan-
guage what is contained in the mystic's flash of in-
tuition. (The words of Silesius come to mind
because there are lines in this book which both
echo them and elucidate them.) Thus there is no
need for us to be alarmed at such ideas as that of
God "animating" the world of matter, or of the
whole world "becoming incarnate": we shall find
plenty of parallels in St Paul and in the traditional
theological doctrine of the omnipresence of God.
And at the same time it should perhaps be said
that, while an acquaintance with P&re Teilhard's
scientific works must naturally be helpful in under-
standing fully this present book, it is by no means
necessary to know, still less to be in full agreement
with, the author's scientific theory in order to be
profoundly stirred and illumined by these pages.

The special response from the reader invited by

TramhtoSs Note 3

a book such as this is paralleled by the special <$e*
mands put upon the translator. Translation must al-
ways of course be a rendering not of word for word
but of idea for idea; to be content to transliterate
is merely illiterate. But whereas in translating sci-
entific prose the aim is simply to reproduce with
complete accuracy the author's statements, in
. translating "poetic" language the primary aim is not
just to reproduce statements about reality but, as
far as may be, to make the same communication of
reality which will mean trying to reproduce some^
thing of the author's "tone of voice," something of
the mood and color of the original. And, it may be
added, a poem (unlike a scientific treatise) may
well defy an exact "literal" rendering, even were it
the job of the translator to attempt one. (For in-
stance, quite apart from the untimely echos of
Alice, and of Sir Winston Churchill's first steps with
the Latin primer, which the phrase would arouse,
you just cannot, in English, say "O Matter!") la
this book, then, and especially in the earlier part, I
have sometimes resorted to a slight verbal elabora-
tion, either because there was no alternative if one
was to write English at all, or because two words
seemed necessary to convey the full "poetic" con-
tent of one word in the French, or again because a
verbal elaboration seemed more likely to communi-
cate the color (and color is of the essence of vi-
sion) of the original. But I think it is true to say
that nowhere have I made any substantial addition
to or alteration of the author's insights and ideas;
and to a great extent, especially in the latter part of
the book, it was in fact possible to cling closely not

4 Hymn of the Universe

only to the sense but also to the wording of the

The translation of the Latin in the footnotes fol-
lows the Douai version of the Bible.


"' ''.



This meditation suggested itself to P&re Teilhard
when, in the course of a scientific expedition, he
found himself one day out in the Ordos desert
where it was impossible for him to offer Mass. This
happened, it seems, on the feast of the Transfigura-
tion,* a feast for which he had a special love. His
thoughts therefore turned to the radiation of the
eucharistic presence of Christ through the universe.
He did not of course confuse that presence, the
effect of transubstantiation in the strict sense, with
the omnipresence of the divine Word. His faith in
the mystery of the Eucharist was not only ardent: it
was also as exact as it was firm. But his faith was
sufficiently strong and realistic to show him its con-
sequences (or, as he put it, the "prolongations" and

* Pere Teilhard could not have written The Mass on the
World on Easter Sunday 1923, as was reported by friends
from Peldn, for he did not reach the desert till August of
that year. There was doubtless a confusion between the two
feasts of Christ's glory. On a number of occasions Pere Teil-
hard expressed his special love for the feast of the Transfig-
uration. (Ed. note.)

6 Hymn qf the Universe ^

extensions). At a time ivhen individualism was still,
generally speaking, obscuring the fullness of tradi-
tional Catholic teaching on this mystery, he wrote;
"When Christ comes to one of his faithful it is not
simply in order to commune with him as an indi-
vidual; . .,- . when, through the mouth of the priest,
he says Hoc est corpus meufn, these words extend
beyond the morsel of bread over which they are
said: they give birth to the whole mystical body of
Christ. The effect of the priestly act extends
beyond the consecrated host to the cosmos itself
...... The entire realm of matter is slowly but ir-

restibly affected by this great consecration." *

Earlier, in 1917, P&re Teilhard had written, in Le

"Wheji Christ, extending the process of his incar-
nation, descends into the bread in order to replace
it, his action is not limited to the material morsel
which his presence will, for a brief moment, volatil-
ize: this transubstantiation is aureoled with a real
though attentuated divinizing of the entire uni-
verse. From the particular cosmic element into
which he has entered, the activity of the Word goes
forth to subdue and to draw into himself, all the

Such passages as these not only contain an exact
affirmation of the essence of the eucharistic mys-
tery, but also make an equally exact distinction be-
tween the essential mystery and the further effects
in which its fecundity is manifested: the growth of

* This was written in the same year as The Mass on the



Introduction to the Mass on the World 7

Christ's mystical body, the consecration of tihe cos-
mos. They also bear witness to a plenitude of faith
in which P&re Teilhard's thought is revealed as
being authentically and profoundly in accord with
th$ thought of St Paul He "shows himself preoccu-
pied above all with giving his daily Mass a cosmic
function and planetary dimensions. . . . This, of
course, he considered could be linked up with the
most orthodox theology of the holy Eucharist"*

A year after writing The Mass on the World,
P&re Teilhard further defined his thought, in Men
Univers: "To interpret adequately the fundamental
position of the Eucharist in the economy of the
world ... it is, I think, necessary that Christian
thought and Christian prayer should give great im-
portance to the real and physical extensions of the
eucharistic Presence. ... As we properly use the
term "our bodies" to signify the localized center of
our spiritual radiations ... so it must be said that
in its initial and primary meaning the term TBody
of Christ" is limited, in this context, to the conse-
crated species of Bread and Wine. But ... the host
is comparable to a blazing fire whose flames spread
out like rays all round it."


* Nicolas Corter The Life and Soul of Teilhard de Chardin
(Eng. trans. Barrie & Rockliff, 1960), p. 26.


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--- DICTIONARIES (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)

--- QUOTES [0 / 0 - 0 / 0] (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)

KEYS (10k)


*** NEWFULLDB 2.4M ***

--- IN CHAPTERS (in Dictionaries, in Quotes, in Chapters)


   15 Christianity
   2 Science

   15 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

   13 Hymn of the Universe
   2 Let Me Explain

1.01_-_The_Offering, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  12 Hymn of the Universe

1.02_-_Fire_over_the_Earth, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  14 Hymn of the Universe
  16 Hymn of the Universe ."

1.03_-_Fire_in_the_Earth, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  18 Hymn of the Universe
  20 Hymn of the Universe
  22 Hymn of the Universe

1.04_-_Communion, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  24 Hymn of the Universe
  26 Hymn of the Universe

1.05_-_Prayer, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  28 Hymn of the Universe
  30 Hymn of the Universe
  36 Hymn of the Universe -

2.01_-_The_Picture, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  38 Hymn of the Universe
  40 Hymn of the Universe

2.02_-_The_Monstrance, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  42 Hymn of the Universe
  44 Hymn of the Universe

2.03_-_The_Pyx, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  46 Hymn of the Universe
  48 Hymn of the Universe
  50 Hymn of the Universe
  56 Hymn of the Universe
  58 Hymn of the Universe
  60 Hymn of the Universe
  62 Hymn of the Universe
  64 Hymn of the Universe

3.01_-_Hymn_to_Matter, #Hymn of the Universe, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  66 Hymn of the Universe
  68 Hymn of the Universe

3.02_-_Mysticism, #Let Me Explain, #Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, #Christianity
  Priest (191 8) (in Writings in Time of War); The Mass on the
  World (1923) (in Hymn of the Universe) ; Le Milieu Divin (1927)
  (English translation i960); Human Energy (1937) (in Human


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