by Fr. JEAN CHARLES-ROUX
Activation of Energy by 'reithard de Chardin (Collins £2.25) AMONG the volumes com
posed posthumously by his friends, out of the writings left by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, this is one of the more important. It presents him, if I may so put it, without the fig leaf.
Rarely, indeed, has his perception and vision of universe, man and life been presented so clearly and completely. These texts moreover cover a period running from 1939 to 1955, that is, from the time of the full maturity of his thought and knowledge, right up to that sort of providential apotheosis of his sudden death in the splendid sunset of an Easter evening.
Though then well over seventy, he still had then the warmth and fire of a young man as is proved by one of the last essays of this volume : On Looking at a Cyclotrone. This century has produced few pages of such lyrical and poetical power.
As for the main theme of this collection of studies, one might perhaps summarise it as follows.
Times function is to develop and intensify life; and, as nothing in the universe is more live than man, time is ceaselessly increasing the place and part of man in creation : indeed, absorbing all that exists into man.
Teilhard stresses how civilisation, by making men more and more interdependent, contributes to the unification of humanity. He points out also that while Latin and Greek were the lingua franca of the community of people and nations from which Christianity arose, English is now the language that ris forging the intellectual and conscious unity of the human species.
Another of the important observations made by Teilhard in this volume is that everything, just as everyone, has an interior; and that it is in that "within" that the real nature of a thing or a person is to he found.
Hence in order to contribute with the fullness of his potentialities to the unification of mankind, each individual must live according to his deepest inner self which is linked in turn by personal communion with the Son of Man. Thus, While man by his power as a civilised creature is making the whole universe converge on him, he, by his personal love, must make humanity converge on Him, who is the Word from before the world, and the First born to Heaven.
As one closes this book one wonders, not without a profound melancholy, how it is that the world made so little of so great a genius, so radiant with Grace, while he was on this earth.