United in death

Daily Reading for April 10 • The Fifth Sunday in Lent

Uniting oneself means, in every case, migrating, and dying partially in what one loves. But if, as we are sure, this being reduced to nothing in the other must be all the more complete the more we give our attachment to one who is greater than ourselves, then we can set no limits to the tearing up of roots that is involved on our journey into God. . . . We have not yet crossed the critical point of our ex-centration, of our reversion to God. There is a further step to take: the one that makes us lose all foothold within ourselves. We are still not lost to ourselves. What will be the agent of that definitive transformation? Nothing else than death.

In itself, death is an incurable weakness of corporeal beings. . . . Now the great victory of the Creator and Redeemer, in the Christian vision, is to have transformed what is in itself a universal power of diminishment and extinction into an essentially life-giving factor. God must, in some way or other, make room for himself, hollowing us out and emptying us, if he is finally to penetrate into us. And in order to assimilate us in him, he must break the molecules of our being so as to re-cast and re-model us. The function of death is to provide the necessary entrance into our inmost selves. It will make us undergo the required dissociation. It will put us into the state organically needed if the divine fire is to descend upon us. And in that way its fatal power to decompose and dissolve will be harnessed to the most sublime operations of life. What was by nature empty and void, a return to bits and pieces, can, in any human existence, become fullness and unity in God.

From The Divine Milieu by Teilhard de Chardin (New York: Harper & Row, 1960).

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