Two Altars at the End of Time
Laudato Si: A Manifesto of Teilhardian Theology
“And then there appears to the dazzled eyes of the believer the Eucharistic mystery itself, extended infinitely into a veritable universal transubstantiation, in which the words of the Consecration applies not only to the sacrificial bread and wine but, mark you, to the whole mass of joys and sufferings produced by the Convergence of the World as it progresses.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter, Harcourt, 1978 – see chapter titled The Christic – p. 94).
“Since once again, Lord – though this time not in the forests of the Aisne but in the steppes of Asia – I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself [Note: there is no way that Teilhard could use these words, and make this juxtaposition, if he believed in the substantial, Real Presence of Christ after the Consecration]; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world.” (Ibid., p. 119 – this is the first sentence of Teilhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World).
“On the other hand, I cannot fail to feel around me – if only from the way in which ‘my ideas’ are becoming more widely accepted – the pulsation of countless people who are all – ranging from the border-line of belief to the depths of the cloister – thinking and feeling, or at least beginning vaguely to feel, just as I do. It is indeed heartening to know that I am not a lone discoverer, but that I am, quite simply, responding to the vibration that (given a particular condition of Christianity of the world) is necessarily active in all the souls around me…..Everywhere on Earth, at this moment, in the new spiritual atmosphere created by the appearance of the idea of evolution, there float, in a state of extreme mutual sensitivity, love of God and faith in the world: the two essential components of the Ultra-human. These two components are everywhere ‘in the air’; generally, however, they are not strong enough, both at the same time, to combine with one another in one and the same subject. In me, it happens by pure chance (temperament, upbringing, background) that the proportion of the one to the other is correct, and the fusion of the two has been effected spontaneously – not as yet with sufficient force to spread explosively — but strong enough nevertheless to make it clear that the process is possible — and that sooner or later there will be a chain-reaction.” (op. cit., The Christic, p. 101-102).
The “chain-reaction” of which Teilhard de Chardin spoke in the above passage has taken sixty years to materialize. His work was censured by various Church officials for decades, culminating in the 1962 Monitum of the Holy Office exhorting “all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and of his followers”. As late as 1981, the Holy See issued a communiqué reaffirming this warning.
However, running parallel to this official position of the Holy See, many prominent theologians, philosophers, and even bishops and Cardinals, rose up in Teilhard’s defense. Henri de Lubac wrote three books during the 1960’s dedicated to this purpose. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen went so far as to prophesize in 50 years it would be very likely that Teilhard “will appear like John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, as the spiritual genius of the twentieth century. (Footprints in a Darkened Forest, Meredith Press, 1967, p. 73).” Teilhard’s cosmic-evolutionary pantheism was also given some encouragement by statements of Popes such as Paul VI, and John Paul II. But, as documented in my article A Living Host: Cosmic Liturgy in the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin (found here: http://www.waragainstbeing.com/node/40), the real leap forward into theological acceptance must be credited to the writings and statements of Pope Benedict XVI. The following is probably the best known, but certainly not the most egregious, example of his embrace of Teilhardism:
“The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host”. (Benedict XVI, Homily, Celebration of Vespers with the Faithful of Aosta, July 24, 2009.
Teilhard’s Evolutionary Gnosticism has now been blessed with both the voice and the vehicle empowering it to be mainstreamed. The voice is that of Pope Francis, and the vehicle is his encyclical Laudato Si.
Just as uniting the concept of evolution to Christology provided the theological key to Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of all matter evolving towards the Omega Point of the “Christic” (this constituting his concept of a “Cosmic Liturgy”), so the ecological movement is now providing the necessary chemistry for the “explosion” of this poisoned theology and spirituality within the minds and hearts of millions of Catholics. Laudato Si is rightly seen as the manifesto of this revolution. Following are passages from this encyclical which speak of the universal transfiguration of all created things upon the evolutionary “altar of the world”.
83. The ultimate destiny of the universe is in the fullness of God, which has already been attained by the risen Christ, the measure of the maturity of all things. Here we can add yet another argument for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures. The ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things. Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love, and drawn by the fullness of Christ, are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.
236. It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation…. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours….Indeed the Eucharist is in itself an act of cosmic love: ‘Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world’.” (the quote at the end of this passage is from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia).
If we are tempted to deny the Teilhardian theology and cosmology in these passages, we need only to look at footnote#53 in the above quote. It contains the following comment: “Against this horizon we can set the contribution of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin”.
Three more examples:
237. On Sunday, our participation in the Eucharist has special importance. Sunday, like the Jewish Sabbath, is meant to be a day which heals our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others and with the world. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, the “first day” of the new creation, whose first fruits are the Lord’s risen humanity, the pledge of the final transfiguration of all created reality.
243. Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all.
244. In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast.
In order to see the grievous error represented in these passages from Laudato Si, we need only consult Holy Scripture, and the many passages from both Old and New Testaments which clearly reveal that the earth will totally perish and cease to be, that the world is not our lasting home, and that Christ’s assurance that He will “make all things new” in no way signifies a final transfiguration of any created thing, living or dead, which does not have a spiritual soul:
With desolation shall the earth be laid waste, and it shall be utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. (Isaiah 24:3)
For behold, I create new heaven, and a new earth: and the former things shall not be in remembrance, and they shall not come upon the heart. (Isaiah 65:1.)
Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass. (Matthew 24:35).
But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of the ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7)
But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence, and the elements shall be melted with heat, and the earth and the works which are in it, shall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness? Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat? But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwelleth. (2 Peter 3:10-13).
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more. (Apoc. 21: 1).
The Teilhardian spiritualism implicit in Pope Francis’ concept of the altar of the world, and his concept of the final transfiguration of all created things, demands that the above scriptures be considered false. If “matter is the prehistory of spirit” (Joseph Ratzinger’s phrase), and if, as Pope Francis teaches, all creatures are to be “resplendently transfigured” and be present at the “heavenly feast”, then all creatures possess a dignity and sacredness that demands an imperishability which parallels that of human beings. I again refer the reader to my article A Living Host: Liturgy, and the Dynamics of Cosmic Evolution In the Thought of Pope Benedict XVI and Teilhard de Chardin for a more complete discussion and documentation of these essential concepts of the cosmos as being a “Living Host”, and the earth as its evolutionary altar.
The “ecological spiritualism” proposed throughout Pope Francis’ Laudato Si therefore represents not just a lengthy and inappropriate descent of the Church into the science of this world, but is preeminently constituted as a manifesto for a totally radical change in Catholic theology and spirituality.
In the City of God, St. Augustine spoke of two Cities in combat for the souls of men: “These two Cities are made by two loves: the earthly City by love of oneself even to the contempt of God; the heavenly City by love of God even to the contempt of self.” (City of God, 14:2). Seventeen hundred years later, these two loves are now represented by two altars: the traditional Catholic altar which receives the Gift of Christ from above, and the altar of the world upon which man worships his own becoming, and the evolutionary ascent of all of creation.
There is, of course, a legitimate use of the expression “altar of the world”. Fatima has long been called the ‘Altar of the World” because pilgrims come from all over the world to worship at this place of Our Lady’s visitation. It is also true that the Mass itself might be considered the Altar of the World – wherever it is offered on this earth, God becomes present. But this is a far cry from the Teilhardian-inspired use of such terms as “altar of the world”, “Mass on the World”, or “altar of the earth” to connote a process of universal becoming by which the earth itself is to be seen as a “living host” being transfigured by an evolutionary processes which will culminate with all its creatures “resplendently transfigured” and “taken up into the heavenly feast”. Rightly we may view such a liturgy as being offered on the altar of Satan.
Laudato Si and Saint Francis of Assisi
The encyclical Laudato Si hides behind a falsification of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. We need to penetrate to the depth of this falsification of St. Francis if we are to understand not only what is at the root of this particular document and the ecological spiritualism which it embraces, but also the agenda of false mercy which seems to be the fundamental charism of Pope Francis’ pontificate.
It is incontestable that St. Francis possessed a very special relationship to creatures. But it was not a relationship which saw them as destined for evolutionary-Teilhardian transfiguration, but rather one which saw through them to God the Creator.
The title of the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si (“Praise Be to You”), is extracted from St. Francis Canticle of the Creatures (or Canticle of the Sun, as it is sometimes called). In paragraph 87, Pope Francis offers what at first sight appears to be the entire Canticle, but which in fact contains only seven of its fourteen stanzas. The phrase “Praise be to you” does not occur until the beginning of the third stanza, which is where St. Francis begins praise of God through individual creatures, and where Pope Francis begins his truncated version.
Elimination of the first two stanzas undermines the meaning of the entire Canticle. It obscures the most fundamental truth which St. Francis’ wished to present in this exalted hymn to the majesty and goodness of God – namely, that all praise is not to be directed towards any creature in itself, but through it, to God. These two stanzas read:
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
As St. Thomas writes “The perfection of all things pre-exist in God in a more eminent way.” In all attempts to make St. Francis into some sort of animal-loving Pantheist, Teilhardian or otherwise, this is the vital point that is always missed – the fact that all praise must go through creatures to God, Who has created them from nothing, and without Whom they would return to nothingness.
In St. Francis life, this truth concerning the transparency of all of creation expressed itself in a kind of divine poetry, extending even to inanimate things. In the early biography of St. Francis titled the Mirror of Perfection (#118), we read that St. Francis’ special love of water was due to the fact that “it symbolizes holy penitence and tribulation, and at Baptism the soul is cleansed from its stains and receives its first purification”. Thus, he would wash his hands in a place where the water would not be trodden underfoot as it fell to the ground. And, “For the same reason, whenever he had to walk over rocks, he trod reverently and fearfully, out of love for Christ Who is called The Rock”. He told a friar wood-cutter that he must never cut down the whole tree, but leave part of it intact, “out of love of Christ, Who willed to accomplish our salvation on the wood of the cross.” St. Francis’ life is replete with such accounts concerning his relationship to created things, both living and inanimate. But nowhere are we confronted with any suggestion that birds, fish, wolves, or rocks are destined for a Heavenly Feast.
Something similar must be said of St. Francis’ communication with animals. When he preached to the birds (and they appeared to follow his instructions), or shamed and tamed the Wolf of Gubbio, this does not at all entail an exultation of such animals to some sort of status of possessing a spiritual soul, or an eternal destiny. It would certainly seem that Francis was given a special grace of peace and innocence of soul (mirroring that which was possessed before original sin) which intuitively made animals his “friends”, and God certainly could provide the grace which made these same animals subject to his commands.
St. Francis’ relationship to all creatures, in other words, was firmly established in their individual reflection of some aspect of the Infinite Being and Goodness of God, and not in any sort of universal evolution towards transfigurement.
It is in the omission of stanza 13 of the Canticle, however, that we come to see why the spirituality of St. Francis must be seen as being diametrically opposed to that of Pope Francis. It reads:
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
For the second death shall do them no harm.
In any sort of evolutionary theology and spirituality, there can be no such thing as mortal sin. Incorporation of evolutionary thinking into the Catholic faith necessarily establishes the principle of “Gradualism” as the foundation of all philosophy and theology, and especially of moral theology. Where there is “universal becoming”, there can be no substantial being, no fixed natures. Where there is no fixed nature, there can be no “state” of mortal sin. There can only be ongoing, evolving “relationships”. Under the rule of such theology, the Church may indeed postulate a certain moral ideal which was lived and taught by Christ, but at the same time it must be inclusive towards all persons at their various stages of evolution towards that ideal. It is this Gradualism which was proposed by Cardinal Kasper in his inaugural address to the preparatory Consistory of Cardinals, convoked by the Pope at the end of April, 2014 in order to discuss the upcoming Synod on the Family. After reading Cardinal Kasper’s speech, Pope Francis said:
“Yesterday, before going to sleep – although I did not do this to put myself to sleep – I read or rather re-read the work of Cardinal Kasper, and I would like to thank him because I found profound theology, and even serene thinking in theology.”
There can be no doubt that Pope Francis endorses Teilhardian Gradualism.
Such is the “altar of the world” upon which Pope Francis, and many others within the hierarchy, wish us now to offer our worship. The October, 2015 Synod on the Family will serve to test its viability within the Church. The issues of “inclusiveness” towards homosexuals, and readmission of the divorced and remarried to Sacramental Communion can be seen as “pilot runs” intended to eventually enthrone the principle of Gradualism as the basis all of Catholic theology and philosophy. Its ultimate goal is to entirely eliminate the concept of immutable truth as determinate of pastoral practice, and to relegate such truths to the background as simply ideals for which we strive.
The Papacy has always functioned as the irreplaceable foundation of immutable truth, and therefore has constituted that which has “held back” the rise of the Antichrist (2Thess 2: 7 – for more extensive discussion of this subject, see my article The Forgotten Hope). With his active promotion of the Principle of Gradualism, Pope Francis is now effectively removing this barrier.
Additionally, in #175 of Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls for “a true world political authority” in order to “guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate Caritas in Veritate, which also called for such a world political authority “vested with the effective power which would enable it to “manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration”. (Caritas in Veritate, 67). In other words, both Benedict XVI and Francis, unbeknownst I am sure to themselves, have issued clarion calls for the ascension of Antichrist.
One of the most glaring contradictions present in Laudato Si is that Pope Francis rightly sees that political authority is itself at the center of the ecological crisis, being virtually always at the beck and call of financial greed and rapacious progress. Any notion therefore that a “world political authority” could be immune from such domination would therefore seem to indicate a most naïve Pelagianism. As Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If that were true in the 19th century when Christianity still held strong sway over the moral lives of individuals and nations, what is to be said now when what was once Christian civilization has plummeted into the depths of anti-Christianity?
Despite such contradictions, there is a great deal of seductive power present in this very lengthy encyclical of Pope Francis which is bound to affect the spiritual lives of millions. This power derives from the fact that the encyclical itself, even though replete with naivety and self-contradiction, is a carefully crafted work structured to tap deeply into the guilt which we all feel, explicitly or implicitly, in having abandoned Christ’s teachings in the Beatitudes. We have indeed denied “the simplicity that is in Christ”; we have become “fat as butter” in pursuit of the goods of the earth; we have sought unending scientific, technological, and economic growth at the price of having lost spiritual childhood; we have filled the earth with filth, poisoned its waters, polluted its air, voraciously exploited its resources, ravaged much of its beauty, exploited and ignored its poor, murdered untold millions of innocent children. We have indeed “ignored the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”. Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, we are now a civilization whose dominant characteristic is guilt over having massively and mortally betrayed the teachings of our God.
It is this very real guilt, largely unconscious, which now makes us subject to the siren-calls of an evil Teilhardian spirituality, and it is also this same guilt which makes us hunger for a “mercy” which flees from God’s judgment. Both of these paths call us to spiritual death.
St. Paul, in 2 Cor. 7:10, speaks of two radically opposed sorrows (and therefore guilts) which can afflict the human heart. One is from God, and the other from the world:
“For the sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
We now live in a civilization which, in sorrow over its own betrayal, and yet also enmeshed in its own refusal to return to Christ, lives in the physical and moral swill of its own death wish. It is the same species of sorrow and guilt which ensnared the heart of Judas in his refusal to return to Christ and forgiveness, but instead to choose suicide. In our age, this “sorrow unto death” takes the form of immersion in all the concupiscence’s of this world (of which the evolutionary goal of self-perfection is the penultimate form), and of claiming a false mercy towards mortal sin – these new “freedoms” serving as masks concealing a vast sea of historical guilt and betrayal of God. All souls still immersed in this betrayal will almost certainly embrace Antichrist upon his coming, and then plunge headlong into self-destruction.
There is, of course, always room for those who choose to remain faithful to Christ and the Gospel. Our faith cannot be taken from us, but can only be lost through the prostitution of our individual wills. We are not obliged to follow the Pope in the non-infallible theological orientations proposed in his encyclical. And, even if the Synod and the Pope institute pastoral practices which admit the divorced and remarried to communion, or bless homosexuality, these in themselves do not change Church doctrine or compromise the infallible Magisterium. Further, our faith does not oblige us to follow any member of the hierarchy into sin, or the blessing of sin. Resistance to such pressures will of course cause suffering. This would especially be true for priests, who must be willing to lose their faculties if their conscience demands a refusal
The danger for traditional Catholics lies mostly in another direction – the loss of charity. Without charity, there is no salvation, no matter how courageous we are in clinging to our faith. In times of crisis such as now, this especially demands vigilance concerning our mandatory charity towards the Pope. This charity does not exclude criticism of his actions, theology, orientations, or policies. It may even necessitate the realistic assessment that he is doing the work of anti-christ. It cannot, however, include any assessment that he is the Antichrist. It is therefore imperative that we consider him more victim than villain, and act and pray accordingly.
This is not at all to excuse or gloss over what the Pope is doing, or the possible consequences. Hell may be well-stocked with those who appear to show no signs of calculated villainy, but who simply chose to love as the world loves. Whether such persons be Pope or peasant, they should not be the object of our rage, but of our pity and prayer. They also of course deserve our combat, which is waged not only for our own souls, but for theirs.