Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) was a Jesuit palaeontologist and mystic whose work brings science and religion together. For him, all beings and all creation “complete the Body of Christ.” In his travels and research as palaeontologist he often found himself without the means to celebrate the Eucharist in its traditional form. His fundamental vision of Christ as ‘All-in-everything’ inspired his ritual which he called the Mass on the World. “I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar. I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself.” His Liturgy of the Word is his contemplation and praise of God’s presence in all people and in all creation. He celebrates the Liturgy of the Eucharist (Offertory, Consecration and Communion) by “making the whole earth my altar and on it I will offer God all the labours and sufferings of the world. This bread, our toil; this wine, our pain, representing the solidarity of all human kind and all beings, and the earth itself.” For Teilhard, the desired Consecration is already there. “I firmly believe that everything around me is the body and blood of the Word. That is why, in our prayer at the altar, we ask that the consecration (transformation) may be brought about for (and in) us. From Offertory and Consecration there follows Communion. Consciousness (awareness) must and does yield to the truth of things, sees more clearly the ‘single life’ that enlivens all things.” Teilhard’s daily celebration of Mass was an openness and surrender to a growing awareness of Christ already present in all things.
During the past few months we have found ourselves without the means to celebrate our traditional weekly Mass. We have had to find some other ways of keeping alive that which nourishes and transforms us – and perhaps ask ourselves, “What does nourish us and open us to being transformed?” Have we said with Teilhard, “I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar. I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself.” What is ‘the real’ for us? For Richard Rohr it is “finding Christ in the body (in the material world), in the blood (in the suffering of the world). Little by little this transforms us into Christ. That’s what church is all about! That’s its only mission. That’s our only task. And because it’s too good to be true, too big to be possible, we take it in little doses. We hope that we will be humble enough, open enough, ready enough, empty enough to believe it.”