This is the last letter of Teilhard, published in Lettres intimes (Aubier Montaigne, 1974, pp. 465-466). Fr. de Lubac adds in a note : ” Note the dates. Two days after writing this letter, T. died suddenly, on Easter day ! The letter reached its addressee after the news of his death. The penultimate sentence is all the more moving .
Rd. Father and Friend,
I receive your letter of April 4, – and I answer it – on this predestined day. The Meaning of the Cross… I do not see anything substantial to add to the few pages that I sent you, I believe, in September 1952 : ” What the World Expects from the Church of God : a generalization and a deepening of the Meaning of the Cross “.
What I thought then (and since the ” Divine Middle “), I am more convinced than ever. In a Universe of Cosmogenesis, where Evil is no longer ” catastrophic” (i.e., born of an accident), but ” evolutionary” (i.e., a statistically inevitable by-product of a Universe in the process of unification in God), – in such a Universe, I say, the Cross (without losing its expiatory or compensatory function) becomes even more the symbol and expression of the evolution ” (” noogenesis “) all in all: co-reflection and unanimization of the Human being through and in favor of the Punishment, the Sin and the Death.
And, from then on – without attenuating the Christian tradition – it becomes possible to present to the World the Cross, no longer just as a ” of the miseries of the world, but as a “consolation It’s an “excitement” (the most complete and dynamic excitement) to progress as far as possible, on Earth, for God, in the direction of some ” ultra-human”. – In the regime of ” cosmogenesis of unification ” (which is by definition the regime of the Pleroma) God could not create without incarnating, nor incarnating without carrying the suffering and sinful weight of the Evolution… ” Evolution, that is to say ultra-Creation! Identically, from this point of view, Christ the Redeemer = Christ ” Evolutionary”.
Christ on the Cross is the most complete expression that has appeared in human consciousness of a ” God of Evolution “… A God of the Evocation : that is to say a God divinizing, christifying, both the Above and the Below…
But this of course does not appear (and with evidence ) that if one has first understood the new relations established between Spirit and Matter, and the new figure taken by Evil (in all its forms), in the regime of Cosmogenesis: Spirit becoming a genetic function of Matter, – Evil becoming a by-product of the unification of Spirit in favor of Matter, – There is a ” intellectual dimension ” new to perceive (it is necessary, as I say, to arrive to see ” not on a circle “, but ” in a sphere “)… And my disappointment has often been to discover that such penetrating minds as Auguste VaIensin, Grandmaison, or even de Lubac (?…), still thought and prayed in ” Cosmos” and not in Cosmogenesis. – But it would be impossible (and fortunately !) to stop the irresistible drift of human thought around us. Tomorrow, everyone will think ” in the sphere “, in Cosmogenesis. And then, quite naturally, the crucified God will have become the most powerful spiritual engine (because the most rewarding, and the only ” amorizing”) of ultra-hominization.
This is my faith: the one I would so much like to be able to confess publicly before I die…
It’s all a bit confusing, – thrown together. But with my 1952 paper, you will recognize yourself in it, (Around 1949 I also wrote a ” How I see “, which you might like. I will send it to you).
Respectfully and affectionately always,
And Fr. de Lubac adds in a note, after Teilhard’s signature, a quotation taken from the Carnets intimes de Teilhard, 1940 : In manus tuas, Domine. ” In your hands Lord, so gentle, so powerful, so active, to the very marrow of our being… in your hands which are like ours, which we never know if they will be gentle or break what they hold… in these hands, the more I see my destiny obscured or uprooted from the past, the more I throw myself and surrender ”