芥子 第62期 62

Love as Energy according to Teilhard de Chardin

Bosco Lu, S.J. 陸達誠神父

Love as Energy according to Teilhard de Chardin

Bosco Lu, S.J. 陸達誠神父


Many people know that Teilhard was a scientist as well as priest, but not many know that he was also a great LOVER. As a scientist, he was famous for his theory of EVOLUTION. As a priest however, he offered himself without reservation to God as a Jesuit. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1899, was ordained priest in 1911 and took his final vows in 1918. No matter how great the troubles would be in his tumultuous life, he never wavered in his original dedication. He remained a priest and scientist to the end of his life.

Growing up in the midst of the scenic Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, the young boy acquired a kind of mystic feeling towards nature. The universe presented itself to him as something living, dynamic and personal. Later on, he often repeated that the universe has a mind, a heart and a face. 1 This face eventually became Christic 2 for him. Inspired by the “Eternal Feminine” of Dante’s Beatrice, Teilhard developed his own theology of the unitive principle. Beatrice is interpreted as the Blessed Virgin Mary. Later, this Beauty was further concretized into several women. Among them, we should mention Mrs. Lucile Swan, Teilhard’s very special friend. They first met in Peking in 1929. Their ‘honey-moon’ in the imperial City lasted 12 years. Teilhard activated his creative power largely through his conversation with Lucile. In fact, he finished his masterpiece The Phenomenon of Man in that period.3 Whenever Teilhard went away for a trip, he used to write to Lucile. The correspondence, begun in 1932, lasted 23 years, and was published in 1993 in a book The Letters of Teilhard de Chardin and Lucile Swan.4 Through it, we can detect the private and interior happenings of the two persons.
The present paper is based largely on the materials afforded by the two books mentioned above. The third source is The Eternal Feminine of Cardinal Henri de Lubac.5 The subject of this research is ‘Love as Energy according to Teihard de Chardin’. Nobody would disagree that love is an energy. But what is its sense in Teilhard’s mind? As a Jesuit priest and first-ranked scientist, how did he integrate the love of God and the love of woman? What did he mean by energy? How did he profit from his experience of love? What can one learn from his experience? Can his conviction regarding chaste-love be an universal rule for mankind? It seems that all these questions are worthy of being explored in order to understand Teilhard as such.

I. Love as the Heart of the Matter

In French museums, visitors would not miss those paintings labelled la nature morte. They could be of an apple, a glass, or a stone. These objects apparently are not living, so they are thus called.
It is not the way Teilhard saw the Matter. Penetrating the surface of the so-called la nature morte, Teilhard, perceiving the perpetual movements of the mutual attractions of the atoms and the molecules, declared: “ Everything in the universe is made by union and generation—by the coming together of elements that seek out one another, melt together two by two, and are born again in a third.” 6 He did not hesitate to call the principle of union LOVE: “My dearest faith is that something loving is the deepest essence of the growing Universe”.7 The evolution of the universe can be properly described as “the evolution of love”.8
Using Gabriel Marcel’s terminology, one can say that to Teilhard, the material universe is not a “he” or “it” , but a “thou”.9 It is a Thou which cares for me, responds to me and is ready to get involved with me in a dialogue. We found in his “Hymn to Matter”:

I bless you, matter, and you I acclaim: not as the pontiffs of science or the moralizing preachers depict you, debased, disfigured---a mass of brute forces and base appetites—but as you reveal yourself to me today, in your totality and your true nature. 10

In Hymn of the Universe, he changes the tune:

I acclaim you as the divine milieu, charged with creative power, as the ocean stirred by the Spirit, as the clay molded and infused with life by the incarnate Word….
If we are ever to possess you, having taken you rapturously in our arms, we must then go on to sublimate you through sorrow.
Your realm comprises those serene heights where saints think to avoid you – but where your flesh is so transparent and so agile as to be no longer distinguishable from spirit.
Raise me up then, matter, to those heights, through struggle and separation and death; raise me up until, at long last, it becomes possible for me in perfect chastity to embrace the universe.11
Spirit and Matter, which one is the energy to raise me up? Are they one in nature? Here comes the delicate problem of dualism. Henri de Lubac propounds that Teilhard rejected the dualism.12 Ursula King gives an even more succinct account of this issue:

Matter and spirit were two aspects of one single reality. Spirit slowly emerges from matter. It eventually takes precedence over the physical and chemical, and it is ultimately in spirit, the highly complex, that all consistency resides. The unity of the world was experienced by him as the feeling of God’s presence everywhere. The world was reverberating with divine life. Thus he could speak of “sacred evolution.”13

Our paper is not destined to discuss the inner structure of reality as monism or dualism according to Teilhard, so we excuse ourselves from not continuing the subject. However, his experience of God as present in the material world was so strong, can he avoid the label of being a pantheist? Teilhard rejected the term pantheism in its normal meaning.14 It was his own spiritual experience enabling him to sense God present and acting everywhere. He was a kind of ‘nature mystic’,15 inheriting from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius the idea of finding God in all things. Thus Teilhard’s way of ascent was to have communion with God through mother earth. His is a pan-Christic mysticism.16 Belief in the risen Lord led him to the notion of a Cosmic Christ,17 full of love-energy to renew the cosmos.
Furthermore, Teilhard the priest in his many research trips could find neither altar, nor bread, nor wine to say Mass. He discovered a new way to say his Mass:

Since once again, Lord ― though this time not in the forest 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; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world.18

He continues:

Over there, on the horizon, the sun has just touched with light the outermost fringe of the eastern sky. Once again, beneath this moving sheet of fire, the living surface of the earth wakes and trembles, and once again begins its fearful travail. I will place on my paten, O God, the harvest to be won by this renewal of labor. Into my chalice I shall pour all the sap which is to be pressed out this day from the earth’s fruits.
My paten and my chalice are the depths of a soul laid widely open to all the forces which in a moment will rise up from every corner of the earth and converge upon the Spirit.19

Here the Eternal Priest, the risen Lord, is consecrating and transforming through His priests the whole Matter into His divine body, extending His love to every corner and into every atom. Through Him, we can understand why Teilhard can claim that Matter is not only not dead, but full of life and energetic. If the matter has a heart, it is because God has a Heart which is an ocean of love. His Heart vibrates and pulsates in Matter. The priest is the privileged person to actualize the universal consecration.
“The Mass on the World” spreads a panorama of the immense horizon on the top of the eastern mountains where Teilhard, in the fresh air, pronounced in the name of Christ the prayer of universal consecration: the whole material universe as the bread is my body-to-be. Who in the history of Christian Church has ever had such a wide, mystic vision of the Divine Milieu? It seems that only if someone had already entered the inmost Heart of the holy Trinity, they could catch such a glimpse of the sacred nature of Matter.
In the following paragraph we will study who was the guide for Teilhard in his search for mystic truth.

II. The Eternal Feminine

Dante’s Comedia divina and Goethe’s Das Ewig-Weibliche (The Eternal Feminine) in the second part of Faust inspired Teilhard to hold on the mysterious Eternal Feminine.20

Monsignor Yves Patenôtre, Bishop of Saint-Claude, writes in the ” Introduction” of the 1998 edition of Teilhard’s L’Eternel Feminin:

In reading it, I was brought back into the memory of the fresco of the creation of Adam realized by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. So near to the God the Creator, there is a woman, young and beautiful. Who is she? I like to think that she is Wisdom or the feminity of the Creative Spirit.21

Who is this beautiful young girl who had not only enchanted Dante, but also Michelangelo, Goethe, Teilhard and innumerable other writers. Dante named her Beatrice, while Teilhard changed her into Beatrix.22 Thomas King, co-editor of The Letters of Teilhard de Chardin & Lucile Swan, writes in the “Epilogue”:

In March 1918 he finally produced a poetic essay, ‘The Eternal Feminine’. The essay was dedicated to Beatrice, the woman who by her glance alone had inspired Dante to make his journey from the Inferno, through Purgatorio to Paradiso. It again tells of the spiritual appeal of the Feminine. Teilhard’s essay explains, “when a man loves a woman he thinks at first that his love is given to an individual like himself whom he envelops in his power and freely associates with himself.” But, soon, “he is astonished by the violence of the forces unleashed in him,” and “trembles to realize” that he cannot be united with the feminine without “becoming enslaved to a universal work of creation.” Thus the Feminine was seen as the force that calls man out of himself and into Life.
The Christian Gospel recommended virginity, but this did not mean the Feminine was to lose her power. Virginity was not to exile love from a man’s heart: “on the contrary it is his duty to remain essentially a man”. The Feminine becomes idealized as “Mary the Virgin”. She now inspires the spirit to rise beyond the world and unite with God.23

According to Henri de Lubac,24 the reason why Teilhard changed Beatrice to Beatrix is that he wanted to transform Dante’s ideal virgin into a concrete Christian Virgin: Mary. The former, lack of identification, shrouded in a veil, as a symbol, cannot reveal the mystery of the Feminine in its purest essence. She is a Platonic idea of beauty. Our Lady, on the contrary, as the mother of the incarnate Word, is a personal and real phenomenon. “When Dante had entered Paradise, St Bernard urged him to look upon the face of Mary, ‘for that is the face most like unto Christ’ and ‘its brilliance alone can fit you to see Christ’.25 If this interpretation is correct, it is crystal clear who the Teilhardian Feminine is . It is, then, through Mary the Virgin, that he reflected on his own vocation as how he was going to live the consecrated, celibate life.
1918 was the year when Teilhard took his definitive step in his religious life, namely to pronounce the final vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in the Society of Jesus. He had then been ordained priest for eight years. The vows were a final confirmation as a seal affixed on his whole personality. The ceremony took place on 16 May 1918. Two months before that event, after a long period of pondering and praying,26 he composed “The Eternal Feminine” (from March 19 to 25). Why did the Feminine impress him so much that he could not help reflecting on it before taking his vow of chastity?
We can start with our observation from his first experiences of love with women. Doubtlessly his mother and two sisters should first be mentioned. His mother instilled “a deep love of the Christian mystics and a lifelong devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus”27 in Teilhard, the fourth of her eleven children. Ironically, she was the sixth direct descendant of Voltaire’s sister. In 1936 when Teilhard, then in China, received the news of his mother’s death, he wrote: “My dear and saintly mother to whom I owe all that is best in my soul.”28
His two sisters were also highly appreciated. Marguerite-Marie was bedridden for life and from her Teilhard learnt the “divinization of passivities”29 and wrote a book on the meaning of suffering for her. Marguerite-Marie died six months after her mother. The other sister, Françoise, entered the convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor and went to China as a missionary, working in Shanghai until her early death in 1911. Her saintly life always won Teilhard’s admiration.
Teilhard, who joined the Society of Jesus at eighteen, did not seem to have had any previous romantic experience. Only after his long training ended with his ordination in 1911, when he was already over thirty years old, in Paris doing special studies in paleontology, did he have his first experience of love. This episode would influence his view towards the Feminine.
Marguerite Teilhard-Chambon, distant cousin of Pierre, half a year older than the latter,30 also grew up in Clermont-Ferrand. Their houses were only a few miles apart. Certainly they shared many similar experiences in their childhood. Now, Marguerite, living in Paris, had already graduated from university and as an agrégée taught philosophy in a distinguished high school. Their encounter after a long separation became an event for Teilhard’s education sentimentale.
It was in all senses a real encounter of love between a young priest and his first cousin. Ursula King with the keen delicacy of a woman depicts the story:

He discovered the full power of “the ideal Feminine” and its “unfading beauty” only when he encountered his cousin Marguerite as an adult woman, a woman of a cultivated, fine mind, great grace, and loveliness, as well as deep faith and devotion. When meeting at the eve of the war, they fell deeply in love with each other. She became the first listener to his ideas, his first audience and reader, his first critic. Theirs was an intellectual and spiritual collaboration, but Marguerite was also the first woman who loved him as a man, and it is through her that he fully found himself.
This was a powerful experience, a new and different fire, which gave him ecstasy and joy but was not without difficulties and dangers. As he described it, it was inevitable that sooner or later he should come ‘face to face with the feminine’. The only strange thing about it was that it did not happen until he was thirty when he went to study in Paris. His cosmic and human sense were then emerging more fully, but his spiritual aspirations were still lacking in human warmth. The discovery of his love for Marguerite and her loving response changed all that. It was just the energy he needed for his ideas ‘to ferment and become completely organized.’31

A remarkable passage! Marguerite enabled her cousin to soar up to glance at the beauty of the Eternal Feminine where he had an “enlightenment” into truth. We can imagine how Teilhard was filled with joy. He described later:

Under the glance that fell upon me, the shell in which my heart slumbered, burst open. With pure and generous love, a new energy penetrated me – or emerged from me, which, I cannot say – that made me feel that I was as vast and as loaded with richness as the universe.32

In December 1914, Teilhard was enlisted. From the Front he wrote to Marguerite abundant letters, later published as The Making of a Mind.33 During Wartime, the exterior happenings of brutality could not quench his interior richness, swollen with the sweet memory of feelings of love. Innumerable ideas like torrents came to his mind resulting in an abundance of writings,34 which contained already the germs of all his later ideas.35
We may say that it was Marguerite who brought Teilhard to contemplate the unfading, heavenly Beauty.36 In praising the Eternal Feminine, he realized that celibacy does not exclude an intimacy with the other sex. He writes:

The man who hearkens to Christ’s summons is not called upon to exile love from his heart. On the contrary, it is his duty to remain essentially a man. Thus he has an even greater need of me, to sensitize his powers, and arouse his soul to a passion for the divine.37

In one of his last books The Heart of Matter, Teilhard says that no man, however devoted to a cause or to God, can find a road to spiritual maturity or plenitude except through some ‘emotional’ influence, whose function is to sensitize his understanding and stimulate, at least initially, his capacity for love. Every day supplies more irrefutable evidence that no man at all can dispense with the Feminine, any more than he can dispense with light, or oxygen, or vitamins.38

This time it was not the goddess Diotima, Socrates’ teacher, but our Lady, the new Beatrix who educated Teilhard to aspire to a new way of Eros: celibate love or virginity.

III. Virginity as a New Fire

One and half years after his joining the army, Teilhard wrote an article: ‘Virginity’. Two years later, he wrote ‘The Eternal Feminine’. During these three and a half years, he stuck to the subject, preparing his final definitive commitment to a celibate religious life. He found in Beatrix that the source of attraction was her virginal PURITY:

Long before I drew you, I drew God towards me.
Long before man measured the extent of my power and divinized the polarity of my attraction, the Lord had conceived me, whole and entire, in his wisdom, and I had won his heart.
Without the lure of my purity, think you, would God ever have come down, as flesh, to dwell in his creation?
Only love has the power to move being.
If God, then, was to be able to emerge from himself, he had first to lay a pathway of desire before his feet, he had to spread before him a sweet savour of beauty.

It was then that he caused me to rise up, a luminous mist hanging over the abyss—between the earth and himself—that, in me, he might dwell among you.
Now do you understand the secret of the emotion that possesses you when I come near?
The tender compassion, the hallowed charm, that radiates from woman—so naturally that it is only in her that you look for them, and yet so mysteriously that you cannot say whence they come—are the presence of God making itself felt and setting you ablaze.
Lying between God and the earth, as a zone of mutual attraction, I draw them both together in a passionate union.39

Mary tells us that the reason why she attracts is because of her purity. The purity is a mirror, reflecting the interior beauty of God. The Essays says that people get very strong emotions and the feeling of being loved when she comes near: this is truly a consolation, but for those who receive a celibate vocation, it is a rather common experience. Under the premise of the fundamental choice, Teilhard would never let himself follow the impulse of the flesh to do anything which would harm his vow of chastity. Consequently, all his friendships with any women were tinted by this decision. After Marguerite, he let himself enter into deep relations with Leontine Zanta, Ida Treat, Lucile Swan, Rhoda de Terra, Claude Rivière, Jeanne Mortier and others, but Teilhard never changed his goal: any love with woman is for God and with God, and finally should converge in God. His love for any woman was always trinal, namely a love including man, woman and God.40

The trinal form of love or ‘love à trois’41 was Teilhard’s principle of love not only for himself and for religious, but also for the whole of mankind, as he said: “Soon only God will remain for you in a universe where all is virgin. It is God who awaits you in me!”42 Henri de Lubac interprets :

He is dreaming of a collective sublimation of human love, ‘of a universe that is completely made virgin’; the dream is based on the possibility of a certain ‘transparency of matter in relation to spirit’. He has in mind a total dissociation between ‘the essence of the Feminine’, which remains, and ‘the sexual’, which passes away: passes away, that is, unless one means an entirely ‘sublimated’ sexuality, or ‘a spiritual application of the sexual relationship’ carried to the extreme limit at which it is transformed, between man and woman, into ‘peaceful friendship’ – even though it can still be ‘passionate’ in Teilhard’s sense of the word.43

The dream of having an eventual world where only virgins live and only chaste love prevails seems to be a mere utopia. The interpreter was not unaware of it: “Using language that gradually unfolds its meaning (even if it is open to objection) it is an evocation of the ‘beatific vision’, the final term to which the feminine ideal, the fruit of revelation, is leading us”.44
To Teilhard’s mind, even if the goal cannot be reached universally in this world, it is still the ideal. From the effort and realization of the chosen few we can glimpse the real value of sex. Sex by itself is not worthy of human love. The mere use of sex dissipates the “most marvelous power” of the earth.45 It may produce a “short-circuit” which neutralizes human energy.46 The ungovernable force of sex drags us down into the mud.47 From the above we see that Teilhard sees nothing positive in sex alone. His positive value of friendship with women is based only on the spiritual side and has as its goal to converge this kind of love in God.
With a prophetic voice, he claims that in virginity resides the greatest energy of God’s creation. If it is discovered, the world will have a new fire.

The day will come when, after harnessing the ether, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness, for God, the energies of love. And that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.48

This fire is not that of nature, but radiates from the Heart of Jesus. The fire which had burnt Pascal three centuries ago,49 now burnt Teilhard, his countryman, with a similar intensity.

Christ. His Heart. A Fire: a fire with the power to penetrate all things and gradually spreads universally….
It is as if the fact of bringing together and connecting the two poles, tangible and intangible, external and internal, of the world which bears us onward had caused everything to burst into flames and set everything free….
Let your universal Presence spring forth in a blaze that is at once diaphany and Fire.
O ever-greater Christ!50

His vocation and apostolate was to “spread broad the fire you have imparted to me.”51 And the one who has the fire is the one who will inflame the earth.52
We started the second paragraph ‘The Eternal Feminine’ with Beatrix and we spoke of Mary as the new model of it. Through Mary, following the steps of Teilhard, we tried to find out the golden rule of Mary’s attraction. Virginity was the answer. So it became the guideline for Teilhard in his entertaining the relationships with women. In his whole life, he never changed his religious commitment. God always took the first place, as St. Francis of Assisi said, “Deus meus omnia!” (My God and my all) . Sticking to his conception of the trinal conception of love, he would never exchange a woman with his God. He is forever a priest of Christ in whom he embraced the whole universe.
We will see in the following paragraph what a wonderful friendship Teilhard had with Lucile and what a price he paid to keep this relationship. Was it a worthwhile trial for Teilhard to have such an experience which gave him a great amount of joy and energy as well as sorrow and tears?

IV. Love in Agony

If Teilhard should have never met Lucile Swan, he would have lived his life quite peacefully, with the additional joys of successive encounters of men or women. However, the appearance of the American lady overthrew his principle of the trinal love. Lucile was a divorced sculptress recently arrived from Iowa. She met Teilhard in the home of Dr. Grabau, an American geologist in the autumn of 1929. The gatherings of the international friends, like a cultural salon, favored cordiality and friendship. Teilhard was 48 years of age, while Lucile53 was nine years younger. The two got along very well and became good friends.54 Since they were neighbors, they met quite often. Teilhard was invited by Lucile for tea at five p.m. in her house. Afternoon tea eventually became their indispensable habit whenever they were in Peking. Sometimes Teilhard went with his Jesuit confrere Pierre Leroy. In 1932, Lucile made the first bust of Teilhard. In her studio, when Teilhard sat as the model, they carried on conversations with longer duration.
In the autumn of that year, Teilhard left for France for an absence of six months. From the boat he wrote his first letter to Lucile (August 30th, 1932). Next year he went on leave to the United States, letters became more frequent, at intervals of 6, 7 or 13 days.55 In that trip, Teilhard visited Lucile’s parents in Chicago, where he was very cordially received. To his surprise there was a photo of Lucile 15 years younger. The same year when Lucile went to Shanghai for an exhibition, Teilhard wrote to her even more frequent at intervals of 4, 5, 3, 8, 6, 5, 10 days56. We can see how they needed to communicate to each other and to what an extent their intimacy grew.
These letters are precious documents for those who want to understand Teilhard deeply. The correspondence from 1932 to 1955 is a real record of his private personal life. In this book we find many letters of Teilhard, very few of Lucile, because it seems that Teilhard didn’t keep her letters. On the contrary, Lucile cherished each letter, putting them in good order and handed them to her niece in l965 before her death with the desire of having them published one day.57 It was lucky that Lucile also kept many of her own unsent letters and her diary and bequeathed these to her niece as well. From these resources, we read the story of both sides and the real mentality of Lucile, perhaps unknown to Teilhard.
The Letters of Teilhard de Chardin and Lucile Swan was published in 1993. The text contains about 300 pages. On the seventh page of the book Teilhard , returning from his trip of the United States, wrote a letter to Lucile (Nov. 14, 1933). This is the first time Teilhard seriously explained his idea of love to her. It seems that they both had very different versions of love, for which they had to pay a high price. Four years previously ( 1929) when Teilhard and Lucile first met, they felt immediately the irresistible attraction of the other. Seventeen years previously Teilhard’s affective potential had already been released by his cousin Marguerite. After that, he met other women, such as Léontine Zanta (in 1918, Ph.D. in philosophy, teacher of Marguerite, ten years older, correspondence with Teilhard 1923-1938), Ida Treat (around 1925, American communist in Paris, later married a Frenchman) and Rhoda de Terra (in 1935, American novelist), but Lucile was different from all the other women friends.

Lucile ‘the light,’ sparked off a fire of great intensity that burnt throughout the mature years of Teilhard’s manhood. His family, friends, and future admirers were not to know of the power of this mutual love, its intimacy and commitment, its separation, disappointment, and pain, until many years after their deaths, when the publication of their letters broke the long maintained silence over the nature of their relationship.58

At the beginning of their encounter, Teilhard did not foresee to what kind and to what extent their friendship would evolve59. He might have thought that Lucile would be like one of his former lady-friends with whom he could apply his principle of trinal love, or love à trois. The fact was that their friendship grew into a relationship much deeper than friendship. They did not only share their ideas, but their whole life even to its least details. The mystic Teilhard was searching for God through his encounter with Lucile.60 He seemed to wish, through the stimulus of Lucile, to know God more deeply, to show the world His new face, and after all to discover the FIRE , the source of all energies.61
When Teilhard was 69 years old (1950), he wrote his autobiography The Heart of Matter, which ends with an account of “The Feminine”: “I have experienced no form of self-development without some feminine eye turned on me, some feminine influence at work.” He spoke of a “homage which sprang from the depths of my being and was paid to those women whose warmth and charm have been absorbed, drop by drop, into the life blood of my most cherished ideas”.62 He sent a copy of the book to Lucile saying, “These pages are an effort to express an internal evolution deeply impressed by you”.63 “For almost twenty years, you have always helped me to go up toward an always more luminous and warm God.”64
Let us go back to the beginning of their encounter, when both of them were in Peking, they used to take tea together at 5 o’clock every afternoon in Lucile’s house.

Lucile was able to question him and challenge his ideas like nobody before. She gave Teilhard more than many a partner provides. She discussed, read and translated his essays, had them typed, printed and sent out to numerous friends, shared his walks and talks, and provided a place of intimacy and warmth in her home.65

They considered that the results of their discussions were their eggs.66 We have now eggs of their common effort such as “How I believe,” “Christology and Evolution,” “A Personalistic Universe,” “The Road of the West: To a New Mysticism,” “ The Significance and Positive Value of Suffering,” “Evolution and Chastity,” “The Phenomenology of Spirituality,” “Human Energy,” “The Mysticism of Science”. Above all was Teilhard’s magnum opus: The Phenomenon of Man. written during 1938-1940. By June 18, 1940, Teilhard brought her the whole manuscript. He acknowledged that it was her work too. It was “a new result of our spiritual union”.67
During the First World War, Marguerite read his essays and gave him opinions. Now Lucile took her place and became the indispensable cooperator. It seems that Teilhard by nature was not a hermit or a writer tout seul. All his achievements needed a presence, warm and loving, otherwise he could not think well nor produce anything original.68
However, Lucile was not only Teilhard’s good companion at work, but became a part of his personality. They became morally one. Let us quote the following sayings to illustrate the fact: “Should I be ‘complete’, Lucile, without you?”69, “You have become a part of my deepest own life”.70 The mystical journey of Teilhard was facilitated by the help of a woman-companion, Lucile.
Lucile the artist was not a theologian. She was a woman who needed love and dared love. When she sensed something (here the love-relation with Teilhard) or someone real, she gave herself totally in it and to him. In fact, because of different backgrounds and interests, Lucile had not much in common with Teilhard and she didn’t understand very much what he incubated, yet she appreciated him, willing to help him to produce the ideas which would help mankind to find a future. The problem was that Lucile was born into a non-Catholic Christian family and later she somehow abandoned religious practice. Her relationship with God was vague. She could not understand many of the Christian values, not to mention the celibacy rule for priests and many of Teilhard’s key ideas on the cosmic Christ, the Eternal Feminine and the trinal type of love.
Her agony came only when they grew into a deeper relationship of love. While Teilhard dreamt the path from virginity or a love à trois which ended in a convergence, Lucile was just living an ordinary romantic experience. In Teilhard, she found the ideal man of her dream.71 Gradually, she fell deeper and deeper in love. Her feminine nature was aroused. She needed more than a mere friendship. “Friendship is no doubt the highest form of love ― and also very difficult ― my primitive woman instincts are so strong – to learn how to control this love is so difficult.”72 In an almost desperate sigh, she noted in her diary: “You’re become more important in my life every day. Yes. The live, physical, real you, all of you. I want you so terribly…. I can’t have you”.73 Beyond the feeling, Lucile saw a contradiction between the evolutionary theories of Teilhard and his practice of chastity:

You admit the necessity of working thought out and with material in order to reach ideas abstract or God-like, but you deny the use of material (human) in order to reach the abstract or the God-like. You will say you deny only one part of human love but I think you are evading the question, for the physical is not only a very important but an essential part for the race.74

We can see the sharpness of Lucile’s reasoning. All these private confessions revealed how far their love had reached. In an ordinary case, it would perfectly normal for such a couple to think of marriage. Teilhard as a priest and willing to be faithful to his vows, was no more a free person.75 Lucile, divorced, not bound by marital tie, would naturally desire marriage. Teilhard’s trinal conception of love seems to be applicable only for persons, religious or believers, who, from both sides, have the value of unum necessarium.76 For Lucile, “the one and only Necessary thing” was Teilhard and total union with him. To such a degree of love, momentary separation of even a few hours, may cause unbearable suffering. She specified in her diary what she meant by ‘the physical’:

…I spoke of the ‘physical’. Please don’t think I mean just sex, although that is very strong. It would make a bond between us that would add a strength that I believe nothing else can give. However, that is only a part. I want to be with you and when you are well and when you are ill. Go see beautiful things with you and walk through the country. In other words, I want to stand beside you always, to laugh and play and pray with you. Don’t you realize what a big part of life that is, and how that is what is right and normal and God-given. But I cannot. Ne puis pas.77

Strongly frustrated, she wrote (of course also in her diary):

…you refuse to cast off your clerical teachings and look at the facts honestly. You have faced all sort of ideas brought to you by your science. But I still feel that you have refused to face that idea because your life has made it possible for you to evade it.78

When Lucile found that Teilhard was in great difficulty with his Church and there was a possibility of a definite break with his Order, she, observes Ursula King, “had subconsciously counted on it, but it did not come”.79 The possible subconscious motion, mentioned by King, could be associated with another subconscious movement of Lucile: the desire of a perfect union with Teilhard, if he decided to leave the Society.
Henri de Lubac, one of Teilhard’s closest Jesuit confreres, with all his compassion admitted the enormous difficulty involved in such a spiritual love as Teilhard had: “Such attitudes, which ensure the ‘sublimation’ of love in ‘plenitude’, are hardly common, and do not depend solely on good intention. That is why his own case, as he describes it himself, seems to us to be somewhat exceptional.”80 Difficult, exceptional as the case may be, Teilhard could not count upon forerunners’ experiences, he had to grope his way by himself. He prayed hard to our Lady for guidance.81 He practiced asceticism, austerity, mortification, and fought against selfishness. He persevered in his vow of chastity until death.82
In all the details of the above discussion, one should not neglect one phrase Ursula King wrote when she analyzed “The Evolution of Chastity”: “Left to his own judgment, Teilhard was not at all clear “about what is not allowable.”83 What does it mean? Does it mean the limit of the physical expressions of the virginal love? Maybe this is a point of perplexity for many souls who are engaged in the same kind of spiritual endeavor. Who will answer?

V. A Happy Ending with Redeemed Love

The above section described the love process of Teilhard and Lucile in their Peking phase (1929-1941). These two lovers, from mere acquaintance to deep friendship, shared almost one life. Teilhard didn’t keep the letters of Lucile while the latter not only kept Teilhard’s but also gave all her letters, especially the unsent ones and diary to her niece for an eventual publication. The readers of the Letters observe, from the very beginning of their correspondence, the traces of conflict between them. Lucile confided her troubles only to her private custody. How could Teilhard, then, understand Lucile totally? Their letters would be a series of monologues. Teilhard did not have both sides of the reflection. He wrote straightforwardly whatever he thought.
The first letter of Lucile in the Letters is dated March 31, 1937. The content and the way she wrote the letters were quite different from what she wrote for herself. Maybe Lucile had two selves: one of the Day, the other of the Night. The letters she sent to Teilhard were of the Day, rational and positive, while her personal diary recorded the Lucile of the Night, full of questions and doubts, mostly negative. The correspondents navigated in two different boats. Teilhard’s theory of Beatrix seemed not to reach the mind of Lucile at all, she perhaps had only a notional assent, not a real assent (Cardinal Newman’s distinction) to this theory. Teilhard did not succeed in converting Lucile to his side.84
The days and the nights, intertwining in Lucile, seemed never to get reconciled. There were moments when she thought positively too, but they were ephemeral, the night was lurking in the dark, ready to reappear, when its time was up.
One year after the Second World War, Teilhard went back to Europe. From Paris, he made several trips to New York, and South Africa. In December 1951 he emigrated to the United States and lived there for good. During this period of about ten years, Rhoda de Terra remained constantly near to Teilhard, either in Paris, New York or on his two trips to South Africa. Her close presence to Teilhard caused a terrible crisis in Lucile.
With the principle of “The Eternal Feminine”, Teilhard related to women always in a chaste way. In principle, this kind of relationship should not impede Teilhard from having several intimate women friends at the same time, as Yves Raguin explains :

This separation and the absence of fleshly contacts are needed for profound friendship to be possible with more than one person. One of the great discoveries of celibacy is to be able to love and truly love several people with an equal love but which possesses the uniqueness of each of the persons loved. Love expressed in the flesh, where every relationship is exclusive, is incapable of this liberty.85

Teilhard loved his cousin Marguerite, Ida Treat and others. But none of them could compare with Lucile. The mutual love between Teilhard and Lucile brought Lucile great sorrow because she was not able to marry him. Lucile did not hesitate to rebuke Teilhard saying, “You compare me with Ida. I can only say that if Ida had had the same kind of feeling, it would have been IMPOSSIBLE for her to marry”.86 Now, after seven years of separation (1941-1948) when they had a chance to have a long expected reunion in New York harbor (March 1948), she was not alone, Rhoda was there too, both were eager to see their beloved friend. Having read many times in Teilhard’s letters about Rhoda,87 Lucile never hid her feeling of bitterness toward her. She had told Teilhard of her wish never to meet Rhoda.88 And now both of them had to meet face to face waiting for the arrival of Teilhard. What a predicament! Shortening his visit of New York, Teilhard went back to Paris in June. Pierre Leroy, his best friend in Peking,89 bade him welcome in the airport, being surprised at seeing his old friend grief-stricken and depressed.90
Who is Rhoda de Terra then?
Teilhard met the scientist couple Helmut and Rhoda de Terra in Burma during fieldwork in 1935. Two years later, he visited the couple in Philadelphia and had a very pleasant weekend in their suburban home. Unfortunately the couple separated the next year.91 Teilhard kept up regular correspondence with Rhoda.92 When he came back to Europe in 1946, he met Rhoda in Paris, helping her to find materials for writing a novel. Gradually, she became his nurse-secretary after Teilhard had a heart attack in 1947. In 1951 and 1953 she accompanied Teilhard to South Africa “keeping an eye out for his health, she arranged his social calendar, deposited him and picked him up at many of his appointments, took care of his nuisance errands.”93
When Teilhard moved to the United States for good in December 1951, he was very weak but still engaged himself much academically. Lucile came from Washington D.C. to New York to see him once a while. Teilhard asked her to reduce her visits, and to write and to phone less often, because he was too weak.94 Meanwhile Rhoda was always by his side, seeming to supersede Lucile completely. And Lucile was demanding:

Do you think that some day we might have a CALM talk about “us”. We meet and act as if nothing had ever existed between us. Until just as we are parting some chance remark brings on others and the time being so short and the feeling of pressure so great, things are said that are too strong or not explicit and there is never time to understand. So we part with a feeling of frustration and ill ease. You must feel it too.
Is it an impossible situation? You were the strongest influence in my life for nearly 20 years and a VERY deep one…I know that we want sincerely to help each other, is that possible? And how? It was you who put me in the role of mother, but when I have told you things which seemed to me to be less than your best self, I feel that I have no right to say them, in fact I am so uncertain of where I stand with you that it makes it doubly hard to act wisely.
I know that you do not like to analyze situations, but don’t you think we would all be happier if you faced this one when you are well and calm? If you do not want to talk with me, can you write it?
The Christmas season makes one feel rather alone and a bit sentimental…I do not feel very happy about the way things are now,… can I be ME?95
It is painful to read the letter to know how the color of their love was changed. Teilhard was fully aware of what kind of pain he caused to persons he had loved. Thomas King writes:
In Paris in July 1954 Teilhard read again the final passages from The Heart of MATTER. He began weeping “at the memory of all the reproachful ‘Beatrices’ he knew and he had hurt unwittingly”. One of these was Lucile. 96

This confession of Teilhard was made in his last trip to Paris (June-August, 1954). It sounded like his testimony.
Just before Teilhard had a second heart attack, Lucile wrote him a cheerful letter:

I want to assure you, that what I wish for you above everything else is that you should find Peace and quiet and freedom. My love for you will always be something special; but believe me it is neither demanding nor possessive.
It would not be true to say that I love Rhoda, but I am glad she has found her God and I sincerely wish her well.
I know that I can always count on you as you know that you can always count on me. And I am always here if you should ever need me or want me.
I pray God to bless you and give you peace and quiet and happiness as He has in such large measure given to me.
Lucile 97
The letter breathed an air of reconciliation. Few days later, Teilhard fell on the street of New York during a walk. In the hospital, he asked for Lucile. She came at once and reassured him of her love. Later, he went back to the Jesuit residence where he wrote a letter to thank her and he said: “Let us converge, you and me, courageously and happily, toward the new face of God which attracts both of us”.98 Lucile admitted that “it makes me very sad if I am partly the cause of your malaise. Don’t let me be. You know I have found Peace and it is the thing I long for you more than anything else – the real Peace of God’s presence”.99 In the last letter of Teilhard to Lucile (March 30, 1955), he said “I need definitely your presence, your influence, in my life…. We are always here for each other. Phone me anytime you like”. The collection of their Letters ended here with peace and redeemed love.
On the evening of Easter Sunday 1955 (April 10) he died 100 while talking with other guests who were also visiting at the New York home of Rhoda de Terra. Lucile wrote: “It certainly makes the bonds even stronger than in an ordinary relationship….The privilege of knowing and having the friendship of this great man continues to be the most important and most beautiful part of my life”.101

VI. Conclusion

“Love as energy” for Teilhard was not a sentence, a theory or a conviction, but a living and existential experience. His faith in God, the unum necessarium, his devotion to Our Lady, the concrete Eternal Feminine, his commitment to Matter, full of divine presence, and his fondness of women friends, all inspired him to discover the resourceful Center of energy. God, as the ultimate Source of all beings and the primary Cause of all causalities, does not dispense from the secondary causalities. For Teilhard, one of the secondary causalities was the feminine presences. Intellectual creativity requires emotion for incubation. His experience of love with Marguerite opened a spring of new, fresh ideas which resulted in many important articles in wartime, among them was the immortal Eternal Feminine.
According to his theory, virgins may too have the possibility of an experience of love with God and with the other sex. The deep and chaste love is a love à trois. God is included in it and is its goal. To Teilhard, chaste or virginal love will liberate from matter a new FIRE. It is a new kind of energy. Virginal love is a more advanced stage of human love. After Marguerite, he met other women: Léontine Zanta, Ida Treat, Lucile Swan, Rhoda de Terra, Claude Rivière, Jeanne Mortier and others. They were those women “whose warmth and charm have been absorbed, drop by drop, into the life blood of my most cherished ideas”.102
Readers of Teilhard would all agree with the view that human love is a potential of great dynamism, but not necessarily understand or agree with his love à trois. Lucile, who did not totally share the Catholic faith, 103 was obliged in her relationship with Teilhard to adapt to his faith and to conform to his way of love. The evolution of this friendship was doomed to be somehow tragic. It was not fair to Lucile. Both of them started from the innocent and childlike friendship without knowing how different the quality of their relationship would be. Teilhard, willing to be faithful to his vow of chastity, would not allow himself to yield to Lucile’s demand for a physical union. They never had it as we know from Lucile’s niece. The whole story would have been easier if they had had the same religious conviction and spirituality of consecration. Anyway, the NEW FIRE requires a super-high price.
The rival of Lucile was not Rhoda, but God himself. Who can fight with God and win the battle? Lucile was destined to be the loser. In the last ten years, Teilhard was in the permanent presence of God, of Christ, of the unity of the Universe, of giving hope to mankind. The period of intensive exchange of human love was over for him. But the experiences remained, hence the energy released from these love experiences was still working to make Teilhard tireless until his last breath. Love à trois is the secret of energy. The energy becomes a never ending source of riches only when it gushes out from INFINITY.


1“The Mystical Milieu” (1917) in Writings in Time of War (London: Collins, 1968), pp. 144-7.
2“The Christic” is the name of Teilhard’s last essay, written in 1954-55, collected in The Heart of Matter, London: Collins, 1978.
3 “…by June 18, 1940, he brought her the whole manuscript. He was very happy that it was completed...” Ursula King, Spirit of Fire (NY: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 1996) , p. 174.
4 The Letters of Teilhard de Chardin and Lucile Swan, edited by Thomas M. King, S.J.,and Mary Wood Gilbert. (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1993), abbr. Letters.
5 Henri de Lubac, The Eternal Feminine, translated by Rene Hague, (NY: Harper & Row, 1968). Abbr. EF de Lubac
6“The Eternal Feminine”, by Teilhard de Chardin, on page 143 of The Prayer of the Universe (NY: Harper & Row, 1968), selected from Writings in Time of War, translated by Rene Hague, (London: Collins and NY: Harper & Row, 1968).
7 Letters, p. 4.
8 EF de Lubac, p. 42. In the same and following page, mention of different descriptions of the love-energy are made, such as: ‘the strange energy’, ‘ the most universal, most formidable, most mysterious of all energies’, ‘ an untamed force’, ‘a sacred reserve’, ‘the energy proper to cosmogenesis’ etc.
9 Gabriel Marcel, Journal Métaphysique, (Paris: Gallimard, 1927), pp. 138, 145, 292-3, 306.
10 Cited in Spirit of Fire, p. 85.
11 Hymn of the Universe, (London: Collins Fontana Books, 1970), p. 64f.
12 EF de Lubac, p. 33.
13 Spirit of fire, p.38.
14 “ The Mystical Milieu” in The Prayer of the Universe, p. 177.
15 Spirit of Fire, p. 56.
16 Ibid. p. 64.
17 “The one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe.” (Letter of St. Paul to Ephesus, 4:10). The Learning Bible, (New York: American Society, 2000).
18 “The Mass On the World’ in The Heart of Matter, (London: Collins,1978) p. 119f.
19 Ibid.
20 EF de Lubac, p. 37. It refers to the little Florentine beauty Beatrice in the Divine Comedy and the chorus singing at the end of Faust 2 “The eternal Feminine draws us aloft”.
21 Yves Patenôtre, introduction to ‘L’Eternel Féminin’ (Troyes: Fates, 1998), p. 10. My translation. This connexion echoes the first paragraph of Teilhard’s Eternal Feminine: “When the world was born, I came into being. Before the centuries were made, I issued from the hand of God—half-formed, yet destined to grow in beauty from age to age, the handmaid of his work.” See “The Eternal Feminine” in Prayer of the Universe, p. 143.
22 Ibid. where Teilhard dedicated his newly finished essay “The Eternal Feminine” to Beatrix, not to Beatrice (25 March 1918). See also EF de Lubac, p. 16, 38.
23 Letters, p. 295.
24 EF de Lubac, pp. 103-4.
25 Ibid. p. 129. H. de Lubac quotes the words of Dante from ‘ Paradiso’, c. 32.
26 As early as 1 May and 2 September 1916, Teilhard had already planned to write something about chastity before a Veiled Virgin. See EF de Lubac, p.17. He felt that he was compelled to write the essay, “as though under the compelling influence of the Virgin Mary.” Ibid.
27 Spirit of Fire, p. 4.
28 Op. Cit. p. 161.
29 Op, Cit. p. 162.
30 Op. Cit. p. 77.
31 Spirit of Fire, p. 74.
32 “The Mystic Milieu” (written in 13 August 1917). See The Prayer of the Universe, p. 110
33 The Making of a Mind: Letters from a Soldier-Priest ( London: Collins, 1965).
34 Such as “Cosmic Life”, “ Virginity”, “The Mystical Milieu”, “Creative Union”, “The Eternal Feminine”, “My Universe”, “The Grand Monad”, “The Priest”, “ In the Form of Christ” etc.
35 See Spirit of Fire, p.66. The collection of his wartime articles was published in 1968, with the name: Writings in Time of War (London: Collins, 1968)
36 “The Eternal Feminine” in Prayer of the Universe, p. 152.
37 Op. Cit.,p.149.
38 The Heart of Matter, (London: Collins, 1978) , p. 75. “Like any other animal, man is essentially a tension towards the completion that comes from union; he is a capacity for love. Plato noted this long ago. It is from this primordial urge that the rich complexity of intellectual and affective life develops, increases and diversifies. However high our spiritual boughs may rise and however wide their spread, their roots lie deep in the physical. It is from these reserves of passion in man that the warmth and light of his soul rise, transfigured. It is in these that there is initially concentrated for us, as in a seed, the essence, distilled to the finest point, of all spiritual development, the most sensitive of the forces that drive it.” The Evolution of Chastity (1934), quoted in EF de Lubac, p. 32.
39 “The Eternal Feminine” in Prayer of the Universe, p. 151.
40 “Sketch of a Personalistic Universe” in Human Energy, pp. 76-7. “Only one medium can bring two lovers together, God.” Note of Teilhard on 1 May 1920, cited by H. de Lubac in his EF de Lubac, pp. 211-2.
41 ‘“trinal” conception of the perfect love’ Letters, p. 19. About “love à deux or love à trios, Ibid.xvii.
42 ‘EF’ in Prayer of the Universe, p.151
43 In the letters to Fr. A. Valensin, 10 January 1926 and 11 November 1934, quoted by Henri de Lubac, EF de Lubac, p. 101. The friendship, however, between Teilhard and Lucile Swan, towards the latter part of their lives seemed not to be peaceful at all. We will tell the story later.
44 Op. Cit ,p.103. Jesus foretold that there would be no marital relations in the Parousia. See the Gospel according to St. Matthew 22:30.
45 “The Spirit of the Earth” in Human Energy (London: Collins, 1969), pp. 32-4. ..
46 See “The Evolution of Chastity” (1934.2) cited in EF de Lubac, p. 52. Letters, p.8, 295.
47 EF de Lubac, p. 17.
48 Toward the Future (London: Collins, 1975) pp. 80f. EF de Lubac, p. 55.
49 When Pascal died in the year of 1654, a piece of paper was found sewn in his clothes on which he had left a moving testimony of his spiritual experience. It begins with words “FIRE- — God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and scholars. Certitude, certitude, feeling, joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ.” Pascal’s Pensée ,quoted in Fire of the Spirit, p. 231.
50 Heart of Matter,(London: Collins, 1978), pp. 47, 55, 57. The devotion to the Sacred of Jesus was instilled into his tender soul by his mother as related before. The Society of Jesus which he joined received a mission from Jesus to spread the devotion of the Sacred Heart. Paray-le-Monial, pilgrimage city for this devotion, where Jesus appeared to St.Margaret-Mary, is not far from Clermont-Ferrand. This fact explains why Teilhard had one sister and one cousin baptized with the name Marguerite.
51 Writings in Time of War, p. 218.
52 Letters, p. 244.
53 Lucile’s niece Mary Wood Gilbert, the co-editor of The Letters of Teilhard de Chardin & Lucile Swan,wrote a ‘Prologue’ in which she quoted his friend, John Paton Davies: “Lucile was fine-featured, amply bosomed and hipped, perhaps in her mid-thirties and beloved by all who know her. For she glowed with warmth and honest sentiment.” Letters, xviii. The same author met Teilhard in Lucile’s home. He also described Teilhard: “Père Teilhard was a lean, patrician priest. Not the patrician of Roman marble or glazed porcelain, rather, the jagged visaged aristocrat, rough cast in bronze, which is what Lucile was doing….Père Teilhard’s face, a noble construction of rugged angles and furrows and a sensitive mouth, illuminated what he said. And when he was silent it still uttered his moods, slowly sometimes, more often in flashes. He did not withdraw from those about him. He radiated outward to them gravely, merrily, inquiringly. And always with delicate consideration for the other and no concern for self.” Ibid. xviii-ix.
54 Lucile’s words: “For the first time in years I felt young and full of hope again.” Letters, xx.
55 Letters, pp. 3-5.
56 Ibid. pp. 9-14. If there were the facility of email as today, one could imagine that Teilhard would not miss sending email to Lucile every day.
57 Lucile said to her niece: “Do with these as you see fit, but I want my side known.” See ‘Prologue’ in Letters, xvii.
58 Spirit of Fire, P. 82.
59 “…we could be a little like a star, each for the other….A star, leading to the best of the Unknown, in front of us.” Letter, ,p. 8.
60 “When we parted, you observed that I looked somewhat ‘un-personal’. This is probably true. The reason of it, I think, is that, when I look at you, I am searching something in you which is deeper than you,—and which however is the very essence of you.” Letters, p.10.
61 “I dream going to God under the pressure of the strongest and the wildest spirits of the world.” Letters, p. 7. “More and more, I count upon you, for animating me, and directing me, ahead. Life must and will be for both of us a continual discovery – of ourselves, and of the true face of God who is the deepest bond between us.” Ibid. p. 118. “Let us converge, you and me, courageously and happily, toward the new face of God which attracts both of us. – For this fascinating task of discovery I need you, — and I shall always do the utmost for helping you.”Ibid. p. 292.
62 The Heart of Matter, (London: Collins, 1978) p. 59.
63 Quoted by Thomas King: ”Epilogue”, in Letters, p. 295.
64 Letters, p. 262 (Aug.10, 1950).
65 Spirit of Fire, p. 153.
66 Letters, p. 201. “OUR work” Ibid, p. 267. “What is born between us is to live for ever.” Ibid. p. 9.
67 Ibid. p. 63.
68 Letters, p. 148. Gabriel Marcel after the death of his wife Jacqueline lost his talent to improvise musical composition. The presence of a loving person is an absolute necessity for many creative geniuses. See Entretiens Paul Ricoeur-Gabriel Marcel (Paris: Aubier, 1968), pp. 86-7.
69 Letters, p. 45 (Aug. 25, 1935).
70 Ibid., .p. 60 (July 17, 1936).
71 “He is the man I’ve been dreaming to find all my life everything – except why did God put in that little joke of making him a priest.” (Diary of Oct. 14, 1934) , Letters, p. 23. “I get the very best in the world.” Ibid., p. 29. “I love you every minute of every day and that love is going to make me a better and I hope finer woman.” Ibid., p. 18 (Diary).
72 Ibid., p. 28. (Diary)
73 Ibid,.,p. 17 .(Diary)
74 Ibid., p. 34 (Diary). In the thirties of the twentieth century, contraception was not popular, and people used to connect physical union with reproduction. In true love, however, for a married couple to expect children is perfectly normal. If Lucile desired to have children from Teilhard, it was the fulfillment of her love. Teilhard had his view on this kind of fecundity: “Spiritual fecundity accompanying material fecundity ever more closely – and ultimately becoming the sole justification of union. Union for the sake of the child – but why not union for the sake of work, for the sake of the idea? …Is not this spiritual use of the flesh precisely what many men of genius, men who have been true creators, have instinctively found and adopted, without asking the moralists for their approval?” See “The Evolution of Chastity” in Toward the Future, (London: Collins, 1975). This paragraph was cited in Spirit of Fire, p,.152.
75 “I do not belong to myself, -- and consequently I cannot give me entirely and exclusively to anybody.” Letters p.126.
76 Ibid. p, 163 “the one and only Necessary”. For Teilhard, the unum necessarium is God, but for Lucile it was doubtless Teilhard in person.
77 Letters, p. 20 (July 27, 1934) The content of this note coincides exactly with the vow of marriage. Poor Lucile could only keep her desire in her diary. Another great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar had a different kind of discernment and decision from Teilhard’s. He asked permission to leave the Society of Jesus in order to live and share his mystic union with a lady (Adrienne von Speyr) who had the same spiritual aspiration.
78 Letters, p. 34.
79 Spirit of Fire, p. 149. Lucile wrote in her diary: “Maybe something will happen if they would only kick him out!” Letters, p. 21.
80 EF de Lubac, p. 61.
81 “I pray that Our Lady may keep me from going off the rails in a matter which bears equally on two of her most eminent prerogatives (of being Virgin and Mother).” Quoted in EF de Lubac, p. 61-2.
82 The niece of Lucile once asked the latter “if indeed there ever had been a physical confirmation. She replied, ‘Never.” See “Prologue” in Letters, xvii.
83 Spirit of Fire, p. 152. Affection needs expression. Listen to Lucile: “I want to put my arms about you and comfort you. I can’t bear to see you suffering…you would weep on my shoulder…I can give you motherly love and understanding…” Letters, p. 228. Father Yves Raguin gave minimum guidelines for physical expression: “ A glance loaded with desire may already be impure. Clasping hands can express craving for possession on the part of a man or surrender in a woman, manisfesting a hidden impurity of heart. A kiss given in order to awaken in oneself or someone else a forbidden bodily pleasure would be impure, while at the same time the glance, the clasping of hands and the kiss may also be the signs of very pure friendship.” “Chastity and Friendship” in The Way, Supplement 19 (1973), p. 108.
84 Ten years after their acquaintance, Lucile accompanied Teilhard to go back from Vancouver to Peking by the SS Empress (August 2-September, l939). They were on board three weeks together. Back, Lucile wrote an unsent letter where she gave vent to her sentiments which coincided with what she thought eight years before. From the confession, we see that Teilhard’s theory of love à trois didn’t affect Lucile at all. She wrote: “What happens to cause this deep feeling of depression and outbursts like yesterday? The root of the whole thing is that you really do live on a different, a higher, plane than do most of us – and I have always considered you as a regular man – superior, yes, but nevertheless with the same needs as other men. And now I don’t believe that is true – I have thought that there was a certain aloofness or coldness about you which I would help by giving without reserve a deep warm love. But I wonder if you either want or understand it. You love, yes, but on a different plane….I can’t keep up to your plane and I ask for things that you do not want to give because you really don’t understand them – and then that causes an inequality that is ugly. And then these things happen and then I feel like hell. Your God seems so cold, so far away…. You are hampered at every turn by that Order….I know that you do need me too – but how? What can I do. And when I become so damned HUMAN (?) is it really very UGLY? I do appreciate you and I do believe that you have something really important to give man and if there is any way that I can help I really do want to do it. Help me to see and to understand what you see and feel. …It is when I want some human, some warm response from you and day after day it does not come – than that terrible feeling of aloneness and losing you gets more than I can stand – and then I realize that I am not losing anything because I never had it!…Your behavior all seems so contradictory that I don’t know what to think and then the explosion comes –and I will, I will try to remember that the mix-up is all because the plane is not the same. You are not wrong, and I am not wrong, but you are living on a higher plane and I must try to see that and feel it and be a PART of it. And you will help me I know.” Letters, pp. 139-40.
85 Yves Raguin,S.J., “Chastity and Friendship”, in The Way, Supplement 19, (1973), p. 112.
86 Letters, p. 228.
87 “I am sincerely fond of her.”Ibid., p. 196.
88 Ibid., pp.197, 292.
89 “ my best friend here as in Peking”, Ibid.,.p.225. In his “Foreword”, Leroy mentioned: “Teilhard was anxious that his two friends should not meet. And to me was entrusted the job of explaining the situation to Lucile. She was extremely vexed but, with time, things settled down again.” Ibid.,.x.
90 Spirit of Fire, p. 195. Thomas King remarks: “After the War Lucile did not see Teilhard until 1948. then he was weak and still recovering from a severe myocardial infarction. It seems he could not respond to her challenges and expectation. Eventually he began seeing more of Rhoda than Lucile; and his declining health resulted in the strains in their friendship recounted in the later letters.” Letters, p. 297
91 The separation of Helmut and Rhoda de Terra is almost incredible, for Teilhard wrote to Lucile just one year before about the deep love between the couple: “In Philadelphia, I had the most pleasant time, and we talked for hours with Helmut and Rhoda on any possible subject (religion, philosophy, ethics and practical life). It would be difficult to find two people more deeply fond of each other, and yet more different from each other than those two. Rhoda has almost no conscious need of organizing her life under any philosophical nor religious conception; and Helmut is almost douloureusement craving for it. She is full of an happy possession of the present; - and he is full of an anxious anticipation of the future. He therefore is closer to me; but she obliges me to think more, - being given the fact, in addition, that she is terribly intuitive in psychological matters. I hope you will meet them, someday. The Saturday, eve of Easter, we decided to enjoy our time: lunch in a Swedish restaurant, movies in the afternoon, and music in the evening (the 9th symphony of Beethoven in the Philadelphia Orchestra).” Letters,(April 5, 1937) p. 77.
92 Letters to Two Friends:1926-1952 {from Teilhard to Ida Treat 1926-1952 and Rhoda de Terra 1938-1950}.(New York: The New American Library, 1968).
93 Mary and Ellen Lukas, Teilhard.(New York: Doubleday, 1977), p. 307.
94 “Frequent meetings seemed to be too disturbing, and telephoning strained his nerves. Therefore he suggested meeting less often, ‘let us say once a month,’ and being in touch by letter.” Spirit of Fire, p. 215.
95 Letters ,pp. 286-7 (Dec. 20, 1953).
96 In “Epilogue”, Letters,p.197.
97 Letters, p. 292 (Nov.30, 1954). Père Leroy mentioned that Lucile was searching for peace in Indian worship: “Teilhard’s influence on Lucile did not have the effect that might have been expected. Intelligent and independent, she went on to follow a swami in Vedanta contemplation. Here is what Teilhard wrote to me on the matter: ‘Lucile has found peace of mind in a group directed by a Swami. In such circles spirituality seems to me to be terribly vague. But it is not the only issue for countless people who do not manage to pierce that formidable, hardened, outer shell that theologians qualify by the name of orthodoxy?” Ibid, x. Lucile’s niece added: “ but not long before she died she told Swami Nikalananda, her mentor,that she had returned to her Christian faith.” Ibid. ,xvii. About the discussion of Indian theology between Teilhard and Lucile, see Letters, pp. 272-3.
98 Ibid., p. 292.
99 Ibid. p. 293. Lucile desired to have direct experience of grace: “I expect to have Him suddenly and fully revealed to me” Ibid., p.21 (August 8, 1934). Twenty years later, she seemed to have received the experience of God’s presence in her soul
100 Teilhard said to his cousin Jean de Lagarde some days before his death,”I should like to die on the day of the Resurrection.” Letters from a Traveller. (London: Collins, 1962), p.363.
101 Cited in “Epilogue” by T. King, in Letters, p. 296, 297.
102The Heart of Matter,(London: Collins, 1978), p. 59.
103 See note 95.


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