having a human experience

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a French philosopher, paleontologist, geologist, and Jesuit priest. In addition to taking part in the discovery of the Peking Man, he also wrote two comprehensive works, The Phenomenon of Man and The Divine Milieu. In the latter work he wrote “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

What Teilhard de Chardin offers is a refreshing perspective on our existence that few have ever considered. Common wisdom speaks through our human experience, through our hearts and minds. We acknowledge the existence of our soul even though we cannot touch, hold, feel, or see that which defines who we are. We do not comprehend that, created in the image and likeness of God, our true nature belongs among the eternal and the spiritual.

We see ourselves as the egg without any understanding or comprehension of the life that exists beyond the shell, of the life that coexists within something so much greater. We differentiate ourselves from the rest of God’s creation by pronouncing that we are greater because we have a soul, that we are human because within us exists a spirit that elevates us beyond the ordinary.

It is our human conceit that allows us to believe that the spirit lies within our humanity and that our soul’s existence is dependent upon our coming into being. What conceit! Our souls will live forever, outside of time, with or without our bodies and our humanity. It is our soul, our spiritual being that envelopes and embodies our human experiences.

It is our soul that is closest to God. It is our spirit that experiences far more than we can or ever will experience as human beings. Our human experiences are but a small portion of the wonder of our creation and it is in our understanding of this that we can begin to prioritize and order our lives here on this earth.

A sign outside a small rural church read “Make God your first priority, not your last resort.” It is important that we see ourselves, both human and spirit, in the proper perspective. We must let our spirit, our soul lead the way to holiness and to God.

Teilhard de Chardin believed that all we do in life, whether religious or secular, when performed at our best, leads to holiness. He dismissed the notion, held by many over the past two centuries, that only the religious could be ‘holy’. He believed that all work, both religious and secular, is an essential component of creation and the Incarnation, and therefore should be offered up for the glory of God.

It is the spirit that drives us toward holiness, toward God. It is the spirit that contains our humanity that holds all that we are and will ever be. The human mind and heart are far too limited to go much beyond the search for sustenance and ordinary living. When we free ourselves from the idea that the soul lies within our greater selves and allow our spirit to lead us, to take in all that we experience then we will have come to terms with all of who and what we truly are; and that will be spiritual beings having human experiences.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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