Communion through Diminishment

By Sister Justine Nutz, SSND

We hold in our hearts many sisters, beloved relatives and friends who are currently suffering serious illnesses and many who have recently gone on to God.  

This reflection by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, written almost 100 years ago, seems especially relevant:

It was a joy to me, o God, in the midst of the struggle, to feel that in developing myself I was increasing the hold that you have upon me; it was a joy to me too, under the inward thrust of life or amid the favorable play of events, to abandon myself to your providence.  

Now that I have found the joy of utilizing all forms of growth to make you, or let you, grow in me, grant that I may willingly consent to this last phase of communion in the course of which I shall possess you by diminishing in you.

After having perceived you as one who is a 'greater myself', grant, when my hour comes, that I may recognize you under the species of each alien or hostile force that seems bent upon destroying or uprooting me. 

When the signs of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind); when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within me; when the painful moment comes in which I suddenly awaken to the fact that I am ill or growing old; and above all at that last moment when I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive within the hands of the great unknown forces that have formed me; in all these dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is you (provided only my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself.

The more deeply and incurably the evil is encrusted in my flesh, the more it will be you that I am harboring - you as a loving, active principle of purification and detachment.  

The more the future opens up before me like some dizzy abyss or dark tunnel, the more confident I may be - if I venture forward on the strength of your word - of losing myself and surrendering myself in you, of being assimilated by your body, Jesus.

You are the irresistible and vivifying force, O Lord, and because yours is the energy, because, of the two of us, you are infinitely the stronger, it is on you that falls the part of consuming me in the union that should weld us together.  

Vouchsafe, therefore, something more precious still than the grace for which all the faithful pray. 

It is not enough that I should die while communicating.

Teach me to treat my death as an act of communion.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ   
The Divine Milieu  

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