Exploring Teilhard’s ‘New Mysticism’

‘Building the Cosmos’


  • James W. Skehan Boston College




Teilhard, Jesuit, de Lubac, mystic, spirituality


This paper is an approach to Teilhard de Chardin’s thought that links the spiritual with the material in a mysticism of ‘communion with God through Earth’. Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) was a French Jesuit priest, paleontologist-geologist and mystic. Major influences that shaped his personal, religious and academic life, his thought and spirituality include: Teilhard’s interactions with extended family and friends, his Jesuit colleagues, World War II soldiers and fellow scholars. His personal influence and writings played a significant role in discussions of science and religion in the twentieth century. The growing attractiveness and availability of his written works and commentaries suggest that his influence may become much greater in the twenty-first century as the lived implications for personal spirituality become better known and understood. Aspects of Teilhard’s thought have been reflected in documents of Vatican Council II
and in favorable commentary on his thought by distinguished theologian, Henri Cardinal de Lubac. I believe that his lifelong practice of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits, himself a mystic, exerted a most powerful influence on Teilhard’s spirituality and thought. As yet Teilhard is underrated by comparison with his potential to influence Christianity as his ‘new mysticism’ becomes more widely understood as the powerful force which he claimed it could be in today’s culture. Additionally, his writings in English, available only since the mid- to late-1950s, require more than a casual reading.

Author Biography

James W. Skehan, Boston College

Professor and Director Emeritus Weston Observatory, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Boston College, Chestnut Hill MA 02493, USA


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How to Cite

Skehan, J. W. (2005). Exploring Teilhard’s ‘New Mysticism’: ‘Building the Cosmos’. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 10(1), 11–34. https://doi.org/10.1558/ecotheology.v10i1.11