Love, sex, and cosmic evolution – center for action and contemplation 7 gas station

Sister Ilia Delio, a Franciscan professor and theologian, has a wonderful way of making the brilliant writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin accessible. Teilhard (1881-1955) was a French philosopher, Jesuit priest, and paleontologist who brought a scientific and mystical perspective to his faith. In her book, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being , Delio writes:

Teilhard speaks of the “creative role of erotic attraction” not only on the level of the individual but the universe itself is erotic. [1] Passion is the true stuff of the universe; “the whole creation is groaning in the pains of new birth” (Romans 8:22). Every star, cell, flower, bird, and human person yearns for wholeness and completeness. Sex is not a mere continuation of the species; it is the energy of love by which this universe is in the process of personalization, becoming more spiritualized, energized, and conscious. . . .

Modern culture’s preoccupation with the physical body and the exploitation of the body as soulless matter reflects the deep human disconnect from self, neighbor, earth, and God. Sex has become more like a video game with the goal of winning rather than part of the deep religious core of cosmic evolution. . . .

Evolution continues through humanity only when there is consciousness of love as the integral wholeness of love that includes a healthy sexuality. Awareness of our desires and attention to our deepest longings must orient us toward a unified heart and consciousness. Love is more than a survival mechanism; it is the fire breathed into the fabric of the cosmos that enkindles life, rendering life more than biological function. Love turns passion into transformative power.

One might say that evolution depends on healthy sexuality. The love between persons creates a thread of passionate energy that winds around the embrace of persons and enters into the heart of the cosmos, contributing to the energetic movement of universal convergence. Love is what “makes the world go ‘round.” It is fundamental to the forward movement of evolution and cosmic personalization. It is the whole of every whole, the open, dynamic field of energy that seeks greater wholeness within every star, leaf, plant, and galaxy.

By the sheer power of its energy, love draws everything into an endless depth of greater wholeness. On the level of human consciousness, the core energy of personal/sexual love must reach out to the wider realm of humanity that includes love of neighbor, friendship, and love of the stranger. Love, sex, and cosmic evolution are intertwined in a field of integral wholeness; to deny, avoid, or negate any of them is to thwart the process of deepening life.

Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013), 47-51. Image credit: Study of a Boy Turning His Head (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, c. 1529, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy. Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If Jesus shows us what the completed human being looks like in male form, Mary Magdalene models it for us in its female version; together they become the Christosophia, the androgynous archetype of human wholeness. —Cynthia Bourgeault