So, how's your Latin these days?
Quidquid recipitur ad modum recepientis recipitur.
You say, "It's Greek to me!"?
O.K. In right now, good old English it means:
Whatever is received is received in the mode of the receiver.
It is a key maxim in Thomistic Theology and bespeaks a fundamental,
essential factor in our knowing, in our awareness.
This maxim has to do specifically with how things outside us
are taken in and register in our consciousness.
It tells the truth that nothing from outside us comes directly and as is into our awareness.
Everything passes through our filters, and do we ever have a ton of them.
They are markedly different from person to person.
It's not so much that truth is relative as it is that we perceive ( recipitur) everything
relative to our unique manner (ad modum) of receiving - our filters.
So, let's climb down from our lofty perch up here on this ladder of epistemology
and get back to ground level and check out what this maxim pegs for us.
From personal experience I can tell you that whenever I preach a sermon,
or teach a class, everyone there will get what I give from a little differently to big time differently -
assuming they are still awake!!
Routinely I've had people tell me that they were greatly helped by a particular sermon
as well as other people tell me that was a sermon that should never see the light of ever again.
On top of that, some folks have a take away from the sermon that was never given.
Ad modum, personal filters for sure!
One time I was giving a weekend retreat for high school girls.
I started the first session by enthusiastically quoting 1 John 4:8 - " God is love."
Immediately one of the girls started crying and screaming.
All her friends huddled around her. Forget that retreat session!
It seems that just before we left school for the retreat the girl and her boyfriend broke up.
The word "love" was pulled through that painful filter of her's.
Her reaction had nothing to do with the biblical quote,
but everything to do with her personal experience - her filter at the painful time.
There are all sorts of filters:
- personality and temperament
- intellectual capacity
- personal preference ( ice cream to politics )
- awareness levels ( development of consciousness )
- each and every life experience ( good, bad, or otherwise )
- association influences ( every time I hear The Navy Hymn
I picture and feel my emotions as John F. Kennedy's casket
was carried up the Capital steps )
- upbringing ( life style, values, religion or not )
- education ( style, content, influence )
- scads and scads more
Some filters are front and center - quite obvious.
Many are way downstairs in our unconsciousness, but quite operative none the less.
Yet others are emerging ( if interested, see "Beyond the Five Senses,
Telepathy, echolocation, and the future of perception " in the July/August issue of The Atlantic ).
Our filters have a telling effect on our lives - all aspects of them.
That is certainly the case with what we call our spiritual lives.
In his own style, Jesus talked of our filters and their effect on our spiritual lives.
In Mathew 13:1-9 and 18-23, he tells a folk story using an agrarian idiom.
It has to do with seeds and the ground upon which the are sown.
The seeds fall:
- on the path, but the birds snatch them up
- on rocky ground - no depth of soil - the intensity of the sun withers them
- among thorns which choke them
- on good soil in which their potency is released, they grow producing a high yield.
The seed is full of potential.
That potential can result in plenty or not depending on how it is taken by the soil
- how it is received:
What is received is received in the mode of the receiver ( the soil ).
Applied to us, it could look like this.
God wants to give us a high yield of life ( kingdom ),
wants to plant the seeds of plenty in us,
wants to give us ever increasing life,
"I have come that you might have life and have it to the full."
( Jesus in John 10;10).
Yet, it all depends on how we receive ( ad modum ) that seed,
how we filter the offer:
- seed on the path:
the filter here is our way of life,
a path of life like Interstate 80
and we are going 80 miles an hour on it,
we live on the surface, the hard surface of things, rushing,
skimming along, an accelerated journey to get somewhere,
missing the here and now, and what could be.
- seed on the rocky soil:
we filter through a life of instant everything that has next to no depth,
get all excited about things, but the sun of actuality
causes a withering of potential for lack of depth.
- seed among thorns:
the filter here is "the cares of the world and the lure of wealth,"
our primary cares are about power, pleasure, making a name,
we are lured into making a bundle, getting "stuff," and getting stuffed,
a pseudo yield that chokes high yield, that starves us.
- seed on good soil:
our filter is clean, ready rich for growth and fullness,
it accepts the seed and we prosper.
All this brings to mind Richard Rohr's admonition to "cleanse the lens"
- another and clarifying analogy
( see Everything Belongs- one of the best books available on the contemplative life ).
Whatever the imagery, the analogy,
we are invited to receive the seed of enrichment,
" I have come that you might have life and have it to the full."
That will come:
- in sacred writings and sacraments
- in stillness of soul
- in meditation
- through the arts
- through immersion in the wonders of creation
- through a good read
- through a lover's union
- through working for social justice
- through an inspiration in the shower
- through worship and liturgy
- by caring for and sharing with those in need
- and endlessly more as long as our filters are clear
and don't block.
Some ways to provide good soil, to cleanse the lens, to have open and accepting filters:
- be a Soul Conservationalist:
survey and evaluate the soil your currently are,
find good fields of thinking, feeling, and experiencing,
do a self inventory of the type soils ( filters )
that block and those that welcome spiritual fecundity
- get a Spiritual Ophthalmologist:
consult regularly with a spiritual friend or spiritual director
to check out your lenses, how you see things, to see if you don't see
so well due to some sort of spiritual cataract.
- practice the Examen:
daily,in a quiet, honest way review what your filters did with the
seeds of grace that presented in the realness and actuality of your day.
God wants to implant his life in us. All we have to do is give God a clear channel.,
make sure that our Ad Modum is open and welcoming.
As always, thank your company as together we seek to free up for spirituality
out here on the street of every day life.
Hope to see you next week.
You are in my prayer, and I sure would appreciate your prayer.
Holding you in God's Dear Love,
We are reminded by Jesus that it all depends on being "good soil,"
having a clear lens, on having a filter that welcome light!!