Saturday, July 29, 2017


Hi There!

So, how's your Latin these days?

How about

                 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.

Same sermon!

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,

his 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

                                    in you.

                                   - 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,

                 John Frank








We are reminded by Jesus that it  all depends on being "good soil,"

having  a clear lens, on having a filter that welcome light!!




Saturday, July 22, 2017


Hi There!

So, there's this wonderful energy flow in life.

We get to have it surge right through us and on  to others.

In the intensity, we get hot wired.


Simple story.

Years ago I filled in one summer for the pastor of St. Vincent De Paul Church in New Hope, KY.

Beautiful area, beautiful people, beautiful farms and hills

- a few miles from thee Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani.


On the first Friday of the month the practice was to visit and bring Holy Communion

to the homebound of the parish.

Before the pastor left he gave me a hand drawn map ( no GPS back then )

so I could find my way around the back roads and up the hills.

On the map was a  special notation about Mrs. Brady.

Evidently she lived way up in the hills .I'd  have to navigate rough, rutted roads to get there.

The notation read: "Dogs!! Stay in car til son calls them off."

Was that ever so!!

When I did get there all sorts of yelping threats to life and limb surrounded and jumped up on the car.

You can bet your sweet bippie I stayed in the car, windows up tight ( and so was I!!!).

Mrs. Brady's son came out and literally  called off the dogs.

He was somewhere in his sixties, skinny, bib overalls, no shirt, real friendly.

Took me to his mom.

She was sitting in a rocking chair by the window in a long dress and bonnet.

Picture Whistler"s Mother and you've got it!

She greeted me warmly and vigorously;

" Come on in here, Father. Hear tell you're from up there around NEW York.

Never got out of Nelson County myself. Tell me all about it, would ya?"

That got us going on a happy, wide ranging visit.

Getting ready for Holy Communion, I asked Mrs. Brady if she would like to go to confession first.

Without skipping a beat she responded, " Yep! Sure am sorry for all them damn sins!"

That was that!

The most no frills confession I ever heard!

We went to  share a truly prayerful, "holy" communion.

As I gave her a hug good by, Mrs. Brady reached down into her sewing basket

and handed me a ten dollar bill (easily twenty in today's money ).

We went through the back and forth of my " Oh, thank you, but I couldn't,"

to her " You're such a sweetie to come all the way up here to see me."

She wouldn't give on gifting..

On the way out I explained to her son that I really couldn't take the money.

He smiled and said: " Oh hell, Father, every month  when that other priest comes up here,

Ma asks me for ten dollars, I give it to her, she gives it to the priest, the priest gives it to me.

That there ten dollar bill's been going round and round like that for years."

If I had refused Mrs. Brady's gift, or gotten grubby and  kept the ten dollar bill,

I would have short circuited a unique surge of goodness.

How wonderful that we all  are invited to the high intensity spiritual phenomenon of getting gifted

 and giving  those gifts every day in all sorts of settings and occurrences.

We are like a high voltage wire receiving and passing on the current of goodness

to people, places, things - indeed, to all encountered creation.

         - It could be pleasantness of response after being put on hold for just this side of forever.

         - It could be genuinely forgiving someone who has screwed us over yet again.

         - It could be recycling everything, returning our gifts to nature for re-gifting.

         - It could be sharing ourselves and what we have by taking in a foster child.

         - It could mean attentive listening to a story our ancient of days relative retells so often

           we could repeat it backwards in Chinese.

         - It could be advocating for social and environmental justice.

In the Christian tradition all this wonderful energy flow in life is called grace,

a participation in the very Energy, the very Life and Love that is God.

We are invited to personally, openly " be on line " to receive and transmit

that goodness in all the practicals and particulars of life out here on the street of everyday living.

We accept gift and play it forward.

We are gifted to give.

" The gift you have been given, give as a gift."  ( Paraphrase of 1 Peter 4: 10 )

" A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other." ( 1 Corinthians 12:7  )

How good to be "gifted " with your company today.

I appreciate your grace gift.


Look forward to being together next week

( New postings go up toward the end of each week ).

Holding you in God's Dear Love,

           John Frank

Some Meditation Markers for the week;

      - " Love is the bridge between you and everything."
                                                                                                                                       ( Rumi )

      - " We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly and without hesitation:

           for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers."                            
                                                                                                                                       ( Seneca )

       - " Open you hands if you want to be held."                                                        
                                                                                                                                        (  Rumi )

       - " Give and it will be given unto you, a good measure, pressed down,

            shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.

            for the measure with which you measure will be measured to you."                                     
                                                                                                                                         ( Jesus )

        - " Be foolish in love because love is all there is."                                           
                                                                                                                                          ( Rumi )

        - " The only gift is a portion of thyself."                                          
                                                                                                               (  Ralph Waldo Emerson )

        - " A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover

             as the love of the giver."                                                                 
                                                                                                                          ( Thomas a Kempis )



Saturday, July 15, 2017


Hi There!

So, there are all sorts of moments, movements and emotions in our spiritual lives:

searching and seeking, confusion, enlightenment, ecstasy, dryness, consolation,

stretch and stress, clarity and peace, and every so awful often, volcanic eruption.

We may have a bit of a superficial, rational understanding of such a volcanic eruption,

but the molten center of it all is quite another story - a mystery misadventure with chapters to go.

Change, loss, loneliness, emotional/body cravings may present as the cause of the eruption,

but in all truth they really aren't. They are manifestations rather than core cause.

The core cause is at the center of who we are and that core  churns up a firestorm of fury.

That core intensity, that molten fire down deep is relational,, not rational.

It is about the kind of relationship we have with the only "self" who really exists,

with the only "others" who really exist, with the only "Ultimate" that really exists.

In hard honesty all these relationships get thrown off, fired up and chaotic because

from the get go we want to be the center of it all.

(The early Christians called it Original Sin).

Infantile Control at the core,

and as that core control gets frustrated  we boil over, we erupt.

To keep changing the metaphor, we

                                                         "CRIB SCREAM."

The hard truth is that we have to grow out of infantile self centerdness more than  many  times

over the years before we are ready for the relationships that let the real "self" out

and the real "others" in with the resultant oneness with both in the Ultimate.

Until then we just have different modes and stages of acting out, erupting, as our

infantile demand that "other" and  the "Ultimate" center on us, and not our true self at that.

The infantile screams at the frustration, the denial of its demand for

                                                  SINGULAR DOMINANCE.

Donald  Trump tweets a vicious, violent video, outraged at the media denial of his demand for

                                                   SINGULAR DOMINANCE.

Donald Trump is not alone, just very public. You and I have our own unique, often ever so subtle

                                                       " CRIB SCREAMS."

                  - Posturing service so as to get our way and wishes serviced.

                  - Pretending relational oneness to get others to go to bed with us sexually, socially,

                    economically, professionally to name a few of too many.

                   - Having a partner, spouse or child as an ego or social ornament.

                   - Going "spiritual" more for psychic soothing than for enspirited surrender

                     to the Ultimate.

                   - "Feel Good" religion, social/environmental/political activity that takes a "time out"

                     as we take refuge in a life style of comfort and convenience.

                   - Some variation of going on a cruise of self indulgence - publicity or priority seeking,

                     "shopping till we drop," over eating/drinking, surround sound distractions.

                    - Putting civility in cold storage.

                    - Some version of emotional/social "body slamming" the disliked, the bothersome,

                       the inconvenient, the challenging.

These are attitudinal/action examples of demand for

                                                          SINGULAR DOMINANCE.

Over the years we do manage some acceptance and relationship with the only "self" that really exists,

with the only "others" that really exist, with the only "Ultimate" that really exists,

but it is often incremental and the demand for
                                                           SINGULAR DOMINANCE

worms its way into the mix and makes us crazy as we play forward the lie that all relationships

must spin around the center of our false selves.

For all the fiery furry, though, we are invited to grow out of limiting self centeredness.

All it takes is surrender.

When we surrender the tiny we are open and free for the full.

When we surrender our demand to be the center of things we are open and free to be not

                                                                       The Center



                                                                    in the actual and

                                                         ULTIMATE CENTER OF ALL

                                 whose   center  is every and whose circumference is nowhere

                                                                     ( Bonaventure).

To change the metaphor one last time, we are like a drop of water.

When we stop pretending that we are the ocean,

we go oceanic!!!

Thanks for the chance to be together.

A real blessing.

"How good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell as one."

                                                                        Psalm 133:1

Looking forward to our sharing next week.

In God's Dear Love,

   John Frank

Typically a new post goes up toward the end of each week.

Saturday, July 8, 2017


Hi There!

So, let's welcome back Caly McCarthy.

Caly has graced us before with her Mary Oliver-like spirituality.

She just graduated from Dickenson College and is now doing a year of service

at Camphill, in Capake, NY.

The Dickenson Review 2017 features  a recent piece of  Caly's.

It is about a daughter/dad love.

It's divine love personalized at a supermarket.


                                                            Caly McCarthy

There was a great commercial
a few years back
of a dad
purchasing tampons for his newly bleeding daughter
while she sat
in the car.

I take care
of my own menstrual products,
but I know
that my father loves me
he buys me yogurt.

My father has worn
a self-appointed uniform
of khaki pants,
a collared,
blue and white pinstripe shirt,
and a Land's End,
navy blue,
V-necked sweater
for the last twenty-seven years.
He readily admits
that he cannot multitask.
and, yet,
he buys me yogurt.

In the supermarket parking lot
he deposits twenty-five cents
to release the contraption
that locks one cart
to the next,
jangling the chain
and freeing
the reinforced
chicken-wire on wheels.
Probably he doesn't need it.
It's overkill
for thirty-two ounces
of strained milk,
but he
is a man who appreciates ritual.

He follows the perimeter
of the store,
the refrigerated path
to the promised land
of culturally-appropriate bacteria.
Arriving in Aisle Twenty-One,
he consults his list.
It says:
Stonyfield Greek,
vanilla yogurt.
He consults the wall.
It says:
organic, fruit-on-the-bottom, with almonds, sans fat, gluten-free, bound to
        make you joyful and
prosperous, please consider reading The Paradox of Choice.

The refrigerator case
is a matrix of variables,
a prime application
of conditional probability statements.
My father has never
excelled in math., but still he skims
the non-fat selections.
He cannot find one to my specifications.

He pulls out his phone.
It is a newfangled
piece of technology,
capable of telling you
about predicted humidity levels,
and giving you directions
to the nearest gas station
that sells diesel,
and calculating gratuity
for when you go out to eat.

He dials it.
I am in his"Favorites" list,
but he was born
in a generation
when you learned
the phone number
of your friends.

I don't pick up.
My phone is on vibrate,
and I am in class.

He leaves a message,
asks me to call him back,
he wants to make sure
that he's looking
for the right thing.

He walks around the store,
takes his blood pressure
at the machine
near the pharmacy.
It's 110 over 78.
He writes it down,
will tell us at dinner
how impressive it is,
especially for a man his age.

He checks the phone.
I haven't called back.
He walks to the Courtesy Desk,
explains that there's no
Stonyfield Greek,
vanilla yogurt
in Aisle Twenty-One.
On their loudspeaker
they interrupt Maroon Five
to ask Someone in Dairy,
to Call 2-4-5 Someone in Dairy,
to Call 2-4-5.

Dairy calls 2-4-5.
They have yogurt in the back.
How many do you want?
My dad requests six.
He's always believed in buying in bulk.

My dad doesn't care for yogurt,
but he fond
of oatmeal raisin cookies,
and I am fond of him,
though I don't care much for shriveled grapes.
I think that I
will make a batch
of Quaker cookies
to remind him
how much I love him.


Cosmic Love happens locally!!

Cosmic Love happens personally!!

Thanks to Caly for visiting us.

Glad we were able to be together today.

Look forward to seeing you next week.

Holding you in God's Dear Love.

                  John Frank

For folks new to "frankly speaking,"

a new post goes up toward the end of each week.