According to its author, Francis Kelly Nemeck, 'Receptivity' is a study of what it means to be receptive to God, as found in the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and St. John of the Cross. The book deals with the problem of evil, particularly the aspects of suffering and death. Given the universal facts of suffering and death, the author stresses their positive and constructive contribution to the spiritual growth of the human person. Although this study may appear scholarly, it is nonetheless steeped in the life-experiences of St. John, Teilhard, and the author himself.
John of the Cross (1542-1591) was born into dire poverty. He lost his father and a brother at an early age. As a youth, John worked his way through school, and when the plague hit Spain, he served as an orderly in a local charity hospital. At the age of thirty-five, he was kidnapped, tortured, and thrown into a dungeon by a faction within the Carmelite order that he was trying to reform. Emaciated by dysentery, John managed to escape after nine months of solitary confinement. He died thirteen years later after a long bout with osteomyelitis and gangrene.
Teilhard (1881-1955) also knew intense pain, most of it emotional. As a youth, he survived several tragic deaths in his family. During World War I, he was a stretcher bearer on the front lines. He lost two more brothers and many close friends in the war. During his early forties, Teilhard was relieved of his teaching post in Paris and forced into exile because of accusations of unorthodoxy and heresy made by factions within the ecclesiastical hierarchy.