Tassel of the Cloak

Tassel of the CloakGod is in everything, be it sports or music or history or business or wine-making or church or whatever. Everywhere we look there is a spiritual metaphor to be found. Some metaphors may be hidden, some overt. I will attempt to point them out to you. That is the purpose of these laconic reflections. They are mostly intended to be fun and interesting. Perhaps, though, the reflections will provide you some guidance. Perhaps they will lead you to see everything through a spiritual lens, thus appreciating Catholicism all the more. When Jay Cutler throws a Hail Mary at the end of the half, might you move beyond your frustration with the Bears' offensive ineptitude and think of the Blessed Mother? Just an example.

These reflections will only be an introduction to deeper spiritual and theological truths. Hence the title, The Tassel of the Cloak. When David cuts off the tassel of Saul's cloak and shows it to him (cf. 1 Sam 24), Saul realizes that David is not his enemy. That moves them into a new relationship. Likewise, the hemorrhaging woman's grasping of the tassel on Christ's cloak in Luke 8:44 opens the door to her healing and conversion. The tassel was merely an entryway. The mundane anecdotes and simple spiritual lessons I provide are, in my opinion, the tassel. There's much more to Christ's Cloak. I hope you will experience it. So, please, go ahead and "Touch the Hem of His Garment." That is, by the way, the title of a Sam Cooke song.

Father William Doyle, SJ

Father William Doyle, SJ was a well-known preacher and spiritual director in the early 20th Century.  He traveled the world giving missions and retreats, helping bring people closer to Jesus.  And yet he wrote these words in his journal while making the Spiritual Exercises on his 30-Day retreat in 1907:

Each fresh meditation of the life of our Lord impressed on me more and more the necessity of conforming my life to His in every detail, if I wish to please Him and to become holy. To do something great and heroic may never come to me, but I can make my life heroic by faithfully and daily putting my best effort into each duty as it comes around.

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The Angel's Share

Occasionally I will have a sip of something when I read scripture, either coffee in the morning or a beer in the evening, but often not grappa.  I felt inclined to have that digestivo, however, when I read this line from the prophet Isaiah: "Thus says the Lord: When the juice is pressed from grapes, men say 'Do not discard them, for there is still good in them'; Thus will I do with my servants; I will not discard them all" (Isaiah 65:8).

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Blessed Frederic Ozanam

Most of the "O" streets in Chicago come from either Native American tribes or chiefs, like Osceola and Ottawa, or from real estate developers, like Olcott and Odell.  But one street name in Edison Park is different: Ozanam.  The 7800W to 7600N section of the city is named after Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

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Catholicism Transcends All Divides

Lieutenant Joseph Dutton of the Union Army crawled out into the night during a Civil War battle and dragged a wounded soldier back to camp.  When the light was shone upon the rescuee, a comrade remarked, "The joke's on you, Dutton, this man is a rebel." Dutton did not flinch, but simply responded, "that I knew."

When the War ended, the talented Dutton ventured into a variety of careers, but none would satisfy his restlessness.  He converted to Catholicism and after spending some time in prayer at Gethsemani Monastery in Kentucky, where Thomas Merton would enter sixty years later, Dutton discovered his calling.  At 43, he traveled to San Francisco and from there set sail.

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Spiritual Desolation

"Magnificent Desolation."  Those were the first words spoken by the second man on the moon as he stood on the new terrain.  And more striking than the first man's words they are. True progress for mankind is ultimately in the spiritual and moral realm, and sometimes we advance through desolation and darkness.

Desolation, or desolatio, has the Latin word for sun, solis, in its root.  The sun is darkened or declined in this style of prayer. We do not feel the warmth of God.  Prayer is, instead, flat, dry, and difficult.

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