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.

Death from the Sky

A string of tornadoes ripped through Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania on May 31, 1985, killing eighty-nine, injuring over one thousand, and causing more than $600 million worth of damage.  "Death from the Sky" read the headline of the Erie Times newspaper the following day. 

Albion in Pennsylvania was particularly devastated by this storm.  An F5 tornado cut a two-block wide path through the town, killing twelve and injuring dozens more.  The local Catholic parish, St. Lawrence, was literally sliced in half.  The pastor, Father Robert Reilly, survived by holding on to a window frame as the rest of the rectory was blown away. 

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Death from the Sky

A string of tornadoes ripped through Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania on May 31, 1985, killing eighty-nine, injuring over one thousand, and causing more than $600 million worth of damage.  "Death from the Sky" read the headline of the Erie Times newspaper the following day. 

Albion in Pennsylvania was particularly devastated by this storm.  An F5 tornado cut a two-block wide path through the town, killing twelve and injuring dozens more.  The local Catholic parish, St. Lawrence, was literally sliced in half.  The pastor, Father Robert Reilly, survived by holding on to a window frame as the rest of the rectory was blown away. 

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Courage to Walk the Road with God

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy is a very Lenten book.  In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and son journey through a desolate landscape in which ash inexorably falls, seeking food, shelter, and survival from cannibals.  The world is completely evil and fallen, and yet the love between father and son, and the innate goodness within the boy--the "fire within"--provides hope.

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Prayers and Preachers

To be great preachers—and everyone, not just priests, are called to preach—we must be great prayers.  Only from our prayer life and our intimate communion with God does the conviction to follow the Gospel proceed.  Read how often our Lord "went off to a deserted place to pray."  He feeds the multitude, he delivers his sermons, he amazes the crowds, and still he retreats to his cave to be alone with God the Father.  The more we pray and the more quiet time we spend with God, the more we become like God and the more attractive our words and our witness become to others.  Then we preach effectively and make disciples.

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Lenten Disciplines

Lenten disciplines require mindfulness. We need to attune our brains to work whenever we feel the urge to do a certain thing: drink, check email, bite our nails.  We feel the urge, we are mindful of what sensation that particular habit gives us, we wonder if this sensation is really actually helpful (we realize biting nails does not relieve stress and is painful), and we begin to rewire the neural firing patterns of our brain so we do not fall automatically into that habit.

The same goes for feelings of shame, anxiety or even distractions in our prayer.  If we can be mindful of why are feeling shame, we will begin to see that the shame is not rooted in reality (God is not ashamed of us) and reject that negative way of thinking.

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