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.


Shiloh is a site of two major battles, over two thousand years apart, both of which evoke a sense of tragedy and optimism.  Shiloh in Israel was the site of the first temple or Tabernacle.  When the Israelites moved back into Canaan, reconquering the land they once inhabited, they established the dwelling place for the Ark of the Covenant at the town of Shiloh.  In the year 1024BC, the Philistines engaged Israel in battle near Shiloh.  When the Israelites lost four thousand men on the first day of battle, they decided on the second day to bring the Ark of the Covenant itself with them into the actual fighting, hoping that would reverse their fortune.  It did not. The Philistines overran the Israelite army, stole the Ark, and plundered Shiloh.


John Wayne

John Wayne, born Marion Morrison, died a Catholic.  His grandson is a priest.  Wayne received the Presidential Medal of Freedom because, as President Carter said, he "reflected the best of our national character." Maureen O'Hara, testifying before Congress, spoke of him, "John Wayne is the United States of America. He is what they believe it to be. He is what they hope it will be. And he is what they hope it will always be."  Another actor remarked, "John Wayne was what every young boy wants to be like, and what every old man wishes he had been."  Wayne's biographer, Scott Eyman, wrote of him, "bold, defiant, ambitious, heedless of consequences, occasionally mistaken, primarily alone—larger than life."


The Staircase

The staircase is the featured part of a house during the holidays.  Children run down the stairs with anticipation Christmas morning and in the days after to see their gifts.  Adults walk down with satisfaction to have their coffee and see their family members.  A stairwell leads us down to the splendor.

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled" (Luke 2:1).  The palace of the Roman Emperors was on the Palatine Hill—the centermost of the seven hills of Rome.  One can imagine the page taking the scroll with the decree from Augustus' desk and running down the broad staircase of the palace to the city below and to the world.


Mary, Queen of Peace

Mary, is the "Queen of Peace," as we say in the Litany of Loreto, and yet we hear she was "greatly troubled" when the angel greeted her (Luke 1:29).  Perhaps Mary was concerned because she believed her union with God was secure and the mere mention of it by the angel might mean otherwise.  Or something else.

In Sandro Botticelli's Annunciation (1489, Uffizi, Florence), Mary is stunningly beautiful—more beautiful than the Greek goddess in Botticelli's more famous piece, The Birth of Venus. I picture this scene occurring after the initial greeting and Mary's disturbance.  The angel apologizes for his greeting, saying, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found great favor with God" (Luke 1:30).  Mary, still calm, does not require his apology and explanation, for her trust in God is deep.  She is confident of her love and union with God she needs no assurance that she is favorable in his sight.  Mary is the one in authority in this scene.



Not all families are holy and many people experience anger and impatience dealing with children, parents, siblings, in-laws, and so forth.  It can be worth praying about anger on this feast of the Holy Family.  "Be angry, but do not sin," says Saint Paul, "do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Ephesians 4:26). 

There is legitimate room for anger and reaction when we encounter injustice and evil.  But we have to be on our guard to not let that anger fester overnight and slip into sin.

Spiritual writer Jacques Philippe writes this about the deadly sin:

God's anger is always directed against what is bad for us. He is not angry for himself but to protect people against themselves. But let's not imagine our own anger is always 'holy anger.' Often we become angry under the pretext of defending something essential when we are only acting out of self-love or to protect our own interests.