“By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (Jn 15:8). We hear quite a bit about fruit throughout Scripture. Jesus tells us that if we remain in him, like a branch connected to the vine, we will bear fruit. He also speaks of a good tree bearing good fruit—“by their fruits you will know them” (Matt 7:20). St. Paul talks about the fruits of the Holy Spirit in his letter to the Galatians (cf. Gal 5:22-23), and, of course, we have the most well-known and infamous fruit of all—the apple, the cause of our downfall when consumed by Adam and Eve.
God 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.
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, had a daughter named Fatima. When she died at age 29 in the early 7th Century it is reported that her father said, in grief, “She has the highest place in heaven after the Virgin Mary.” Muhammad did not mourn too long however. In the subsequent years his religion spread across the Middle East, Africa, and into Europe. In 711, the Crescent crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and a small town named Salatia, on the east coast of the Iberian Peninsula, was conquered. In the 12th Century the Christians organized themselves and reconquered Spain and Portugal, including this small town. During the reconquista, the Muslim princess of Salatia, named Fatima, was captured. Falling in love with the Spanish Count of Ourem, Fatima converted to Catholicism. Like Muhammad's daughter, Fatima died prematurely and her hometown, reclaimed for Catholicism, was renamed in her honor.
On August 27, 1942, General George C. Marshall wrote the following in a letter to John Hildring, upon Hildring's appointment as the head of the Army Civil Affairs branch:
“We have a great asset and that is that our people, our countrymen, do not distrust us and do not fear us. Our countrymen, our fellow citizens, are not afraid of us. They don't harbor any ideas that we intend to alter the government of the country or the nature of this government in any way. This is a sacred trust that I turn over to you today. We are completely devoted, we are a member of a priesthood really, the sole purpose of which is to defend the republic.”(emphasis mine)
Nellie Organ was born in Waterford, Ireland on August 24, 1903. Nellie's father, William, wrote of his daughter, “When only two, she would clasp my hand and toddle off to Mass, prattling all the way about Holy God. That was the way she always spoke of God, and I do not know where she could have learned it.”
Poor Nellie was afflicted with severe scoliosis and would spend much of the nights coughing and crying. The toddler's comfort came, amazingly, from visits to church to see the Eucharist. She would point to the monstrance and whisper, “Mudder, there He is, there is Holy God!” Nellie desired to receive communion, but she was too young, as the age for First Communion at the time was twelve. Instead she would ask those who had just received communion to give her a kiss so she could have some contact with Jesus.
William Shakespeare's original patron was a Catholic and when Shakespeare came into his own he bought a house in London that housed and hid Catholic priests. When he retired to Stratford, one of Shakespeare's few visitors was John Robinson, a Catholic to whom Shakespeare had leased his London house, called the Blackfriars Gatehouse. An Anglican clergyman sighed upon Shakespeare's death that he had “dyed a papist.” All of this in addition to the many Catholic references and themes in Shakespeare's works, from Purgatory to the Mass, seem to indicate the greatest writer in human history was Catholic.