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.

The Pentecost

In praying with artwork on this monumental feast day, I particularly like Jean II Restout's Pentecost (Louvre: Paris, France, 1732). First and foremost is because of the prominence of Mary. She stands in the center atop the altar of the upper room, which is here pictured as a Romanesque courtyard. Interestingly, the scene resembles Raphael's School of Athens. The Church, with Mary beside her son in the instructor's chair, is the new school.

Read more...

Frankenstein

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is actually a fitting Easter season novel. Victor Frankenstein is a doctor, scientist, philosopher and inventor. His creation has no name. It is just called 'the monster.' While the creature may look hideous, its brain is actually quite advanced. It appreciates beauty in nature and the love among family members. It reads significant texts like Paradise Lost, knows the Bible, and speaks eloquently. A far cry from the Hollywood ogre grunting for brains.

Read more...

The Power and the Glory

Graham Green's 1941 novel, The Power and the Glory, centers on an outlaw Catholic priest in 1930s rural Mexico. It received the Hawthornden Prize in British literature and was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century. Today, men studying for the priesthood read the story and priests, like me, reread it throughout their lives.

Read more...

The Tower of David

After an initial victory on the plains of Emmaus, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers set out to attack Jerusalem, which had become an enemy stronghold and from which the whole land was controlled.  This is where we hear mention of "the citadel."  Ah, the citadel of Jerusalem! "The sanctuary was trampled on, and foreigners were in the citadel" (1 Maccabees 3:45).

Read more...

Francisco de Zurbarán's Agnus Dei

 

The simplicity of Francisco de Zurbarán's Agnus Dei (Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain, 1640) draws out intense emotion from the heart of the onlooker.  The 12-month old lamb is laid out on the sacrificial altar, feet corded together and neck graciously offered.  "Like a lamb led to the slaughter, or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7). 

Read more...