My Writings. My Thoughts.
Several revered religious icons, dating from the earliest centuries, depict a similar image of Our Lord. We consider reasons for these similarities. Could these offer additional reasons to believe the Holy Shroud of Turin may have been the burial cloth covering Jesus? There is also significant evidence that suggests the Templar Knights of France were once keepers of the Holy Shroud, but how did they come into possession of it? Finally, recent scientific investigations, based on analysis of pollens found on the Shroud, suggest it may indeed have traveled from Jerusalem to Edessa, from Edessa to Constantinople, from Constantinople to France, and from France to Italy. What wonders God has wrought!
In 1350, the French knight, Geoffroi de Charny from Lirey, claimed to be in possession of the shroud that wrapped Jesus’ body after his death. This is a fascinating fact, but is there information that supports this claim? One of the most amazing pieces is found in the discovery of 1898: the image on the Shroud is actually a giant negative! The Shroud appears to have acted as photographic film for some mysterious light source! In addition, the history of religious art and iconography portraying the face of Jesus also positively refutes the already questionable Carbon 14 dating test conducted in 1988. This is the first part in a series of talks based on the 2014 exposition, “La Sabana Santa” in the Diocesan Museum, Zaragoza, Spain.
Jesus remains at peace despite his trial and pending death. When we face our trials, what is our state of mind? If we lose, say, some of our ability to think clearly or our confidence, we can draw strength from Jesus’ example. In the trial before Pilate, Jesus is mindful of his mission (Jn 18: 37). This provides meaning, and from meaning, strength. During our trials, we can invite Our Lord to be with us, to help us carry our crosses to make them redemptive. Pilate recognizes this inner strength in Jesus when he presents him to the crowd, saying “Behold, the man!”.
Both in the Garden of Gethsemane and again while being interrogated by Caiaphas and Pilot, Jesus remains the master of his circumstances. By grace, we too can overcome our feelings that may rush upon us during important moments, or may have plagued us for years. Our feelings can prevent us from giving better witness to Christ with our lives. At times, we are not unlike Peter, both for better and for worse. However, we can see how in John 18 Jesus and Peter respond to their difficult circumstances. We can learn from this and draw the grace we need from Our Lord.
During our life challenges, do we not sometimes wonder where is Jesus? Have we ever asked: ‘how is it that St. John could recline against Our Lord’s breast at the Last Supper? Does Our Lord not know that I want that life-giving closeness also?!’ In this program we contrast the choices at the Last Supper made by John and Judas in response to Our Lord’s love and trust in them. We consider some of those things that cloud Judas’ spiritual understanding and so greatly clear them for St. John.
Jesus invites us to consider him more closely in his actions during the Last Supper. We consider his actions toward all of the disciples and, in particular, with John and Judas. There are four keys to understanding Our Lord more closely in this scene and we can witness the effects. We are invited to imitate Our Lord and offer the same good to those around us.
Does the story of the grain of wheat dying (Jn 12: 24), make you wonder what choice it really had? Can we imagine it resisting nature and deciding to live?! Yet, I wonder whether we sometimes attempt this sort of thing, acting against our spiritual natures. Is there some of this in our holding to certain ideas, to our pride, or anger? St. John in his Gospel invites us to “bear much fruit”, and to do so by loving our brothers “to the end”, especially when it is difficult. This is quite an opportunity for anyone who has ever prayed for a loved one’s change of heart! In addition to the promise of “much fruitfulness”, our dying-to-self also opens our hearts to a special closeness with Our Lord. We see this particularly in John and his Gospel.
C.S. Lewis shows the danger of relativism in education. Once a person is formed in it, he suffers the loss of “will, of strength and of creativity” (1). With regard to subjects such as math, science and language arts, we know how vital they are to a professional career. However, do we recognize that there are other subjects which make possible a life that is fulfilling and satisfying? Are not these characteristics more important than having the best job? A Catholic education is not just about forming students in math, science and the language arts, but also about learning to appreciate truth, beauty and goodness. Pope Francis in his encyclical “Evangelii Gaudium” encourages this type of education to offset the fallout from growing secularism.
(1) The Abolition of Man, C. S. Lewis, Chptr 1.