Stations of the Cross (Shroud cont'd)
March 26, 2020

Eighth Station: Mourning

Scripture:

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” (Lk. 23:27-28)

Invocation:

Eternal Father, we offer you the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  May its almighty power free us of our sins, lead our departed sisters and brothers to eternal joy and immerse your Church in love and unity.  Amen.

Meditation:

            The Man of Sorrows who, at the same time, is the Sovereign of Humanity, seeks no earthly glory.  Those who sought to make him an earthly king -- whether during the satanic desert temptations, or in response to some of his miracles, or while the crowds shouted “Hosanna” as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey’s foal -- were all met with a resolute renunciation of such blandishments.  On the contrary, he warned his disciples more than once not to imitate the rulers of the Gentiles who lord their authority over others and held up slave-service as the Christian ideal for exercising power (cf. Mt. 20:25-26, Lk. 22:25-26).  All of which was summed up in the supreme irony written on the placard hung around his neck during the way of the cross and later affixed to the gibbet: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” in the several languages of the Empire.

            Of course, the disciples of Jesus, past and present, have had a hard time renouncing power and the symbols of those who wield it, everything from papal tiaras and apostolic palaces, to canonical language about “ordinary jurisdiction” that has sometimes been used to make threats of excommunication and suspension against those who may well have been announcing a prophetic word spoken in truth to power.

            This is not, however, call to anarchy in the church or anywhere else.  The current Bishop of Rome, who never ceases to criticize such things and whose personal demeanor and life-style exhibit just such evangelical humility as the “servant of the servants of God,” this pope has been accorded more authority by “the Gentiles” than perhaps in the household of faith itself.  Such is the “power” of Christ’s teaching and example when put into practice.

            So the human penchant for “power going to one’s head” and all the resultant abuses reported in the news on a regular basis, whether in the military, in correctional institutions, in centers for troubled youth, by those in political office, those who have resorted to gun violence in homes, schools and elsewhere and finally, in the church as well  -– all point to the desperate need for church and society to embrace a different approach to power and authority.  The Man of the Shroud, crowned with thorns, would surely want us to trade our own crowns, miters and helmets, along with our scepters, croziers and rifles, for the towel and basin with which Jesus washed the feet of his disciples the night before he was installed as King with thorns for a crown, a reed for a scepter and mockery for homage.

 Collect

Let us pray.

Father, who through the Blood of Jesus your Son,

the Lamb sacrificed on the cross,

redeemed us, sanctified us, and made us your people;

grant that all may accept the gift of your love,

celebrate it joyfully in the Spirit,

and drink of it in the Eucharistic chalice,

the sign of your covenant and blessing. 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (Feast of the Most Precious Blood)

Ninth Station: Collapse

Scripture:

Though harshly treated, he submitted and did not open his mouth; Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth. (Is. 53:7)

Invocation:

Eternal Father, we offer you the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  May its almighty power free us of our sins, lead our departed sisters and brothers to eternal joy and immerse your Church in love and unity.  Amen.

Meditation:

            Those accustomed to making the Stations of the Cross have always meditated on the several falls under the weight of the cross.  Too often, however, these meditations have focused almost exclusively on our individual falls and the need for perseverance in the face of personal weakness. While such thoughts have their place and value, the scope of our moral concern needs a much bigger horizon. As Pope Francis never tires of reminding us, “Our redemption has a social dimension because God, in Christ, redeems not only the individual person, but also the social relations existing between human beings” (The Joy of the Gospel, 178).

Collect

 Let us pray.

Clothe us, Lord God,
with the virtues of the Heart of your Son
and set us aflame with his love,
that, conformed to his image,
we may merit a share in eternal redemption.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart)

Tenth Station: Nakedness

Scripture:

Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. (Mk 15:24b)

Invocation:

Eternal Father, we offer you the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  May its almighty power free us of our sins, lead our departed sisters and brothers to eternal joy and immerse your Church in love and unity.  Amen.

Meditation:

            Despite the usual depictions of the Crucifixion where a loincloth remained in place out of a concern for modesty, victims were in fact stripped naked and left exposed on the cross as an added humiliation.  When the gospel accounts speak of soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ clothing, they mean all of his clothing.  The Shroud of Turin bears this out as the Body wrapped in it was naked and, presumably, rose from the dead naked as well.  John explicitly mentions that the shroud and the head covering were left in the tomb (Jn. 20:6-7). While Christian sensibilities might hesitate to reflect on this feature of the passion and resurrection, the nakedness of Christ has nevertheless profound significance. A hint of it is given in John’s account of his burial where he includes the detail that Jesus’ tomb was in a garden (Jn. 19:41) – reminiscent of the Garden of Eden.  And when Paul speaks of Christ as “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45; cf. Rom. 5:14), unaffected by original sin, we are led once again to the beginnings of the human race when nakedness provoked no embarrassment (Gen. 2:25).      

Collect

 Let us pray.

Almighty ever-living God,
who as an example of humility for the human race to follow
caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross;
graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering
and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  (Sunday of the Passion)

 Eleventh Station: Nailed

Scripture:

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left (Lk. 23:33)

Invocation:

Eternal Father, we offer you the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  May its almighty power free us of our sins, lead our departed sisters and brothers to eternal joy and immerse your Church in love and unity.  Amen.

Meditation:

            As if it were needed, further evidence of the Shroud’s authenticity arises from the manner in which it portrays how victims of crucifixion were affixed to the cross.  For example, whereas traditional representations most often show Jesus nailed to the cross through his hands, it is now known this would be impossible as the weight of the body would not permit this and hence nailing through the wrists would be necessary to support the victim.  Recent archaeological finds also suggest the nailing of the feet, contrary to traditional artistic renderings, would be done through both feet at once rather than singly. In both instances, the Shroud reveals an historical and anatomical accuracy unknown, for example, to a medieval forger.

            The most recent research sheds even further light on the torture involved in both the crucifixion itself as well as the subsequent agony of hanging on the cross along with the probable cause of the Lord’s death. An Italian team of researchers, reporting their findings in the journal Injury, has found signs the Lord suffered a double nailing of the wrists.  They conjecture that the Roman soldiers “were unable to nail Jesus’ hands into the holes that had already been specially punched into the cross to prevent the nails from bending when they were hammered into the hard wood.  Once the first wrist was nailed to the cross they failed to nail the second one using the pre-prepared hole and so the executioners had to unnail both wrists. They then apparently drove the nails in lower down between the two rows of carpal bones, on the ulnar side of the hand.”

            As for the nailing of the feet, as suggested above, the Lord’s left foot appears to have been forced over his right foot.  It is not clear, given this most recent evidence, whether both feet were fixed to the cross by a single nail driven through the insteps or whether the right foot might have been nailed to the cross twice. According to the Italian team of four experts, an “analysis of the imprint of the sole of the right foot shows two nails were driven into it: one between the second and third metatarsal and another at heel level which other academics had not spotted clearly.”

            And as for the subsequent hours of agony on the cross, the Victim would have suffered tremendous and widespread pain with even a slight movement of the limbs.  His breathing would have been seriously impaired due to the method of nailing and each attempt to draw a breath and exhale as well as to speak would have caused agonizing pain.

Collect

Let us pray.

O God, who in the Heart of your Son,

wounded by our sins,

bestow on us in mercy

the boundless treasures of your love;

grant, we pray,

that, in paying him the homage of our devotion,

we may also offer worthy reparation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

Twelfth Station: Death

Scripture:

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[e] When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Lk. 23:46)

Invocation:

Eternal Father, we offer you the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  May its almighty power free us of our sins, lead our departed sisters and brothers to eternal joy and immerse your Church in love and unity.  Amen.

Meditation:

            Last of all, the Shroud, in accord with the Gospel of John (which here as elsewhere demonstrates an historical accuracy no doubt due to its claim of having an eyewitness behind its testimony) reveals the Victim’s legs were not broken as was customary and that his right side was pierced by a lance with an accompanying effusion of blood and clear fluid.  According to the authors of the Injury article, “the serum stains, which are separate to the stains of blood that came from the chest and were probably caused by the stabbing with a spear after he had died, were formed as a result of bleeding in the lungs. This bleeding will have started before the crucifixion, after the violent fall which caused the cross to fall onto the Man’s shoulders.”

            The authors have thus put forward a theory on the Lord’s immediate cause of death that conflicts with others who have speculated, understandably, that the cause was asphyxia. These experts conjecture instead that “the fall and/or the flagellation have caused not only a pulmonary contusion but also a cardiac contusion. This, together with the serious clinical and mental condition the Man was in, may have led to a heart attack and a broken heart.”

Collect

Let us pray.

O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son
should undergo the Cross to save the human race;
grant, we pray,
that we, who have known his mystery on earth,
may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.  (Exaltation of the Holy Cross)

Thirteenth Station: Removal

Scripture:

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.  (Mt 27:57-58)

Invocation:

Eternal Father, we offer you the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  May its almighty power free us of our sins, lead our departed sisters and brothers to eternal joy and immerse your Church in love and unity.  Amen.

Meditation:

            As if the Shroud were not enough evidence of the truth of the several passion narratives, yet another relic of the Precious Blood has been preserved, namely the Sudarium (“sweat cloth”) which covered the Holy Face, and is  venerated in the Cathedral of the Savior in Oviedo, Spain.  This is the head cloth mentioned by the evangelist John (20:7). The Shroud and Sudarium have been studied by researchers and comparisons have been made. Two Jewish scientists, Danin and Baruch, have stated the two cloths are “synchronatic,” meaning both cloths were in contact with the same body given pollen spores present on both that are native to Jerusalem’s environs, and both cloths having stains of the same, rare, AB blood type.  Other anatomical features of both cloths also match exactly, e.g. the size and shapre of the nose.  Residue of myrrh and aloes used for the burial are also present (cf. Jn. 19:39-40).  A Dr. Villalaín further reports the following: “Counting both sides of the cloth, there is therefore a fourfold stain in a logical order of decreasing intensity.  From the composition of the main stains, it is evident that the man whose face the sudarium covered died in an upright position. The stains consist of one part blood and six parts fluid from a pleural oedema. This liquid collects in the lungs when a crucified person dies of asphyxiation, and if the body subsequently suffers jolting movements, can come out through the nostrils. These are in fact the main stains visible on the sudarium.  These stains in the nasal area are also superimposed on each other, with the different outlines clearly visible. This means that the first stain had already dried when the second stain was formed, and so on…. The cloth was not wrapped entirely round the head because the right cheek was almost touching the right shoulder. This suggests that the sudarium was put into place while the body was still on the cross. The second stain was made about an hour later, when the body was taken down. The third stain was made when the body was lifted from the ground about forty five minutes later. The body was lying at the foot of the cross for about forty-five minutes before being buried. The marks (not fingerprints) of the fingers that held the cloth to the nose are also visible.”  Presumably, the delay from death to deposition no doubt being due to the time taken to request the body from Pilate and to make the necessary preparations for burial.

Collect

Let us pray.

O God, whose mercies are without number and whose treasure of goodness is infinite,

graciously increase the faith of the people consecrated to you,

that all may grasp and rightly understand
by whose love they have been created,
through whose Blood they have been redeemed,

and by whose Spirit they have been reborn.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Votive Mass of the Mercy of God)

Fourteenth Station: Burial

Scripture:

Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. (Mt. 27:59-60)

Invocation:

Eternal Father, we offer you the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  May its almighty power free us of our sins, lead our departed sisters and brothers to eternal joy and immerse your Church in love and unity.  Amen.

Meditation:

            The Blood of Christ, soon to be glorified is not only efficacious in Its shedding, but also in Its circulation in the Mystical Body of Christ, that is, in us.  Its Eucharistic infusion, moreover, restores flagging spirits and renews our strength to move forward on our various spiritual paths to whatever sacrifice awaits us.

            We conclude these meditations on the Shroud of Turin, relic and icon of the Most Precious Blood, with a hope that the poignant testimony -- reserved for a scientific and technological age that requires signs, if not proof, in order to believe – left inexplicably on this cloth might persuade any who doubt what the Gospels tell us of the price of our redemption to reconsider the truth of faith and shape their lives accordingly.

Collect

Let us pray.

All-powerful and ever-living God,

your only Son went down among the dead

and rose again in glory.

In your goodness

raise up your faithful people,

buried with him in baptism,

to be one with him

in the everlasting life of heaven,

where he lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit

One God, for ever and ever.  Amen.  (Holy Saturday)

 

*All quoted material is from the Shroud of Turin website @ http://theshroudofturin.blogspot.com

and http://www.shroud.com) as well as a summary of new research on the Shroud of Turn by a team of Italian scientists whose findings appear in the medical journal Injury (cf. http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it).  As to the Sudarium, see https://www.shroud.com/guscin.htm