See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Pope and the Shroud


"Day pours out the word to day; and night to night imparts knowledge..." - Psalm 19
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The Holy Father's encounter with the holy Shroud was obviously very moving for him - I read that he prayed before it as if in a trance.
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"God’s concealment is part of the spirituality of contemporary man."
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Dear brothers and sisters, in our time, especially after having passed through the last century, humanity has become especially sensitive to the mystery of Holy Saturday. God’s concealment is part of the spirituality of contemporary man, in an existential manner, almost unconscious, as an emptiness that continues to expand in the heart. At the end of the 18th century, Nietzsche wrote: “God is dead! And we have killed him!” This celebrated expression, if we consider it carefully, is taken almost word for word from the Christian tradition, we often repeat it in the Via Crucis, perhaps not fully realizing what we are saying. After the two World Wars, the concentration camps, the gulags, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our epoch has become in ever great measure a Holy Saturday: the darkness of this day questions all those who ask about life, it questions us believers in a special way. We too have something to do with this darkness.
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And nevertheless, the death of the Son of God, of Jesus of Nazareth, has an opposite aspect, totally positive; it is a font of consolation and hope. And this makes me think that the sacred Shroud acts as a “photographic” document, with a “positive” and a “negative.” And in effect, this is exactly how it is: The most obscure mystery of faith is at the same time the most luminous sign of a hope without limits. Holy Saturday is the “no man’s land” between death and resurrection, but into this “no man’s land” has entered the One, the Only One, who has crossed it with the signs of his passion for man: “Passio Christi. Passio hominis.” And the Shroud speaks to us precisely of that moment; it witnesses precisely to the unique and unrepeatable interval in the history of humanity and the universe, in which God, in Jesus Christ, shared not only our dying, but also our remaining in death. The most radical solidarity. In that “time-beyond-time” Jesus Christ “descended into hell” (“agli inferi”) What does this expression mean? It means that God, made man, went to the point of entering into the extreme and absolute solitude of man, where no ray of love enters, where there is total abandonment without any word of comfort: “hell” (“gli inferi”). Jesus Christ, remaining in death, has gone beyond the gates of this ultimate solitude to lead us too to go beyond it with him.
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We have all at times felt a frightening sensation of abandonment, and that which makes us most afraid of death is precisely this [abandonment]; just as when as children we were afraid to be alone in the dark and only the presence of a person who loves us could reassure us. So, it is exactly this that happened in Holy Saturday: In the kingdom of death there resounded the voice of God. The unthinkable happened: that Love penetrated “into hell” (“negli inferi”): that in the most extreme darkness of the most absolute human solitude we can hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes us and leads us out. The human being lives by the fact that he is loved and can love; and if love even has penetrated into the realm of death, then life has also arrived there. In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone: “Passio Christi. Passio hominis.”
."No pit is so deep that his love is not deeper still." - Betsy Ten-Boom
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Links:
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Pope's Remarks After Venerating Shroud of Turin - Zenit

8 comments:

  1. I am inclined to believe that the Shroud is authentic. But even if it isn't the cloth which actually wrapped Jesus' body after His death; it still speaks eloquently of the suffering which he endured, and the love which caused him to suffer and die for us. The study of the Shroud has been the occasion of much edification for believers, and even those inclined not to believe. I'm not sure if in the end the authenticity really matters as much as the thought that the shroud inspires.

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  2. Maria7:03 PM

    "No pit is so deep that his love is not deeper still"

    Having been to dark, dark places, to finally emerge into His light, I understand the incontrovertible truth of this statement...

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  3. I watched His Holiness on the internet when he venerated the Shroud...
    so moving.
    And his talk was absolutely stupendous.
    Lord, let your Face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. Amen!

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  4. He is speaking the "mystery of Holy Saturday" which Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr have been "crucified" for in Traddy circles...
    But Pope Benedict reflects in many of his talks and reflections these themes and the content of this Mystery (thanks to von Balthasar and Von Speyr)...
    He is a true theologian, mystic and shepherd; no one can "confine" him in any particular modality.
    He is of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Only Him.
    Only Him.
    Thanks. Terry, once again (am I getting sickening, thanking you?)
    Hope not...my daily meditations are often based upon the "food" you provide for us. Blessings.

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  5. I thought of von Balthasar and Speyer immediately - in fact I was going to post a couple of quotes from them but their writing is so dense it is difficult to pull a short anything to compliment the post. I'm happy the Holy Father delved into this mystery since not a few contemporary theologians seem to sugar coat the idea of Christ's descent into hell - "Well, it wasn't really hel..." You know?

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  6. I do, Terry.
    There was a book published in the last several years that took von Balthasar and von Speyr to task...claiming they were heretical.
    I have tried to read, understand and be able to make refutations against what this "theologian" )who got her degree from the Angelicum in Rome, no less) claims.
    I asked an expert theologian about this and he basically told me, "She doesn't GET IT!".
    Sometimes having a very keen intellect can keep you from the mysteries of God; I'll leave it at that.
    A Dominican priest (a teacher of mine, who I respect very much) also told me that v.Balthasar and v.Speyr were heretics...whatever.
    Our Holy Father evidently doesn't think so.
    That's enough for me!

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  7. A few years ago I brought some questions I had regarding Holy Saturday to a priest and during our conversation both von Balthasar and v. Speyr came up. I was not acquainted with them, but did have a small unread book by v. Speyr sitting on my bookshelf.

    In addition, this priest mentioned a professor whose lecture he either wanted to attend or missed while studying in Rome—I can't remember— whose lecture topic was on the writings of von Balthasar.

    Ironically, several months later I noted this professor wrote a new book touching on my question and also on von Balthasar, so I ordered two copies, one for the priest and one for myself. I have yet to read it, but he told me that during one of his vacations with fellow brothers, the book set off quite the discussion during their vacation.

    Just thought I would share the title: Light in Darkness by Alyssa Lyra Pitstick.

    First Things magazine had a few articles of debate during the time of its release. They could be googled for information around the controversy with v.Speyr and von Balthasar.

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  8. Barrie Schwortz who was one of the original research photographers on the Shroud has one of the most extensive website contain'g research material. One can buy the recordings of the Texas Shroud conference held a couple years back when the latest research papers were presented. They are quite fascinating to hear.

    http://www.shroud.com/

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