Yesterday from Fr. Paul’s Blog, The Shroud of Turin and Why Physicality Matters:
Recently a member of our congregation went to visit the Shroud of Turin at its ‘ten year showing’. Everyone knows now that it is a production of mediaeval times, but still, lots of people have gone to see it. There are of course many views about the shroud. Those who want to support its religious significance will talk about the questions that are still unanswered, like ‘How was it done?’ and ‘How old is it really? Can we trust the carbon dating?’ So long as there are questions to be raised, the mystery of the shroud can be kept alive. Then of course others of a more pragmatic mindset say ‘Well, it’s just a piece of cloth, so what? Even if it is Jesus’ shroud. So what?’
Pope Francis says that the image on the shroud ‘speaks to the heart’. And of course this is one legitimate way to approach the image. It is like the Grünewald Isenheim Altarpiece, where a very disfigured Jesus on the Cross reflects the suffering of those looking at the image.’ It says to them ‘God shares in what is most shameful and painful for you, and can transform it.’ Both images say something to our condition.
The age of the shroud of Turin and the image on it does not prove the resurrection, neither does an empty tomb. What proves the resurrection is the continual physical presence of Christ in the Church. This happens, as St. Paul tells us ‘according to the Spirit’, but it happens in our bodies. It happens as the sovereignly free God promises to localise himself ‘for-us’ and to be present ‘for-us’ that we might have union with God. That’s why I can rejoice in icons, rejoice in the shroud rejoice in relics and rejoice in the sacraments. Let Charles Wesley have the last word.
Unsearchable the love
That hath the Saviour brought;
The grace is far above
Or man or angels thought;
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.