Tuesday, March 27, 2012

“The Sign of the Cross Is Inscribed upon the Whole Cosmos”

So do we read in Former Pope Benedict XVI’s The Spirit of the Liturgy (2000 Ignatius Press). And we thank The Adoremus Bulletin (February 2012), sent from St. Louis Missouri, for providing this excerpt.

The Fathers belonging to the Greek cultural world were more directly affected by another discovery. In the writings of Plato, they found the remarkable idea of a cross inscribed upon the cosmos (cf Timaeus 34ab and 36bc). Plato took this from the Pythagorean tradition, which in its turn had a connection with the traditions of the ancient East.

First, there is an astronomical statement about the two great movements of the stars with which ancient astronomy was familiar: the ecliptic (the great circle in the heavens along which the sun appears to run its course) and the orbit of the earth. These two intersect and form together the Greek letter Chi, which is written in the form of a cross (like an X).

The sign of the cross is inscribed upon the whole cosmos. Plato, again following more ancient traditions, connected this with the image of the deity: the Demiurge (the fashioner of the world) "stretched out" the world soul "throughout the whole universe".

Saint Justin Martyr (d. ca. 165), the Palestinian-born first philosopher among the Fathers, came across this Platonic text and did not hesitate to link it with the doctrine of the triune God and His action in salvation history in the person of Jesus Christ. He sees the idea of the Demiurge and the world soul as premonitions of the mystery of the Father and the Son - premonitions that are in need of correction and yet also capable of correction. What Plato says about the world soul seems to him to refer to the coming of the Logos, the Son of God. And so he can now say that the shape of the cross is the greatest symbol of the lordship of the Logos, without which nothing in creation holds together (cf I Apo1. 55).

The Cross of Golgotha is foreshadowed in the structure of the universe itself. The instrument of torment on which the Lord died is written into the structure of the universe. The cosmos speaks to us of the Cross, and the Cross solves for us the enigma of the cosmos. It is the real key to all reality. History and cosmos belong together. When we open our eyes, we can read the message of Christ in the language of the universe, and conversely, Christ grants us understanding of the message of creation.

From Justin onward, this "prophecy of the Cross" in Plato, together with the connection of cosmos and history that it reveals, was one of the fundamental ideas in patristic theology. It must have been an overwhelming discovery for the Fathers to find that the philosopher who summed up and interpreted the most ancient traditions had spoken of the cross as a seal imprinted on the universe.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (d. ca. 200), the real founder of systematic theology in its Catholic form, says in his work of apologetics, the Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, that the Crucified One is "the very Word of Almighty God, who penetrates our universe by an invisible presence. And for this reason He embraces the whole world, its breadth and length, its height and depth, for through the Word of God all things are guided into order. And the Son of God is crucified in them, since, in the form of the Cross, He is imprinted upon all things" (I, 3).

This text of the great Father of the Church conceals a biblical quotation that is of great importance for the biblical theology of the Cross. The epistle to the Ephesians exhorts us to be rooted and grounded in love, so that, together with all the saints, we "may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" (3:18f).

There can be little doubt that this epistle emanating from the school of Saint Paul is referring to the cosmic Cross and thereby taking up traditions about the cross-shaped tree of the world that holds everything together-- a religious idea that was also well known in India.

Saint Augustine has a wonderful interpretation of this important passage from Saint Paul. He sees it as representing the dimensions of human life and as referring to the form of the crucified Christ, whose arms embrace the world and whose path reaches down into the abyss of the underworld and up to the very height of God Himself (cf De doctrina christiana 2,41, 62; Corpus Christianorum 32,75f).

[End of quotes]

The Eastern Orthodox Church has traditionally understood the tree of life in Genesis as a prefiguration of the Cross, which humanity could not partake of until after the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.[4]


One of the hymns chanted during the forefeast of the nativity of Christ says:

“Make ready, O Bethlehem, for Eden hath been opened for all. Prepare, O Ephratha, for the tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin; for her womb did appear as a spiritual paradise in which is planted the divine Plant, whereof eating we shall live and not die as did Adam. Christ shall be born, raising the image that fell of old”.[5]

The cross of Christ is also referred to as the tree of life, and in the service books, Jesus is sometimes likened to a "divine cluster" of grapes hanging on the "Tree of the Cross" from which all partake in Holy Communion.

This theme is also found in Western Christianity. By way of an archetypal example consider Bonaventure's "biography" of the second person of the Trinity, entitled "The Tree of Life." [see Cousins, The Classics of Western Spirituality Series] ….


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Holy Shroud of Jesus Christ

A Shroud Of Mystery!

An amazingly detailed picture of a bearded man who had been beaten about the body, crowned with thorns & pierced with nails through the wrists & the feet," is how Newsweek magazine described the Shroud of Turin. For centuries, this unique burial cloth has generated intense controversy. Many scholars, historians, scientists and theologians have been convinced that it is the cloth in which Jesus Christ was wrapped after his crucifixion, and that by some unknown process his image was transferred onto it.

In 1889, something extraordinary happened. Technical progress had made it possible for the first photograph of the the Shroud to be taken. As the photographer, Secundo Pia, examined his first glass-plate negative, he almost dropped it in shocked excitement. What he saw was not an unrealistic and confusing photographic negative, but a clear positive image. Highlights and shadows were reversed from those on the cloth, & were far more lifelike & realistic, & the positive image of a man's face was clearly visible. Pia's sensational photograph showed that the actual image on the Shroud was a negative image!

How could a negative image be produced on a piece of cloth centuries before the invention of photography? Scores of specialists from all over the world began to earnestly study the mysterious Shroud. Attempts made by skilled painters showed that no artist was able, even when using a model, to convert a human face by the process of the mind into a negative image, & paint it. Leo Vala, a noted photographic expert who pioneered the development of 3-D-photography, recently told Amateur Photographic magazine,

"I can tell you that NO ONE could have faked that image. NO ONE could do it today, even with all the technology we have."

The educational magazine, National Geographic, reports that the face on the Shroud, hauntingly serene in death, would grace a masterpiece of art. The body, anatomically correct, bears the frightful marks of scourging, crucifixion, & piercing--perhaps by thorns & lance. It would appear to be a portrait, uncannily accurate when matched against the Gospel accounts, of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, many believe that this stretch of ivory-coloured linen is the very cloth that Joseph of Arimathea placed under and over the body of Jesus in the rock-cut tomb of Golgotha nearly 2.000 years ago. (See Mark 15:46).

In 1978, the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) came into being. Scores of the World's top scientists, pathologists, textile experts, chemists, physicists & photographic specialists obtained permission to spend five days thoroughly examining the mysterious cloth in Turin, Italy.

National Geographic reported, "Perhaps never before had an object of art or archeology been subjected to such exhaustive examination. The scientists bombarded the relic with ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and examined it microscopically & took photo micrographs. With sticky tape & a vacuum device, bits of dust, pollen & other particles were captured for analysis." Their conclusions were startling.

"I was convinced it was a forgery"

confesses Dr, John Heller of Yale medical school, the blood expert of the team. Today he admits,

"NO QUESTION IN MY MIND! There was a scourged, crucified man in the Shroud."

STURP team member, Dr. Robert Bucklin, chief pathologist of the Los Angeles city morgue, states:

"If I were asked in a court of law to stake my professional reputation on the validity of the shroud of Turin, I would answer very positively & firmly that it is the burialcloth of Christ. It's Jesus Whose figure appears on the Shroud. It is not a matter of faith to me, it's just a matter of common sense. Knowing what we know, who else could this have happened to?"

One of the World's top investigative dentists, Dr. Max Frei of the University of Zurich, a specialist in tracing where a fabric has been, through microscopic pollen analysis, declares:

"My tests have convinced me that this Shroud is IN FACT the cloth in which CHRIST'S BODY was wrapped. I have isolated from the Shroud more than a dozen pollen grains from plants that grow only around Jerusalem & its deserts."

The STURP scientists concluded that the image on the Shroud could not be the work of a painter or artist, for it is too thin, & lies only on the very topmost surface of the threads, nor has it soaked into or left any deposits between the threads as would happen had it been painted. The scientists also agreed that the dark stains that permeated the image were human blood. But the question that haunts them & that has eluded their grasp is, what then could have created this mysterious image?

The general consensus is that the molecular composition of the image is similar to faint scorch of some kind, yet the scientists cannot determine by what means such a delicate image could have been made. It is now being suggested that an unknown energy force was applied to the lifeless body wrapped within the Shroud, & that a burst of extremely high intensity heat or light for an extremely short duration--probably milliseconds--somehow caused the Shroud to become a primitive polaroid film. Robert Dinager of the Los Alamos scientific laboratory in New Mexico stated,

"It seems as if the image possibly came from some short-term pulse of energy. You could say it was instantaneous. It would have had to be a pretty good amount of energy, but not too much or it would have destroyed the cloth."

For those who believe the Bible, the answer to this riddle is apparent: At the climactic moment that Jesus dead body was quickened to life, this "photograph" was left behind on His burial cloth as a silent witness of the greatest miracle that ever took place: The resurrection of Christ!


National Enquirer 20/11/79

The image of a coin placed over the right eye on the figure on the burial cloth actually shows the coin was minted near the time of Christ's death, according to Rev. Francis L. Filas, S.M., a top expert on the Shroud. With the assistance of coin expert Michael Marx, Father Filas has identified the image of a coin imprinted on the shroud as a coin minted only between A.D. 29 and 36. Christ died in A.D. 30. Placing coins on the eyes of the dead was an ancient burial custom in Christ's time, according to Father Filas, professor of theology at Loyola University of Chicago.

Using high quality, high contrast photos of the shroud, Father Filas and Michael Marx deciphered that the coin clearly features a tiny staff, called a "lituus," bordered by four Greek letters. That staff and the Greek letters were found only, on coins minted during Pontius Pilate's governorship of Judea, from A.D. 29 until A.D: 36.

"All coin experts agree that Pontius Pilate alone issued a coin with the staff on the back of it." Said FATHER Filas.

Marx, a coin expert for more than 35 years and owner of M. and R. Coins and Stamps in Oak Lawn, Ill. Concurs with the theologian.

"As a coin expert, I can confirm that the coin that appears on the cloth is one of the coins issued only during the last seven years that Pontias Pilate was governor of Judea--A.D. 29 to 36," he said.

"The markings on the coin date the shroud within that seven years period. The shroud is obviously real."

And Dr. Nancy Waggoner, curator of Greek coins at the American Numismatic Society, confirmed that the coins with the lituus on one side fall within the time of Pontius Pilate's governorship.

DNA Tests Find Jesus' Blood On Turin Shroud

Electronic Telegraph

The Turin Shroud will be at the center of fresh controversy when a scientist details his claims to have isolated DNA from the "blood of Jesus." In his book, The DNA of God?, DR Leoncio Garza-Valdes, a former professor of microbiology, describes tests carried out by colleagues at the University of Texas which show that the "red" areas on the cloth, far from being paint, are ancient blood stains of a group consistent with a Jewish male. The book details the experiments which show that the "blood" on the shroud is ancient and contains XY chromosomes--which establishes it as human and male. The tests were conducted by a team headed by Dr Victor Tryon, director of the Center for Advanced DNA Technology at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Gene segments from the stains showed that the blood came from a male with an AB blood type, common among Jewish people. Dr Garza-Valdes, a practicing Catholic, said that the placing of the blood traces strongly indicated that the body was that of Jesus.

"Not many people in the first century suffered all those lesions, the crucifixion wounds, the crown of thorns, the spear wound in the right side of the chest, the flagellations," he said.

A list of definitive results from research carried out this century:

The image is not a painting, and it was left by the corpse of a man who was beaten and crucified. Computer processing has shown that the image has three-dimensional properties, something which neither paintings nor standard photographs possess.

Pollens have been found on the cloth, strongly supporting the view that the Shroud spent time not only in Europe but also in the Near East.

Tests on traces of blood from the Shroud have revealed the presence of human blood from blood group AB.

In 1988, carbon-14 dating was carried out on a fragment of the Shroud. The results date the fabric to between 1260 and 1390 AD

The scientific community itself now questions these results, and more recent experimental studies have reopened the debate.

Characteristics of the Shroud image include:

"CLEAR IMAGE. The body image is so well resolved that even features as detailed as the lips are discernible. This remarkable property revealed by photography is way beyond all attempts at artistic imitation or laboratory reconstitution.

SUPERFICIAL IMAGE. The body image penetrates the cloth no more than a few fibrils and is limited to the crowns of the threads. The body image fibrils are individually colored but their coloring does not follow the bends or crevices connected with the intersecting threads of the weave. Furthermore, the fibrils are not cemented and there is no additional pigment to account for the macroscopic image color.

THREE DIMENSIONAL IMAGE. The intensity of the frontal body image correlates overall with expected separation distances between an assumed body and the enveloping cloth. This correlation is independent of implied body surface composition such as the skin, hair, etc.

ABSENCE OF SIDE IMAGES. There are no side images to be seen surrounding the front and back body images, not even in the region the two heads.

OXIDATION. The chemical formation of the body image is due to a change in the cellulose of the cloth, in particular a conjugated carbonyl structure associated with dehydration.

BLOOD. The red image stains are formed of blood and/or blood derivatives.

VERTICAL ALIGNMENT OF THE IMAGE. The Shroud is draped naturally over a body lying horizontally, but the frontal body image aligns vertically over corresponding features on that body.

WEIGHTLESSNESS. Maximum intensities of the front and back images are practically equal."

- Bruno Bonnet-Eymard, "Physics and Chemistry of A Glorious Body and of A Glorious Blood"

"The arms would be too long if the Shroud Man would be flatly reclining. The arms, however are entirely parallel with the surface of the Shroud and we see them in linear full length. The torso, the thighs, the lower legs on the other hand we see shortened by geometric perspective and not in full length. They stand at an angle to the surface. "

- Isabel Piczek, "Is the Shroud of Turin a Painting?"

Height calculations of the figure on the Shroud vary greatly due to the difficulty of taking into account factors such as the foreshortening of the legs, the extended position of the feet, and any possible stretching in the cloth. The most common estimate is 6 ft 11 in. Proportionately, however, the head on the Shroud is 1/9 of the body instead of the average 1/8. Using this as a basis for estimation of height, Picknett and Prince concluded:

"Our calculations put the height of the man on the Shroud - at the front - at 203cm...Put in imperial measurements we calculate that the front image is 6 ft 8 in and the back 6 ft 10 in"

- Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled (1994)

If Jesus was treated according to Jewish burial practices, "signs of the bandages around the hands, feed and head ought to appear on the Turin Shroud.

"They do not. If the shroud had been tied down there would be clear crease marks, which there are not. It did not fall closely over the sides of the body, and this agrees with the temporary nature of Joseph's and Nicodemus' attentions, for they expected the final burial to be made after the Passover. Then the body would have been more securely wrapped."

- Alan Millard, Discoveries From the Time of Jesus

© Site Copyright 2000 Beyond the Stars Productions

Taken from: http://users.belgacom.net/gc674645/shroud/shroud1.htm

Great Lighthouse CD on Shroud of Turin

The Passion of Christ In Light of the Holy Shroud of Turin

Fr. Francis Peffley

The Holy Shroud of Turin was called the greatest relic in Christendom by Pope John Paul II. In fact, the Shroud is the most studied scientific object in the entire world. Fr. Peffley presents new and detailed scientific and medical evidence for the authenticity of the Holy Shroud. This presentation brings greater clarity as to the depth of the agony of our Lord's sorrowful Passion, which he voluntarily took on for love of us.

And, at: http://friendsforjesus.com/viewtopic.php?t=4545&sid=b467c60a38e1aa310724c04eb783dd6a

The talk is given by a Priest who has studied a lot of the scientific research and findings of the Shroud.

The cloth is long and is the size of those commonly used at that time for covering a table...also they could tell because of the fine-ness of the linen, which is much nicer than the things usually used to bury people in at that time.

Also, along one side of it there are some kind of markings, oil stains, etc. left behind from people having eaten on this cloth. It was common at that time that the people being served would sit on just one side of the table and they would be served from the front. Something in Jewish practice made it such that food was not to be passed behind people, only in front of them. The stains are possibly from people dipping bread in oil, etc. just like today.

It is a beautiful talk, get this CD if you can! It is called

The Passion Of Christ in Light of the Holy Shroud of Turin.

By Fr. Francis Peffley

Lighthouse Catholic Media.


For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.