Messe du Père Laval
St John Vianney, North Springvale
The Shroud of Turin
The Mauritian community as a whole and in particular the Victorian Mauritian Pastoral Council are to be congratulated. It is no simple matter to mount an international exhibition of an exact copy of the Shroud of Turin, to produce a book, to organize sponsors, to train guides. This exhibition is a contribution to the celebration of the Great Jubilee in Melbourne as a whole. It will strengthen the faith of all who see it, sensitizing people to the vivid reality of the Lord’s passion and resurrection.
The Shroud is silent; it speaks to the eye. We look at this figure, so majestic, so calm, seemingly asleep, interiorly alive. Just as music is heard only by those who are musical, and beauty is seen only by those who have a sense of beauty, so too we can see the face Jesus on the Shroud because already he has been revealed to us from within. We recognize the sublime dignity portrayed on the Shroud because we already know him on the greater Shroud of our own spirit. The Holy Spirit has placed in our spirit the image of Christ. The teaching of the Church has placed in our hearts the person of Jesus who was dead and is how risen. We are already the Body of Christ and so we recognize the Body of Christ. We see what we have become. The Shroud is a mirror held up to our face.
Ours is a visual generation and we need to see. The image on the Shroud, therefore, is immensely valuable. We see and we are drawn to what we see. The marks of the scourge show where the jailer stood and how tall he was. The flows of blood reveal the movements of the Crucified. The mark of the lance is so clear that we know at what stage the solder pierced his side.
We see and we become what we see. We contemplate him and we identify with him. We become more still, more interior; the calm of his face gives us balance. We are purified by this sight and encouraged to put ourselves at the service of others. The signs of Jesus’ martyrdom encourage us to be strong in our witness. By seeing the body, we who are already the Body become more fully the Body.
The sight of the body bruised and pierced is troubling. Many hesitate, for it touches them too close and calls on them insistently. Let us be shocked and moved, troubled and drawn to compassion. Let us be sensitized by this sight so that we will become sensitive to all who suffer and become unable to cause pain.
Then we will be the Body of Christ. Then we can proceed to the celebration of Corpus Christi which is today’s feast. If we have become the body of Christ, we will be able to contemplate the Shroud of Turin and see the Face. If we are his Body we will know that the bread we take becomes his body; if we are his flesh and blood we will know the wine we give is in fact his blood. We give what we are; we are what we give. The Shroud is an image but we are the reality. We contemplate the effects of the body on the cloth, but we give the Body to each other. We are the Body of Christ and we give the Body to each other and so ‘we become one body one spirit in Christ’.
We chose the time of the exhibition precisely to coincide with today’s Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord.
Phillippe Hennequin, President of the VMPC, will speak on this matter later.
Note: This authentic copy of the Shroud of Turin, brought from Mauritius, is now preserved by the Polish Community in Melbourne.