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Veneration


The Catholic approach to the Shroud has always been that the image should be "venerated" as an example of Christ's suffering. As a Protestant, I had a difficult time with this concept. But I now find it to have validity as a spiritual exercise. The Protestant fear of the Shroud or any other Catholic or Orthodox icon is that the image would be worshipped like an idol instead of God. This is essentially unfounded. In over 20 years of studying the Shroud, I have never met anyone who worshipped it like some pagan god.

There are many cult groups that seem to be able to worship anything from crystals to goddesses to animals to tarot cards. I suppose that same troubled psychology can find its expression within the church and be manifested through image worship. The Reformation condemned such extremes found within the Catholic Church that were often expressed through excessive focus on Mary or certain Saints. The Catholic Church now acknowledges those excesses. The most common error among my Catholic and Orthodox brethren today is that some may use icons as good luck charms. This is obviously wrong and is not the meaning of veneration.

I discovered the meaning of veneration, at least from my Protestant mind set, when I viewed The Shroud in Turin in 1998. Even as one having studied and lectured on the subject for years, my initial reaction was…"Is this Memorex or is it real?" At first I scrutinized the cloth and the markings. I gazed at the burns and the water stains. I studied the image to compare it with all the photographs I had seen so many times before. I had my scientific hat on and I didn't like it. Why wasn't I feeling anything? I must have been expecting the audible voice of God to say, "This is the image of my beloved son..." It didn't happen.

I didn't know how to venerate. After standing in line for an hour and passing before the cloth to get my allotted two minutes to view it, I went back inside the cathedral and sat down in the back and viewed it from afar. Why wasn't I feeling anything? It was only as I recalled from my memory verses of scripture that it began to move me. "Know ye not that you were bought with a price". "I am the resurrection and the life". "He was wounded for our iniquities and by His stripes we are healed". Verse after verse flooded my mind and spirit and then I understood the meaning of veneration. The Shroud and the icons that are based on it, simply represent these wonderful spiritual truths. They allow the scripture to come alive visually. In a sense, the Shroud is like scripture in a picture.

So as you think about the Shroud and its meaning, allow yourself to recall the scriptures. Your experience will be greatly enhanced. Below I have selected key scriptures by theme that I have found to be quite helpful in my attempts to venerate this most wonderful image known as the Shroud of Turin. Further down the page I have synthesized the account of Christ's passion from the Gospels of Mathew and John.

It is not the image that matters but the message it conveys. The Shroud makes visible the central truths of Christianity. We don't worship an image but the living Christ whose image the Shroud may bear. The cloth is dead but His words are "living and active". The true art of veneration is going beyond the visible to the invisible. God wants us to "worship Him in spirit and in truth". The image bears witness to the truths of scripture. The Shroud is a lot like John the Baptist whose mission was to point the way to the messiah.


Verses For Contemplating the Shroud

The Sacrifice

1 PET 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

2 COR 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 CO 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; [20] you were bought at a price.

Prophecy

ZEC 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. ISA 53:5

The Resurrection

JN 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; [26] and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

REV 1:18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Resurrection Energy?

MT 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. [2] There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

Our Own Resurrection

1 COR 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- [52] in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

The Image of God

COL 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

HEB 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Looking at Jesus

JN 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. [36] But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. [40] For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

JN 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. [45] When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. [46] I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

Does God Use Evidence?

JN 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

AC 1:3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.

1 CO 9:22b I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

The Reason For It All

JN 20:30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. [31] But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


The Passion

MT 26:67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him [68] and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" MT 27:22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"

MT 27:26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged (scourged), and handed him over to be crucified. MT 27:27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. [28] They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, [29] and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. [30] They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. [31] After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him.

JN 19:16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. [17] Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). [18] Here they crucified him, and with him two others--one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

MT 27:34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. [35] When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. [36] And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. [37] Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

MT 27:50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. MT 27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. MT 27:54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

JN 19:31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. [32] The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. [33] But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. [34] Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. [35] The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. [36] These things happened so that the scripture (prophecy) would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken," [37] and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."

MT 27:57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. [58] Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. [59] Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, [60] 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 27:65 "Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how." [66] So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

MT 28:1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. MT 28:2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. [3] His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. [4] The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. MT 28:5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. [6] He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.