Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Shroud of Turin, represented at every Mass

The negative of a photograph of the Shroud of Turin

Then cometh Simon Peter … and went into the sepulcher, and saw the linen cloths lying, And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. (John 20: 6-7)
The Shroud of Turin is traditionally believed to be the pure linen burial cloth which was wrapped around the Corpse of our Savior and which was found in the empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday. The image of our Lord miraculously imprinted upon the Shroud is a visible indication and (to some degree) “proof” of the Resurrection.
Thus, it is fitting that, during the Easter season, the Christian faithful consider the Shroud, meditating upon the joy and amazement of the first disciples who found the tomb empty.
Many of the faithful may not realize that the Church provides a tangible reminder of the Shroud at every Mass through the use of the corporal.

What is a corporal?
The corporal is the white linen cloth which is placed upon the altar in preparation for the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass. This white cloth is generally square-shaped and about seventeen inches wide (though size does vary).
The corporal is usually unfolded upon the altar either by an altar server or by the deacon, during the offertory (or preparation of the altar) after the intercessions. The cloth is then carefully re-folded and taken from the altar after the distribution of Holy Communion when all the remaining Hosts have been placed in the tabernacle.
Much more could be said about the historical development of the use of the corporal (and also of the pall, since the two were once only one large cloth), but such detail does not touch upon our current topic.
A corporal is used to wrap a dead body
When we ask why it is that this linen cloth is called the “corporal”, we come to understand what the mystical signification of the object is. The word “corporal” comes from the Latin word corpus (corporis) meaning “body”.
Now, we should be able to recognize the similarity between “corporal” and “corpse”. A corporal is the cloth which is used to wrap a corpse. But why would we call the white cloth used at Mass a “corporal”?
The corporal is so-called because, in the ancient tradition of the Church, the Sacred Host (even after consecration) was laid directly upon the cloth. Since the Mass is a sacrifice and makes present the death of Christ, the white cloth upon which the Host rested is called a “corporal” or “burial cloth”.
[Likewise, the white cloth which is placed over the chalice is called a “pall”, in reference to the funeral pall which is placed over the casket.]
The corporal as a symbol of the Shroud
Now, it should be obvious that the corporal used at Mass is a symbol of the Shroud of Turin. It is the mystical representation of the white linen burial cloths in which Jesus’ dead Body was wrapped and which were left in the tomb after his Resurrection.
This is why the corporal ought to be made of linen – because Christ was wrapped in linen. This is also why the corporal should be white – because the Shroud was white. (cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologica III, q.83, a.3, ad 7 [here])
So, when you see the altar boys preparing the altar and laying out the corporal, think of the Cross and Golgotha.
As the Host, having been elevated after the consecration, is laid upon the corporal, think of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (together with the Mother of God, Mary Magdalene, and the other women) preparing the Christ’s Body for burial. As the Sacred Chalice is lowered to the altar, think of the tomb being readied and Christ being laid therein.
And, later on in the Mass, when you notice the servers folding up the corporal and taking it away from the altar, think of the devout Magdalene as well as Peter and John, who first saw the linen cloths lying in the empty tomb. Recall that Christ your Lord has risen from the dead, and has left us the Holy Shroud as a visible testimony to his Resurrection.
Here is a little verse attributed to Hildebert (1194):

Ara crucis, tumulique calix, lapidisque patena,
Sindonis officium candida byssus habet.

The altar is the Cross, the chalice the tomb, and the paten the stone,
The white linen cloth [i.e. the corporal] takes the place of the shroud.
Reverence for the particles of the Eucharist
And, finally, we must note that there is a practical reason for the use of a corporal: It is there so that no particle of the Sacred Host should accidentally fall and be lost.
This is why priests are very careful in handling the Eucharist, and the faithful ought to be careful in receiving our Lord in Holy Communion. Indeed, the current practice of reception upon the hand is quite dangerous, since particles of the Host can easily adhere to the palm or fall to the ground.  
The practice of some (perhaps well-intentioned) priests by which they wipe their fingers upon the corporal after touching the Host – presumably, to brush off any particles upon the corporal – is detestable. Such particles would then remain ground into the corporal after the celebration of the Mass, which is sacrilege. Most regrettably, this abuse is even taught in at least one prominent American seminary and is quite wide-spread throughout the United States and Europe.
In any case, the practice is directly contrary to the explicit rubrics of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 278):
“Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially after the fraction or the Communion of the faithful, the priest is to wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them. Likewise, he should also gather any fragments that may have fallen outside the paten.”


Joaco said...

Dear Father,

Every month I attend a recollection evening during which the Priest gives a meditation, then there's a talk, examination of conscience and finally Benediction (with the Blessed Sacrament).

Sometimes I am asked to help with the Benediction. When we finish, I usually help father with some things, among them re-folding the corporal and putting it in its cloth and in the drawer.

After reading this post, and specifically : "The corporal is usually unfolded upon the altar either by an altar server or by the deacon", I'm thinking whether I'm doing something that's not my job? Am I?



Frank Gibbons said...

The Shroud of Turin is a single garment that ran the length of the entire body. If there was a separate cloth wrapped around our Lord's head, wouldn't the image of His face be on that rather than on the body-long garment? I have always found it difficult to reconcile John 20:6-7 with the claims of the Shroud of Turin.


Frank Gibbons

Thomas22 said...

I am not sure what the answer may be to your question but interestingly enough there is another cloth which matches the shroud in many ways known as the Sudarium of Oviedo. It actually has the same blood type as well and they say that it covered the head of Christ at one point.
I don't know a lot about it but that might be a possible answer


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@Frank and Thomas,
Yes, there is something to think about there.
Thomas, you are correct to point out the Sudarium of Oviedo -- this was the head covering.
Then there is also the Veil of Veronica (which is kept at the Vatican).

Together with the Shroud, these are the three most popular images of the Holy Face.

I see no reason why the Shroud couldn't have covered the Face of Jesus ... especially if the sudarium was placed on the Face first and then the shroud wrapped around that. +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

I don't think that there is anything wrong with what you are doing ... it is not in the context of the Mass ... so, if the priest has asked you to help with benediction, you can probably feel pretty safe in assisting.
Just be sure to remember that what you touch is sacred ... and I am sure that you do so with great reverence.

Peace! +

joaco said...

I do father, but reminders always come in handy, thanks!


James Joseph said...

I thought the Corporal was the nine-folded head-cloth left quite deliberately in the corner of the tomb, and the Altar-linen was intended to be the Shroud.

I am also under the impression that the maniple is the same arm-cloth hidden in the sleeve by say Coptic priests and them placed over the Body and Blood, and pulled off, is representative of the Sudarium or the Manoppello... not too sure which is which.

(or something... I dunno just made this observations myself over the years.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all of you! The information on the corporal was informative even though I have had the blessing of being Catholic since I was a week of age. I also think Fr. Erlenbush's closing "Peace! +" is beautiful and plan to adopt it.

Bobby Bambino said...

Hi Father.

Thank you so much for this article. Fascinating. Two quick questions if you have a moment. I notice that after the consecration, my priest rubs his fingers over the chalice so that any particles from the host fall into the precious blood. Does this seem like an acceptable practice?

Also, I have often wondered about the best way to distribute many hosts to all those who are distributing Holy Communion. I have seen extraordinary ministers of Holy communion simply grab a handful of hosts, which is clearly irreverent (at best). My priest lowers the angle of the "plate" (I'm sorry, I don't know what it is called) and uses his thumb to tap the "plate" so that gravity allows the hosts to fall from one "plate" into another. Would this be proper as well? Thank you Father, God love you.

Davor Aslanovski said...

@ Frank Gibbons:

The Sudarium of Oviedo was, as far as science can tell, on His head BEFORE His body was placed in the Shroud, about one hour after death, and while He was still in vertical position - so that it probably covered His face during deposition.
It was taken off before the body was shrouded, and it is not one of the Holy Faces, as there never was any image on it, although the stains seem to correspond to those on the Turin Shroud.

admiral dewy wilkins said...

A possible way to reconcile the Shroud with the the Sudarium is that the image on the shroud is actually a physical record of the great energy produced by the the Resurrection. If this is the case, I believe our Lord would want us to see the image of the whole body being resurrected. This might explain why only blood remains on the Sudarium.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

The Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Jesus and grateful thanks ought be extended to The Catholic Counter Reformation of the XXTH Century which caught out, unmasked, and revealed, to men of good will, that Dr Michael Tite substituted clippings from the Cope of Saint Louis for those samples cut from the cloth.

The Abbe de Nantes team proved that the atomic weight of the samples taken from The Shroud weighed a different amount than did the samples submitted to the labs for testing - the samples from the Cope of Saint Louis which Dr Tite took possession of before testing the Shroud.

That is, the "science" of Dr Michael Tite was a flat out fraud but Holy Mother Church has surrendered to its worldly power and it refused to defend this most magnificent Holy Relic.

Having successfully sued for divorce from Sacred Theology, Science has been whoring around with materialists and producing bastard children that modern man worships.

The Shroud is real and the image was produced when Jesus resurrected at midnight in a sudden spectacular burst of light that caused Hell to scream with rage.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

I hadn't read the study of The Shroud in years and I was just going on memery but for those interested, the link still exists online that takes you to their study of the fraud


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