Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Shroud of Turin, Seminar in Italy and thoughts about the scriptures

Last Friday we had a "P morning" while in the city of Torino (Turin), Italy.  That morning we spent an hour going through the museum of the Shroud of Turin.  The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth bearing the image of a man that is believed by some Christians to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth.  The interesting thing is that there are marks and signs of a human body that have been transferred to the cloth.  Some believe that it occurred with a type of unique heat process that may have occurred at the time of the resurrection.  While the transfer of the images to the cloth cannot be explained, the identifications with Jesus of Nazareth are very interesting.  It includes blood stains at the places that are identified with his side, the wrist that would have been against the cloth and the bottom foot. It also shows lacerations on the head and the back.

There have been several conflicting scientific tests and a confusing history prior to the 1300s.  However, since a few years after that,  this cloth has been held in Turin.  It has withstood a fire and a flood and has suffered some damage.  It has been put up for public display periodically and has significant photographs with special abilities taken over the years.  The last public display was last year.  Right now it is in safekeeping in the cathedral in the city.  The museum shows many of the photographs and features a copy that is displayed.  Although there are differing views, we found it to be quite interesting.  We were impressed and had a very enjoyable tour.  If it is true or not does not change our faith in the Savior, but the concept is fascinating.  Some of the photos follow:

Elder and Sister Rueckert in the chapel where the copy of the Shroud of Turin is displayed.  The original is currently being preserved and is not available for public display at this time.  See a close up of the Shroud in the photo below:
You can see on the cloth, the imprint of a man with his arms folded in front of him and his legs brought together at the feet.  This is on the left side.  The right side shows the back side of the same man.  This impression on the cloth also includes blood spots around the feet, the wrist and the side, where the Savior would have had his side lanced.  There is also specks of blood on the forehead and on the back part of the head and shoulders.  The impression appears to have come from some type of radiation type transfer that cannot be explained.  Those who believe that this is from Jesus of Nazareth believe that this occurred when he became resurrected.  The larger light spots are where cloth was added behind the cloth to cover holes caused by the heat of a fire, so ignore the bigger spots, which are man made and pay attention to the lighter impressions.  Special cameras and negatives of the cloth show the impressions in a much more noticeable way.
Hologram created from the images on the Shroud.  This shows better what impressions are on the cloth.
As we were leaving from the airport in Germany, we had an opportunity to share our first pass along card with someone who was helping us through airport security.  He noticed our badges and started talking to us.  Having the badge on makes sharing the gospel even easier!  On our way to Italy on Thursday, we flew over the Swiss Alps.  It was quite a sight as we saw the snow covered mountain peaks poking out of the clouds.  The following are a few photos that we took out of the plane.  They show a little bit of the amazing view that we had:

The reason for our visit to Torino (Turin) was to participate in a My Path Devotional on Thursday evening.  Of course this was all in Italian, but we understand the process and were able to understand quite a bit of what was occurring.  There were almost 40 people there, including leaders and about 24 joined Self-Reliance Groups.  This was totally done by a church service missionary couple which has been called as the Stake Self-Reliance Specialists for the Alessandria, Italy Stake.  We were impressed with their commitment as they handled it from the beginning to the end.  They were also supported by other committee members, including the Stake Presidency counselor and the agent bishop.  This devotional was for three of the wards that live in Torino.  Once, the devotional was over, we checked into a local hotel.

My Path Devotional in Torino, Italy
The next morning we spent some time in the museum (see above) and then we met with a member with a small business idea for lunch and then continued onto Milan.  In Milan we worked for a few hours and checked into a hotel that night.  The travel time with our manager, Ether, is always valuable as we are able to discuss many aspects of the self-reliance work in Italy while traveling.

The main purpose of our visit was a seminar of all self-reliance specialists and chairmen of  the self-reliance committees (counselors in stake presidency) in Italy.  It started on Saturday at noon and went until Sunday afternoon.  Sister Rueckert and I each made presentations on Saturday, along with Ether and our Italy Self-Reliance missionary couple.    The spiritual thought on Saturday and all of the Sunday discussions on doctrine were made by several of the participants.  On Sunday our session began with a wonderful message from Elder De Feo, the Area Seventy for Italy, on Self-Reliance.  He shared some scriptural insights and thoughts that were new to us, but very meaningful and inspirational.  We feel that all that participated should be returning to their homes, instructed and edified.  Hopefully this is a new beginning for Self-Reliance in Italy as they now have all of their materials available in Italian and the stakes and districts were all represented.

Previous to this trip we continued in our daily routine, which includes time for exercise, scripture study and language study.  We have found this missionary routine to be very helpful and helps us to learn and grow.  During our study this week, I found several insights about the study of the scriptures.  I wanted to share a few of the quotes that touched my soul while I studied Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life and the rod of iron.   They have helped me to be more diligent in my scripture study.   I hope that they can be helpful for any others who read this:

From President Spencer W. Kimball: "I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away.  If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns".  I have heard this quote many times, I love it.  It always reminds me of the importance of "immersing" ourselves in the scriptures.

From Elder David A. Bednar:  "It is significant that the second group pressed forward with faith and commitment.  They also had the added blessing of the rod of iron, and they were clinging to it!  However, as they were confronted with persecution and adversity, they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.  Even with faith, commitment, and the word of God, this group eventually was lost - perhaps because they only periodically read or studied or searched the scriptures.  Clinging to the rod of iron suggest to me only occasional 'bursts' of study or irregular dipping rather than consistent, ongoing immersion in the word of God. In verse 30 we read about a third group of people who pressed forward 'continually holding fast to the rod of iron until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.'  The key phrase in this verse is continually holding fast to the rod of iron."

President Ezra Taft Benson: "[Lehi] saw that if people would hold fast to that rod, they could avoid the rivers of filthiness, stay away from the forbidden paths, stop from wandering in the strange roads that lead to destruction . . . [It] has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life".

May each of us be more diligent to continually hold fast to the iron rod, immersing ourselves in the scriptures, so that we can resist evil and find joy in this life!