Devotion of The Seven Last Words of Christ – The First Word – 26 March – Monday of Holy Week 2018
The Seven Last Words of Christ
The Seven Last Words of Christ refer, not to individual words but to the final seven phrases that Our Lord uttered as He hung on the Cross. These phrases were not recorded in a single Gospel but are taken from the combined accounts of the four Gospels. Greatly revered, these last words of Jesus have been the subject of many books, sermons and musical settings.
For centuries The Seven Last Words have been built into various forms of devotion for the consideration and consolation of the Christian people. English Catholics of the late Middle Ages were especially devoted to this pious exercise and passed it on in latter-day prayer books.
Hear the famous English mystic, Julian of Norwich (1342-1430) :
Suddenly it came into my mind that I ought to wish for the second wound, that our Lord, of His gift and of His grace, would fill my body full with recollection and feeling of His blessed Passion, as I had prayed before, for I wished that His pains might be my pains, with compassion which would lead to longing for God. . . . And at this suddenly I saw the red blood trickling down from under the crown, all hot, flowing freely and copiously, a living stream, just as it seemed to me that it was at the time when the crown of thorns was thrust down upon His blessed head. . . . With this sight of His blessed Passion and with His divinity, I saw that this was strength enough for me, yesand for all living creatures who will be protected from all the devils from hell and from all spiritual enemies.
Holy Week, especially Good Friday, is an ideal time to make use of this devotion for personal prayer: to silently and prayerfully contemplate Jesus’s passion and death, to be united to Him in His suffering and to dwell on the strength and mercy of His love.
The following meditations are from on the writings of St Josemaria Escrivá (1902-1975)
The First Word
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34)
Gospel: When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”] They divided his garments by casting lots…Lk 23:33-34
Reflection: “Christ’s generous self-sacrifice is a challenge to sin. We find it hard to accept the reality of sin, although its existence is undeniable. Sin is the mysterium iniquitatis: the mystery of evil, the inexplicable evil of the creature whose pride leads him to rise up against God. The story is as old as mankind. It began with the fall of our first parents; then came the unending depravities which punctuate the behaviour of mankind down the ages; and, finally, our own personal rebellions. It is very difficult to realise just how perverse sin is and to understand what our faith tells us. We should remember that even in the human context the scale of an offence is frequently determined by the importance of the injured party — his social standing, his qualities. But with sin man offends God, the creature repudiates his creator.
“But ‘God is love.’ The abyss of malice which sin opens wide has been bridged by His infinite charity. God did not abandon men. His plans foresaw that the sacrifices of the old law would be insufficient to repair our faults and re-establish the unity which had been lost. A man who was God would have to offer Himself up. To help us grasp in some measure this unfathomable mystery, we might imagine the Blessed Trinity taking counsel together in its uninterrupted intimate relationship of infinite love. As a result of its eternal decision, the only-begotten Son of God the Father takes on our human condition and bears the burden of our wretchedness and sorrows, to end up sewn with nails to a piece of wood.”…St Josemaria Escriva – Christ is Passing By, no. 95
Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Providence
My Lord and my God:
into Your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future,
what is small and what is great,
what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot,
things temporal and things eternal.
Amen. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.