News
Crucifixion depicted with the Virgin Mary (Porto Alegre, Brazil, 19th century, artist unknown)
“If there is an overarching theme in my own reflections, it is the way that Jesus’ sufferings help him to understand us." ~Fr. James Martin, SJ
On Good Friday, Reflections on Jesus’ Seven Last Words

April 14, 2017 — As Jesus hung on the cross, he uttered seven last phrases of great meaning to those contemplating his passion and death. Today, on Good Friday, we remember his Seven Last Words, which have been widely used in Good Friday homilies.

The tradition was begun in the 17th century by a Jesuit priest in Peru. He developed a service of meditations for Good Friday based on the last words of Jesus, and the devotion spread around the world. Jesus’ last words, as recorded in the Gospels, became part of the Church's Lenten tradition.

The Seven Last Words are traditionally part of a Good Friday service and often include some element of music, prayer, or reflection. Most churches choose seven different speakers. At St. Ignatius Church in New York City, Good Friday’s Seven Last Words devotion will include a variety of perspectives. The Jesuit church has invited a Presbyterian pastor, a hospital chaplain, and a Jesuit rector, among others, to reflect on the words Jesus spoke from the cross.

In 2015, Fr. Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, reflected on the Seven Last Words in his Good Friday homily at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, DC. “When we suffer the most ... we can cry out, and God will save us,” Fr. Kesicki said of Jesus’ last words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 

“Jesus is on the cross; his nerves, his body, his blood, his anguish is ours. And in the midst of this excruciating pain he makes the ultimate confession: there is a God and God will hear me. How many times have we allowed ourselves to bear the depth of our soul to God?"

Father Kesicki recalled meeting a recent widower on his way out of church. The man told Fr. Kesicki that he was “angry at the big guy.” Father Kesicki pointed to the doors of the church and said, “The walls inside those doors are built for screaming. God wants all of you, so let God know how you feel. How else will he know the depths of your love?”

 
(Image via www.marionfumc.org)

Father James Martin, SJ, bestselling author and editor at large of America magazine, also preached a homily on the Seven Last Words on Good Friday 2015. The homily, delivered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, became the basis for Fr. Martin’s book, Seven Last Words.

In the book’s introduction, Fr. Martin said, “If there is an overarching theme in my own reflections, it is the way that Jesus’ sufferings help him to understand us. … The person to whom we pray, the man we hope to follow, the one who is risen from the dead, understands us — because he lived a human life and one that, particularly in his final week, was filled with suffering.”

Father Martin hopes Jesus’ words on the cross invite us to a deeper friendship with the Savior. And he wants people to remember that “Good Friday was a single day in Jesus’ life. In other words, Jesus’ life was not all suffering and pain.”

That theme is echoed too by Fr. Kesicki, who sees the triumph of the human spirit even in the face of death in Jesus’ last words. “As long as there is a single man, woman or child on earth with the grace to be changed by this self-emptying love, he or she can take up the cross and follow him."

Jesus’ deepest yearning, said Fr. Kesicki, was “to complete what he had been born to do. More than anything else in life, he wanted to die for us, out of pure unconditional love for us.”

Click on the links below to listen to each part of Fr. Kesicki’s reflections from his 2015 Good Friday homily or find them all on iTunes.

The Seven Last Words

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  
“Today you will be with me in Paradise.” 
“Woman, this is your son” . . . “This is your mother.”  
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  
“I thirst.” 
“It is finished.” 
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

[Sources: Loyola PressU.S. CatholicThe Word Among Us]

Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www.jesuitvocations.org for more information.





Recent News

May 16, 2017 — Luke Hansen did not even know what a Jesuit was until a game of darts in college, when he met a priest who encouraged him to apply to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Years later, Luke is preparing for ordination as a Jesuit priest after accompanying former Guantánamo Bay prisoners in Bermuda and serving all over the country.

May 11, 2017 — Irish Jesuit Fr. John Sullivan, remembered for his healing prayers, will be beatified on May 13 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Dublin.

May 11, 2017 — Fr. William Blazek, SJ, has been named national director of The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, succeeding Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, who served for 14 years.

May 3, 2017 — Students at the Jesuit school near Chicago went through a refugee camp simulation and met former refugees during this year's Solidarity Week.

May 3, 2017 — Pope Francis gave a surprise recorded TED Talk presented on April 25 at the TED2017 conference, the first time a pope has ever given a TED Talk.

May 1, 2017 — Today, on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the Catholic Church is also celebrating the first-ever Religious Brothers Day.

April 19, 2017 — Above all else, Jesuits in the United States are known for their schools. But what holds those schools together is a distinctive spirituality named after the Society of Jesus' founder.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Jesuits Spring 2017

Jesuits Fall-Winter 2016

Jesuits Summer 2016



Jesuit Spiritual Center
The Jesuit Spiritual Center at Milford spreads over 37 park-like acres overlooking the Little Miami River, 30 minutes east of Cincinnati.