The Seven Last Words – Meditations for the Seven Visits



The ancient tradition of the Seven Visits can take different forms, typically a series of meditations which follow Jesus’ passion from Gethsemane to Calvary.  Jesus’ seven last words on the cross can also serve as an excellent prayerful meditation for us as we visit the Seven Churches between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. These words taken from the four Gospels are extremely significant because the cross became Jesus’ pulpit where He preaches His last sermon before His Resurrection. So what Jesus said at that time and recorded by the evangelists was what He really meant us to hear. The most important thing is that both our heart and the mind are engaged in this time of prayer.

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Opening Prayer (pray it alone or with others)


This is the wood of the cross,
on which hung the Saviour of the world.
Come, let us adore.
We worship you, Lord,
we venerate your cross,
we praise your resurrection.
Through the cross you brought joy to the world.
Glory to you, Jesus our Saviour,
your cross gives us life.




FIRST VISIT - FORGIVENESS


"Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing"
(Lk 23:34a).

Meditation


Here is Jesus on the cross. Although in extreme agony, Jesus is praying. He is praying for everyone -  the Romans, the Jews, those He had healed but turned against him ... and of course for us.

But why does he ask the Father to forgive and does not speak the words of forgiveness himself? He desires that this prayer is also imitated by Christians. When others hurt us, incredibly Jesus wants us not only to forgive them but also to pray to God the Father for them. This is what in fact St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, did when he was being stoned in Jerusalem: "Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep" ( Acts 7:60).

Scripture


"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you"
(Luke 6:28-29).

Response


Lord give me the grace to forgive the particular person/s who come to mind at the moment. Like you did on cross, I too lift them up to you in sincere prayer.

Pause for silent reflection


Concluding Prayer


We worship you, Lord
through your death on the cross
you have saved us




SECOND VISIT -  REPENTANCE


"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).

Meditation


Here are two thieves crucified near Jesus. They both heard Jesus’ prayer "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." One of them is extremely impressed. He grasps that Jesus was really innocent and that he himself was even more guilty than just for stealing. Jesus was dying his death, taking his punishment, taking his blame and shame for all of his sins. He somehow sees Jesus not on a cross but on a throne, a King and a Kingdom he wants to be part of.

Not so the other thief who hurls insults at Jesus: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  (Luke 23:39). Two people, in exactly the same situation, condemned for the same crime, hearing the same prayer of Jesus but with different reactions. What made the good thief ‘good’ was not his innocence but the recognition of His need for the mercy of Jesus, the only One was is totally good.

Scripture


“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).

Response


Let us ask Jesus  for the gift of sincere repentance. We do not bring our excuses but our sins so that we can be truly forgiven. We therefore ask Him for  the truth to penetrate the deep part of our heart (Ps 51:6).  We thank Him that His mercy is so great there is never any room for despair.

Pause for silent reflection


Concluding Prayer


We worship you, Lord
through your death on the cross
you have saved us.




THIRD VISIT - INTERCESSION


"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,'  and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home" (John 19:26- 27).

Meditation


Like at the wedding in Cana, Jesus addresses His mother by using the word ’ woman’. This would have been normal between a man and a woman but not between a son and his mother. What Jesus wanted to reveal was the intimate relationship Mary and the ideal disciple, John, were to have  from now on. A new Christian family is being brought to life at the foot of the Cross. Just as the first Eve was the mother of all those who were given ‘natural life’ at creation, now the second Eve, Mary, becomes the mother of all those given ‘eternal life’.

Scripture


"They (the disciples) all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers"
(Acts 1:14)

Response


Let us lift up our lives up to Jesus again and ask Him to help us be faithful disciples who listen to and do His will. We ask that through the intercession of Our Lady we will be people of prayer, disciples who understand that it is in communion with Jesus that real transformation takes place in our lives.

Pause for silent reflection


Concluding Prayers


Hail Mary

We worship you, Lord
through your death on the cross
you have saved us.




FOURTH VISIT - HEALING


"And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”'
(Mark 15:34)

Meditation


Unlike what we may be inclined to think, this is not a prayer of despair on Jesus’ part but a prayer of deep trust. Jesus is in fact praying some verses from Psalm 22
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?  O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.  They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed"
(Psa. 22:1-5)

Jesus experienced the most tremendous, deep-rooted and universal source of human suffering which is ‘the sense of guilt.’ The One who was sinless experiences apparent abandonment by God and feels enveloped by the powers of darkness. The silence of His Father seems hard to endure but His trust in Him is unshaken.

Scripture


"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.  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"
(Is. 53:7)

Response


The Lord has taken our guilt upon Himself. But not only that. He has taken our wounds, our suffering, our hurts. He heals us and consoles us. He recycles our experience of ‘death’ and brings life and victory, bit by bit.  What are we to do? We are to trust him and to obey Him. At this moment let us surrender to the Lord whatever causes fears, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame or pain.

Pause for silent reflection


Concluding Prayer


We worship you, Lord
through your death on the cross
you have saved us.




FIFTH VISIT - THE HOLY SPIRIT


"I am thirsty"  (John 19:28)

Meditation


All the oceans, rivers and lakes are His yet our humble God asks man for a drink, He asks man to love Him. This love is a response to the love of God for us. Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection opened the way so that the Trinity themselves would come and dwell within us.

Scripture


"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified"
(John 7:38-39)

Response


Let us invite the Holy Spirt into our hearts once again. It is not a matter of feeling but of faith. We ask Him to fill us with the fruit of His Presence: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness and self control (Gal 5:22).

Pause for silent reflection


Concluding Prayer


We worship you, Lord
through your death on the cross
you have saved us.




SIXTH VISIT - TRUST


"Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.'"
(Luke 23:46)

Meditation


Once again Jesus is praying from a Psalm, a prayer of deep trust:
"In you, Yahweh, I have taken refuge, let me never be put to shame, in your saving justice deliver me, rescue me,  turn your ear to me, make haste. Be for me a rock-fastness, a fortified citadel to save me. You are my rock, my rampart; true to your name, lead me and guide me! Draw me out of the net they have spread for me, for you are my refuge; to your hands I commit my spirit, by you have I been redeemed. God of truth"
(Psa. 31:1-5)

Scripture


"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord"
(Rom. 8:31, 32,38, 39).

Response


Let us take some time to pray and intercede for our families, friends, the Church and all those we love so that God will always be our Lord, Saviour, Rock, Truth, Refuge and Strength.

Intercessory prayers


Concluding Prayer


We worship you, Lord
through your death on the cross
you have saved us.




SEVENTH VISIT - PERSEVERANCE


"When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.'
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit"
(John 19:30)

Meditation


'It is finished’. These words are like the signature at the end of Jesus’ entire ministry. He has persevered to the end. When God had created Adam and Eve and all creation He had said it ‘It is good’. But after the fall, it is only at the time of Jesus Death that He can say ‘It is finished’. Jesus ‘yes’ to the Father’s plan of salvation brought Him to the Cross. The Father’s ‘yes’ to Jesus’ obedient love is to bring Him back to glorious life. We too share in this life given to us in baptism. With His grace, we need to persevere in our journey to heaven so that we will receive what has been promised by God.

Scripture


"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised"
(Heb. 10:36)

Response


Let us ask God for the grace of perseverance so that as we carry our cross and put to death our sin and selfishness, we will remain faithful to God till the end.  When we are betrayed by our own weaknesses, let us ask the Lord for the grace to always get up again, keeping in mind the eternal perspective of our whole life and that "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us" (Rom 8:18).

Pause for silent reflection


Concluding Prayer


We worship you, Lord
through your death on the cross
you have saved us


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2 comments

  1. KIENET VERA TA GHAJNUNA HAFNA BIEX TIDHOL B MOD INTIMU MA ALLA F DAWN L ISCRIPTURE GOD BLESS YOU

    Reply

  2. Beautifully written and effective, this was a really useful resource to have when we tried to make our “seven visits” (there are only two Catholic churches where I live).

    Reply

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