By Lenora Grimaud

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Luke 23:34

Jesus, Scripture tells us that as a young boy you grew “in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man” through obedience to Mary and Joseph. Is it possible, Lord, that through your “passion” you grew even more, in mercy and love? You were always quick to show mercy and compassion to sinners, breakers of the Law; to prostitutes and thieves; to the poor and the weak; to those who were defenseless; to prisoners; to those who were sick; to those who mourned; to the persecuted; to the homeless; to those who appeared to be nothing at all. To the woman caught in adultery, you said, “Does no one condemn you? Then, neither do I.” Your anger seemed to go out only to the rich, the powerful, the persecutors, the Pharisees, the self-righteous; those who could not forgive, who couldn’t be merciful; those who were spiritually blind. But, from the cross, your mercy extended to them as well. Lord, did you also experience, through suffering, our frailty and vulnerability to “knowing not what we do,” because of original sin? Were you suddenly filled with compassion for those who have been hardened by life and became blind because of their human condition; those who persecuted and crucified you? Did you regret your zeal and anger when you drove out the money changers from the Temple? Did you regret having been pushed to pronounce the curses upon those who break the Law? For it seems that from the cross, you extended your mercy to all those who struck out at you, from Adam to the end of time…. “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

What a marvelous gift you give to us, Lord—your divine mercy; not only forgiving us, but giving us the power and authority to extend mercy to all those who have hurt us. What peace to know that I can freely give up my right to condemn those who have been unjust to me, or hurt me in any way, and instead, forgive them, knowing that their sin against me is washed away as though it never happened. Would that everyone in the history of man could forgive their enemies. Their mercy would bring down mercy upon them. For, if we can show mercy, we can love, and if we can love, we can live with you in your kingdom.

Lord, grant me the grace to always forgive my enemies. Never let me forget how great your mercy has been to me. It is easy, Lord, to love those who love me—help me, also, to love those who hate me, and with you, win their souls for heaven. For when we are able to forgive others, especially our enemies, we are the ones who change. We become mercy and begin to love as you love. When our enemies are forgiven, they too, may learn to forgive. As we change, we can change the world.

Lord, in this first act of mercy upon the cross, you forgave all your enemies. Through Adam’s sin, judgment came down upon all humanity. Through your act of love, mercy and vindication came down upon all humanity, setting us free from the wages of original sin.

“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:43

Oh Jesus, you offered mercy to everyone, in the past, present, and future, but, how many of us will be willing or able to receive it? How many of us will have the faith to believe that you have the power to forgive us, that you are the Son of God, and that your forgiveness can make a difference in our lives? How many of us can accept forgiveness from one another, let alone from God? We continue on, blindly clinging to our sins, and calling them justice. When we can no longer hide from the truth, we pass judgment on ourselves and condemn ourselves to misery and pain, refusing to be comforted. Heaven isn’t even an option for us. Our eyes are fixed on the choice between denial (blindness) or retribution (death). But, for those who have ears to hear, you say, “All those who believe in their heart and profess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord will be saved.” Nothing more is necessary in order to enter into Paradise with you. The choice need not be between denial and hell, but between denial and Heaven. Denial keeps us wandering aimlessly, in the dark, without peace or joy. We don’t want to see, because we do not have faith and fear judgment. Give us faith, Lord.

You gave us an example of your mercy—the thief on the cross next to you. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain by putting his faith in you. He was no longer in denial; no longer blind to his sin. He acknowledged his sin without making excuses or justifying his behavior. He knew he deserved death; punishment; judgment. He knew he couldn’t escape death, but after witnessing your innocence, your love and mercy, your response to the injustice done to you, he recognized that you were more than a man, and he received hope. What did he have to lose? The worst that could happen was that you could say no to his request. But, you said, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” What amazing grace! He didn’t even have to go to purgatory, because he had the faith to ask; to call upon you in the presence of many.

In this second act of mercy, Lord, you not only forgive and deliver us from judgment, but you give us eternal life in Paradise, with you. Lord, help me not only to forgive my enemies, but to embrace and befriend them when they ask for my friendship. Help me to be truly reconciled with them, and to love them as myself. Increase my confidence in your love for me and your desire to have me with you always. Cleanse me of all my sins, and remember them no more. Create in me a clean heart, a pure heart, so that I can have the confidence to run into your arms—now, and at the hour of my death.

“Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son’.
Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother’.”
John 19:26-27

Oh Jesus, you promised you would not abandon us, would not leave us orphans, but that you would give us an Advocate to be with us always. Even from the cross you kept your promise. Not only did you send your Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but before your death you gave us your own mother, Mary, to be our Advocate; to intercede for us; to remind us of all that you were, did, and said; to be our mother, too. She was your Ambassador; your Vicar; the Queen Mother who would take your place. In Royal Families, when the King dies, the Queen Mother takes his place. Neither did you abandon your mother, but gave her your disciples to be her son, her spiritual children, in your place.

This third act of mercy upon the Cross was your greatest act of mercy. You gave us not only the mercy of the Father, and of the Son of Man, but also the mercy of a mother—the “Woman,”—your mother. How can we ever thank you for your mercy and love! Such generosity is beyond comprehension.

Lord, grant that I may never forget how much you love me. May I always be grateful for your gifts and for your mother. May I always be a faithful daughter and love your mother as you do. Mary, intercede for me and be a model of Woman, Mother, Daughter, Sister, and Spouse for me. May I walk in your footsteps and in the footsteps of your son, all the days of my life.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Mat. 27:46; Mark 15:34

Oh Jesus, in the midst of your suffering, you found consolation in the Psalms, reflecting on the suffering of man. You felt and understood the sense of abandonment from God that Job and the Prophets experienced in the time of their great ordeal. Truly, you never abandon us, but even so, they experienced that “dark night of the soul,” of losing the awareness of the presence of God. Along with them, you too, had to wait upon God for vindication. The friends of Job became his accusers, saying, “If you are truly innocent, then call upon the Lord and he will deliver you.” Your accusers said to you, “Then save yourself! If you are God’s son, come down from the cross!” (Mat. 27:40)

Jesus, before your incarnation, in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you chose to give your life for the sake of man. This was why you came. As Scripture says, “Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Upon the cross, in a body of a man of flesh and blood, you experienced the reality of God’s love for the world. For our sake, the Father has abandoned his only begotten Son, and given him over to death, so that we might know how great his love is for the world. You became the forsaken one, for this last hour, but it would end in victory and resurrection. You experienced being abandoned by the Father and left to go through with your death, alone; no longer able to experience the awareness of the presence of God. You felt the total absence of the Father.

Lord, this was not your last word from the cross. You never despaired. Though you experienced the absence of the presence of God, you knew that God was with you, in you, and you were in him. Oh, Lord, help me to accept the times when I feel forsaken and abandoned by you and others. Let me hold fast to the knowledge that you are always with me and will never leave me, even when I don’t feel your presence. Help me to embrace the Cross in my life, and ultimately, death. Help me to follow you, Lord, and not look back.

“I Thirst!”
John 19:18

Oh Jesus, you thirsted not only physically, but you thirsted for the presence of God. You longed to return to your glory and union with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Though you never were, or could, be separated from them, still you experienced a separation from the awareness of their presence. You experienced the aridity and dryness that comes with the “dark night of the soul.” Your body thirsted, but your soul thirsted even more. You refused the drink that was offered, not wanting to be drugged. You did not want to miss the consolation of God. You wanted that spiritual water that refreshes the soul. You thirsted for living water, for divine union.

I thirst, Lord! I hunger for union with you. Yet, there is nothing I can do to obtain what I thirst for. All good, all delight and consolation comes from you, my Lord. Even this thirst, comes from you. Without your grace I would refuse the cross, refuse suffering and loss, and refuse to die. Instead, I would run eagerly after all the pleasures and consolations the world has to offer. I would turn my back on you, Lord, and run after illusions and vanity, as I have in the past. I would close the door on my soul and have no desire to do your will, to love you and praise you, to exalt you and want to serve you; no desire for union with you, to die to myself; no desire to see your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Without your grace, I can have no knowledge of you, no desire for good, and no desire to love. All that I have that is good within my soul comes from you and is pure gift. The good within my soul seeks and thirsts for its maker.

Oh Jesus, you asked your disciples, “Can you drink the cup that I must drink?” This was the cup, Lord, which you thirsted for; to fulfill the New Covenant of love by the pouring out of your blood. You longed to complete the work that was given you. I reach out, and then pull away, as I realize what is in that cup, as you did with the drink of wine and myrrh that was offered you. A part of me would prefer that cup—the cup that you refused. Oh Lord, let me thirst for the cup that you drank from, and not shrink back. Only with your grace can I reach out and take this cup.

You thirsted for our love, Lord, and for us to let you love us. Oh Jesus, I thirst for you, for your love, and to love you in return. Lord, increase my thirst for you, for union with you. Let me thirst only for living water. Take away my desire and thirst for inordinate loves and comforts so that I will only thirst for you. Through your grace, this thirst, preceded by an emptying of myself through my sense of abandonment, (The Fourth Word) will cause me to be ever more open to God, to receive the living water that will enable me to let go of the past (The Sixth Word) and enter into union with God (The Seventh Word).

“It is finished!”
John 19:30

Oh Jesus, like a champion who has just won the race, you declare “It is finished!” You completed the work that you were sent to do, the will of the Father. There was nothing left for you to do. All of Scripture was fulfilled. “It is finished!”—this was your Victory Cry—all was accomplished. You became the holocaust—the sin offering—the Lamb of God.

With you, Jesus, help me to say, “It is finished!” Let me offer up my past way of life as a holocaust, even though it is full of blemishes. I want to die to sin and selfishness, Lord, and to do only the will of the Father. Most of all, I want to be finished with all my infidelities to you. To all the false gods I put before you, I say, “It is finished!” To all the attachments that stand in the way of divine love and union with you, I say, “It is finished!” I want to close the door on the past, Lord, so that I can be free to enter into the new life you have prepared for me.

“No need to recall the past,
No need to think about what was done before.
See, I am doing a new deed,
Even now it comes to light; can you not see it?
Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness,
Paths in the wilds.”
Isa. 43:18-19

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Luke 23:46

Now, Lord, you are free to surrender totally to death, to conquer death through your resurrection, and to return to the glory you shared with the Father from the beginning. You died for our sins so that, in you, you could consecrate us, me, the Church, to God as your beloved bride, and make her holy and without blemish, through your precious blood.

Into your hands I commend my spirit, Lord. I consecrate my whole self, body and soul, to you Lord; to cleave unto you; to love you in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in good times and bad, for all eternity. Dress and adorn me, Lord, with the bridal garments you have prepared for me so that I may glorify you as you have glorified the Father. I shall leave my father and mother, and cling only to you, and we shall become one body. (Mat. 19:5).

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