(Full disclosure: The author of this book is my friend.)
Yesterday, while in the middle of reading Jeff Blake’s new book “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross,” I had to stop and write to tell him how powerful it is. This short book is HANDS DOWN the best book I’ve read on the message of Jesus. At less than 40 pages the message is distilled to perfection, cutting through any filler or unnecessary repetition while also offering brief personal experiences by Mr. Blake that never take the reader off course.
My belief or faith is far, far away from rock solid. Like reading a passage from Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton the words in these pages feel like an anchor of truth. How so? While reading I felt the “how it isness” wash over me. I felt carried and at peace. I also became aware of wanting to flee to distraction in the other direction to avoid letting it all sink in. Am I the only one who does this? Stoping mid-chapter to write an email is a pretty good indicator I am misdirecting myself. (“Stop reading! Do something else! Tell the world!” You gotta love the ego. No really, you have to or it won’t leave you alone.)
I can’t say enough good things about “The Seven Last Words of Christ: Meditations on the Cross”, by Jeff Blake, so I won’t try. It’s awesome. Pick it up for Lent and read it. Read it more than once. You’ll be very happy you did.
“I will leave to theologians, philosophers, and sages of the ages to define the meaning of the Cross. For me, at least, I choose to simply kneel at the foot of the Cross and contemplate such great love for the whole of humankind. Here a man illustrates what it means to die for us, not because we are bad, but because at the heart of it, we are good and are being shown a way to live a life of surrender.”
“Only one thing is harassing you: your own idea of achieving things as quickly as possible. But meditation is not to be achieved; it is already there. It has only to be discovered. And discovery needs only one thing: a silent watcher.”
“What is my conception of a personal Higher Power? Describe it here. I feel that when I meditate I connect to a creative and loving energy that is present in all life. They say all the energy that has ever been is still here now and will always be here. That means there is a totality and I am part of it. When I have an opinion on suffering, it is only that, an opinion. I do not and cannot understand the full context of events that occur in an infinite and eternal universe. It’s as if within my finite lifetime I glimpse a second of a three-hour movie and try to understand the entire plot. All I must do is engage with this idea: I will become open to the idea that my conceptions, beliefs and experiences are limited. I will become open to new beliefs and new possibilities. I will become open to the idea that I can live a better, more loving and useful life, even if I don’t fully understand how I will do it or what it will be like.”
“If we love one another truly, our love will be graced with a clear-sighted prudence which sees and respects the designs of God upon each separate soul. Our love for one another must be rooted in a deep devotion to Divine Providence, a devotion that abandons our own limited plans into the hands of God and seeks only to enter into the invisible work that builds His Kingdom. Only a love that senses the designs of Providence can unite itself perfectly to God’s providential action upon souls. Faithful submission to God’s secret working in the world will fill our love with piety, that is to say with supernatural awe and respect. This respect, this piety, gives our love the character of worship, without which our charity can never be quite complete. For love must not only seek the truth in the lives of those around us; it must find it there. But when we find the truth that shapes our lives we have found more than an idea. We have found a Person. We have come upon the actions of One Who is still hidden, but Whose work proclaims Him holy and worthy to be adored. And in Him we also find ourselves.”