The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross

CD INCLUDED THE SEVEN LASTWORDS OF CHRIST ONTHE CROSS Meditations by Cardinal Charles Journet Music by Franz Joseph Haydn ® - Edited by Romain Lizé -

- Edited by Romain Lizé - Meditations by Cardinal Charles Journet Music by Franz Joseph Haydn Paris • New York • Oxford • Madrid Foreword by Fabrice Hadjadj Magnificat® THE SEVEN LASTWORDS OF CHRIST ONTHE CROSS

WE'RE NOT AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, but sitting in an armchair. We're not listening to the groans of the tortured, but to music. We're not looking at people disfigured by suffering, but at artworks in which the painters unveil their skills. From the outset, it's fitting to ask ourselves about this disjuncture in which such terrible horror transforms itself into the quiet joy called “Christian devotion.” Where are we, then, and what are we doing here? Are we not perhaps in the process of gentrifying the Gospel? Of reducing the cry of the Eternal One to some pious distraction? Kierkegaard, to name but one, never ceased warning of this danger. In an attempt to avert it, he formulated a severe condemnation of “Christian art”: “It's inconceivable to me how an assassin can sit and calmly sharpen the knife with which he will kill another man. But what I really cannot conceive of is how an artist can calmly sit down and wield his brush to paint the Crucified One....” Consequently, such an artist can be called a Judas handing Jesus over to the high priests like a good catch. The artist clearly doesn't seek to create accusers of Christ; he seeks to create “admirers.” But admirers are not imitators. So, Kierkegaard concludes, to admire without imitating is worse than to blaspheme, because that amounts to believing oneself a Christian when one is not. In my revolutionary youth, I found the radicalism of this Danish philosopher exhilarating. Today, beneath its apparent force, I perceive its weakness. On the one hand, Kierkegaard too was sitting in an armchair as he wrote, not hanging from a gibbet. His condemnation, were it valid, would then extend to all thought, to all theology, ending in a faith without works, since every work presupposes free, unnailed hands. On the other hand, this radicalism—these roots—only sink into the darkness of the earth in order to bear fruit in the light of day. 1, 3, 7 LAST WORDS, UNTIL OUR OWN 6

The cross of Jesus is the Tree of Life. It is there for our bliss, not for sorrow. The lightness of a Mozart or a Haydn, that lightness that suddenly rises up from D minor which we may rightly call grace, is not a flight from but the fruit of the cross. It chimes with an anticipation of heaven where we will eternally sing of the mercies of the Lord (Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo). Of course, reading the Bible the way you would read a newspaper is not reading it at all. If it is the Word of God, that is, the word of my Creator, Savior, and Lord, I cannot approach it as if I were attending a show or following the news. It speaks to me, it pierces me like a sword, especially when I reach its ultimate, most wrenching point: the Passion of the Word made flesh. I read it only to the extent that I read it within my soul. I read it only to the extent that I let it test me. As I listen to the Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross, I can spend a pleasant, moving hour, but one which leaves me fundamentally untouched, like a moral add-on to my physical comfort. I'm sitting in an armchair, listening to music, looking at art. But the truth, more mystical and concrete, is that I am at the foot of the cross. The groans of the tortured, the many people today disfigured by suffering and sin, are at my doorstep! I may not recognize it, but as much as I may admire and feel myself a Christian, I am like those passers-by who derided him, wagging their heads (Mk 15:29). In this sense, Kierkegaard got it right. The words of the Lord aren't looking for our admiration or our understanding, but for our confession and our conversion. We are protagonists in this story: He gave himself for our sins (Gal 1:4). We have no choice but to identify ourselves with one of the characters in this scene: either the bad or the good thief (as in Luke). Or the scribes who mock: Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him! Or perhaps one of the men who, with the centurion, confesses: Truly this was the Son of God! (as in Matthew and Mark). Or one of the soldiers gambling for his vestments, his tunic. Or the disciple who welcomed Mary into his home (as in John). 7

Such are these seven words solemnly spoken at the moment of asphyxiation—not like a sermon from the pulpit but emanating from his pierced flesh. And tradition—inspired by the association to this perfect number seven—interprets each one of these words as a gift of the Holy Spirit, or a Beatitude—or why not as well as a day of Creation, or a sacrament? And yet, we do not find the same number of words in any single Gospel. According to Matthew and Mark, there was only one word, transcribed in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” followed by nothing but a great cry. According to Luke, there were three: Forgive them...; Today you will be with me in paradise; and Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. According to John as well, there were three, but completely different ones: Behold your mother...; I thirst; and It is finished. And according to you? These seven last words are the product of a collection and a composition born of the piety of the faithful. They manifest not the constraint, but the inventiveness of faith. They teach us how to read between the lines, to see that the apparent divergences between the four Gospels function as a kind of window through which we can all hear the call destined for each one of us and fulfill our lives as a continuation of the Gospel. To read it properly means to close the book, to feel its misery in the light of mercifulness, and to be merciful in turn: to look the poor in the face, to love our neighbor, meaning, that is, that relative, that colleague, that bum, just those people I was hoping to escape when I opened these pages full of beautiful images and lovely music. A while ago, Romain Lizé asked me to write a short work on these seven last words of Christ on the cross. I shrank from the task. I didn't feel up to it, especially as there was already the wonderful text by Charles Journet. 8

No disciple can surpass his master (I must remind you, I am in a very real way, through the circumstances of my conversion and the many intermediaries who accompanied it, a spiritual son of Abbot Journet; it's even because of him that I today live and teach in Fribourg, Switzerland, where he lived and taught). My text, wherever it may flicker brightest, has only been kindled in his shadow. His book is one of the few works to have left an indelible mark on me. I'm honored to be able to present a few excerpts from it here. I know nothing better than his simplicity and his profundity—that of a lively theologian who walked in the truth overwhelmed with love. Commenting on his own writings, Journet said that the most important thing was “to enter into this mystery in silent contemplation,” and, he added, “anything you may write about it to make him loved, outside of these seven divine words, you'll afterwards want to burn.” One thing is certain: these writings which, in his humility, their author wished to burn, are just what produces in us moments of illumination to keep us watchful in the depths of the night. Fabrice Hadjadj 9

WHILE CHRIST’S LAST WORDS are dispersed throughout the Gospels, the Church’s tradition allows us to approach them gathered as a whole, thus offering a more vivid, more immediate way of experiencing the Passion of Christ. It is as though we were reading a kind of primitive Gospel containing everything; as though—ultimately—we were at the foot of the cross. Here are the last words of Jesus the man, the son of Man, the Son of God, who offered up his life. Death by crucifixion is death by suffocation. The human body cannot long breathe in such a position. For Christ—already tested by the blows that had battered his muscles, the flagellation that had lashed his skin raw, the cross that had wounded his shoulders, the crown of thorns that had lacerated his forehead, and the nails that had pierced his flesh—to speak would have required a monumental, a monstrous effort to pull himself up, gasping for enough air to even emit a sound. Hanging crucified for hours, he had only the strength to utter these seven little words, and one great cry. How scandalous for the Word of God! To help us enter into the mystery we are given to contemplate, this book unfolds each word, page by page, against the background provided by Haydn’s music and splendid art. First of all, of course, the word itself and the Gospel that records it. Then follows Cardinal Journet’s meditation, a true gem of Christian spirituality, full of power and beauty. After each meditation, you will find a long passage from the New Testament which places the word into the perspective of the life of Christ or the manner in which the Passion and Death of the Savior was experienced and understood by the first Christian communities. Finally, the prayer of a Psalm recalls the messianic longing of Israel and of the whole of creation. The work of salvation, foretold from the moment of the Fall (Gn 3:15), prefigured throughout the whole history of mankind, long-awaited by Israel, is fulfilled before our eyes. The new and eternal covenant culminates here. By turns prophetically heralding Christ’s Passion PREFACE 11

and anticipating his last words, these psalms help us conclude our contemplation with the words Jesus himself prayed. No doubt this meditation—notably through the music and the works of art (I think here particularly of the Christ by Grünewald, to which Cardinal Journet attached great importance)—will involve a certain violence that takes us out of our comfort zone. But is it possible to meditate on the Passion without some interior pain, however little? That is a very small thing compared to the object of our contemplation. Right from the first bars of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Our Savior on the Cross, it is impossible not to be swept up in the drama being played out, a drama of cosmic proportions which the universal force of the music powerfully underscores. Here’s what happened to me in Rome one September 14, the day the Church commemorates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. At the invitation of Peter Bahou, a Catholic Palestinian friend of mine from the United States, who runs the well-known pilgrimage tour company Peter’s Way, I listened to the violins of the Vienna Philharmonic make this music resonate under the vaults of Saint-Paul-Outsidethe-Walls. This book came to me fully formed over the course of this prayerful time. I wanted to see this music accompanied by magnificent works of art, by biblical texts, and by a meditation that would carry me even further. That’s the spiritual experience proposed here. I wish you well on your spiritual journey. Romain Lizé 12

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK This book proposes a meditation taking about one hour all together. Each chapter is designed in such a way that you can read as you listen to the music. If the musical track ends before you’ve finished the corresponding chapter, we suggest you complete the reading in silence, echoing the great moments of silence that marked Christ’s agony. You might also choose to listen to themusic before or after reading the text, closing your eyes in order to meditate on each chapter at the pace that suits you: either first, after having read the word in question and the Gospel text recounting it, to enter into the mystery of each word; or, afterward, to allow each chapter to resonate within you and sustain your prayer. Of course, you can read and reread the proposed texts, contemplate the works of art, and listen to Haydn’s music as you wish. But the continuous reading suggested here will, as in all prayer (as long as you allow it time to unfold), carry you along a path leading to the foot of Golgotha in a way we are no doubt too little used to traveling it. 13

WHEN HE COMPOSED THE SEVEN LAST WORDS OF OUR SAVIOR ON THE CROSS, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) was at the height of his career. Commissioned in 1786 by the canons of the Cathedral of Cádiz, these sonatas were destined to accompany the periods of inner silence that punctuate meditation on the seven last words of Christ, read by the local bishop during Holy Week. As Haydn himself described it to his publisher, “The walls, windows, and pillars of the church were draped in black; one lone large lamp suspended in the center broke this sacred obscurity. At noon, all the doors were closed and the music then began. After an appropriate prelude, the bishop would go up to the pulpit, pronounce one of the seven words, and reflect upon it. He would then descend from the pulpit and bow low before the altar. This interval was filled with music.” This tradition of long meditation on the last words of Christ, though not a liturgical office as such, is still celebrated to this day in many cathedrals, in Spain and the United States for example, at noon on Good Friday, before the office of the Passion takes place around three o’clock in the afternoon. Following the success of the orchestral version performed in Cádiz, which assured the work's renown throughout Europe, the next year, with the declared intention of making this meditation available to all, Haydn produced the score for string quartet from which the setting for string orchestra, featured here, is drawn. He next produced an adaptation for piano (whose repertoire, with the recent invention of the fortepiano, was in full expansion), and then, finally, a score for choir and orchestra. INTRODUCTION TO THE MUSIC BY FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN 14

This interpretation of the orchestral version, under the baton of Paul Kuentz, is one of the most spiritual and profound. One can detect the influence of Father Jean-Pierre Nortel († 2015), chaplain to performing artists of Paris, who help Paul Kuentz prepare for his recording. Haydn’s profound musical sensitivities are here beautifully deployed. The role accorded to the emotions is characteristic of Viennese classicism, then emerging with Haydn and Mozart, followed by Beethoven (whose enormous oeuvre would serve as the turning point between classicism and romanticism). Classicism differentiated itself from the baroque through a more subtle and refined sense of melody. As Mozart himself said of Haydn, “Who better than he knows how to move in such a way from tears to laughter, from joy to profound upheaval?” Right from the opening in D minor, Haydn manages to wordlessly accompany each listener in contemplation of the events of Calvary. Through movements alternating between calm and dramatic tension, the musical language of this Austrian composer allows us to hear the intensity of Christ’s last words. The conclusion, startlingly shorter and more rapid than the other sections, interprets the violence of the earthquake that followed the death of Christ. Beginning in C minor, il terremoto closes in a major key, thus proclaiming that “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). 15

O true and only Light, who flow forth from the heart of the Father: Make haste, O Lord, to save us. IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. And theWord became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. Jn 1:1, 9-11, 14 INTRODUCT ION LISTEN TO JOSEPH HAYDN’S MUSIC 1 5 min 50 INTRODUCTION 17

“In the beginning was the Word....” Word implies speech. This word can be heard. It has come down to us. It became flesh, it gave itself up for us... With Jesus’ last cry, something comes to an end forever. His temporal life will never come again. This mystery of irreversibility fascinated Péguy: “Blessed are those who saw him passing through his land; happy those who saw him walking this earth; those who saw him walk on the temporal lake; blessed those who saw him raise Lazarus. When one thinks, my God, when one thinks that happened only once... Blessed Mary Magdalene, blessed Veronica, you are saints unlike the others. All the saints contemplate Jesus seated at the right hand of his Father. And in the heavens his body as man, his glorious human body, since he rose up, as he was, on the day of his Ascension. But you, you alone, saw this human body in our common humanity, walking and seated on our common earth. You alone twice saw him, not just once like all the others, in eternity; not just the second time, which endures eternally; but in the time before, in earthly time; and it’s that which was given only once, it’s that which was not given to MEDITATION In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen 18 INTRODUCTION

everyone.”1 All that is finished forever. The temporal life of the Savior will not begin again. But the memory of it will be remembered in the heavens. And then—Péguy did not say so but it must be added—from above, God will lend us his eyes to observe the sweep of time, his gaze that is above time, where nothing is forgotten, where the whole history of time remains present in all its innate freshness. There were unspeakable sufferings in the life of Jesus, but divine and unfailing joys as well. As a little child, he enjoyed his Mother’s tenderness. Later, when he looked upon the world, how well he knew how to observe it: the flowers of the field, the mustard seeds, the fig trees that bud at the approach of summer, the wheatfields that turn golden, the red sky heralding good weather or storm. He observed the work of men, the fisherman, the sower who goes out to sow, the woman grinding the grain or searching her home to find a lost drachma. He observed all of this with profound humanity, purity, with a rapture, a joy that made him rediscover the creative thought hidden within human beings, next to which the vision of painters and poets is but little. He looked into the eyes and the hearts of little children. His soul wasn’t contracted, but opened wide. And yet, during the thirty-three years of his life, he never lost sight of the fact that he would die nailed to a bloody cross. The thought of the glory of his Father and of the world’s redemption was enough, in every circumstance, to make his soul thrill. 1 Charles Péguy, The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc, 1897. 19

The cross, ever since it was raised up in time, has become the sole salvation, not only of individual people, who are immortal, but of civilizations as well, which perish. It appeared, in the West, in a decadent world doomed to catastrophe. Next to the cost of the light it brought, the renunciations it demanded did not appear too heavy: when the earth no longer has anything to offer, the heavens, revealing its splendors, become infinitely desirable. And what happened? As the people gathered round the cross and pinned their hopes on a Kingdom that is not of this world, as if by miracle, the world brightened, life was once more humanized, Christian culture, a Christian civilization formed. All the sweetness of life reappeared. But soon, along with it, came a forgetfulness of heaven. The renunciations of the cross began to weigh heavy again. It seemed intolerable. Man undertook to conquer the earth and seek his happiness on his own. He became hardened and savage. Hasn’t humanity known enough unhappiness? Must it again be sunk in blood and madness? Must it reach the pits of despair before raising its eyes again to the cross? Christian renunciations will then no longer appear unjustified. Humanity will seek above all the Kingdom of God. And, what’s more, perhaps a new Christian temporal order may blossom, a new Christianity. The cross is more a mystery of light than a mystery of suffering. Suffering is not a permanent state; it will pass. Light 20 INTRODUCTION

is hidden beneath it; at times, shining through the veil of pain and radiating outwards. Light is permanent; it endures forever. But, through suffering, it takes on a strange beauty, assuming in its splendor that which is dignified and noble in our earthly adventure and in our human destiny. “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). 21

WORD OF GOD THE LETTER OF SAINT PAUL TO THE EPHESIANS 5:25-27 Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. The Ascent to Calvary Tintoretto (1518–1594) 24 INTRODUCTION

PRAYING WITH THE PSALMS PSALM 40:7-11 You delight not in sacrifice and offering, but in an open ear. You do not ask for holocaust and sin offering. Then I said, “Behold, I have come.” In the scroll of the book it stands written of me: “I delight to do your will, O my God; your instruction lies deep within me.” Your uprightness I have proclaimed in the great assembly. My lips I have not sealed; you know it, O Lord. Your saving help I have not hidden in my heart; of your faithfulness and salvation I have spoken. I made no secret of your merciful love and your faithfulness to the great assembly. 26 INTRODUCTION

What unfathomable mystery, Lord, made you enter our world? What is human life that you should offer your life for it? What is this law the world rejects yet you hold within your very being? That law that you did not fear to proclaim, in season or out of season, to the point of death? Why should my sin nail you to the wood of the cross? 27 “This book came to me over the course of an hour of prayerful music. I wanted to see it accompanied by magnificent works of art, biblical texts, and meditations that would carry me even further. That’s the spiritual experience proposed here. I wish you well on your spiritual journey.” Romain Lizé AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE Spend a prayerful hour with the One who loved us to the end through profound meditations, art, and music. With this book : Read Scripture, pray the psalms, and meditate on the seven last words of Christ. Discover the literary and spiritual work of Cardinal Charles Journet to understand the depths of Jesus’ last words. Listen to Franz Joseph Haydn’s musical masterpiece to live a true heart-to-heart with Christ. Through a selection of full-page artistic masterpieces, place yourself at the foot of the Cross. Romain Lizé is President of Magnificat. “These seven last words are the product of a collection and a composition born of the piety of the faithful. They manifest not the constraint, but the inventiveness of faith. They teach us how to read between the lines, as a kind of window through which we can all hear the call destined for each one of us and fulfill our lives as a continuation of the Gospel.” Fabrice Hadjadj