Beneath the Cross

Meditations on the Seven Last Words

Christian - Devotion/Study
80 Pages
Reviewed on 10/02/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joe Wisinski for Readers' Favorite

Beneath the Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Bishop Gerardo Colacicco is a fictional yet realistic account of how those who encountered Jesus Christ during his ministry might have reacted while seeing him during his crucifixion. It’s based on the seven last words (actually sentences) spoken by Christ on the cross. The subjects include the woman caught in adultery, the newlyweds from Cana, the blind man at the side of the road, and others. Colacicco speculates about whether these people ever encountered Jesus again, specifically whether they saw him as he was being crucified. Each hears Christ’s seven last words and recalls his or her earlier encounter with him. They want to be there for him just as he was for them.

Gerardo Colacicco is the auxiliary bishop for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. But one does not have to be a Roman Catholic to benefit from this book. Indeed, one does not even need to be religious. Anyone will be moved by the accounts. What I found most inspiring was that the stories told by the subject of the scripture passages were in first-person. Colacicco wrote what he believes the individuals might have thought and said while meeting Jesus the first time and then while seeing him later on the cross. Part of the charm of this book is knowing that it’s from meditations that Colacicco delivered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Good Friday, April 10, 2020. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Colacicco spoke to an almost empty cathedral, although the service was live-streamed, and it’s good to know that Colacicco’s words are receiving further distribution through this book. I recommend Beneath the Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Bishop Gerardo Colacicco to anyone.

Jamie Michele

Beneath the Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words is a Christian theological devotional by His Excellency The Most Reverend Bishop Gerardo J. Colacicco. In the absence of an in-person Tre Ore service during the time of a worldwide pandemic, the traditional Good Friday meditations are contained within the pages of this powerful study. For readers who are new to or have not yet heard of this tradition, it is a delivery of Jesus Christ's final seven articulated words, his expressions, during his crucifixion as death approaches. Its purpose is to allow the faithful to enter into the passion of Christ; to meditate and be with Jesus in his last hours. Bishop Colacicco walks readers through each of the seven words with content that brings those who crossed paths with Christ and places them beneath the cross with profoundly raw accounts of deliverance.

It is incredibly rare to come across a wholly original Three Hours' Agony sermon, and for as long as I can remember they have always been similar versions of the same thing. My surprise at Beneath the Cross cannot be understated, nor can the perfect timing of its landing in my lap. I was so desperate to find fellowship while in a state of complete isolation, which Bishop Gerardo J. Colacicco has now brought to me in Beneath the Cross. What I loved the most are the first-person accounts that are narrated much in the same way that anyone today would while watching someone who has deeply touched their suffering. The most poignant example of this based on my own feelings at the moment was at The Fourth Word, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” From here Bishop Colacicco calls upon The Blind Man at the Side of the Road from Luke, who reminisces about the time before Christ gave him sight when the man was as invisible to the world as they were to him. In Christ's agony, the beggar professes that he sees Him. That he is there with Him. That He is not forsaken. Beneath the Cross is a beautiful compilation that is as powerful as it is touching in both its innovation and its beauty.

Tammy Ruggles

Beneath the Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Bishop Gerardo Colacicco is a unique devotional study that will inspire, comfort, and uplift readers. The bishop uses the healing miracles and acts of Jesus in a reimagined way, placing himself as the narrator of some of the people He encountered during His earthly ministry, such as the woman caught in adultery, the couple at the Cana wedding where Jesus turned water into wine, the rich young ruler, among others. The author writes what-if scenarios from their points of view, placing them beneath the cross during His crucifixion, hearing His last words, and expounding on how He touched their lives. These meditations have become well-known and popular, and now they are available in this book. The bishop also relates moments from his own walk of faith.

Bishop Colacicco uses great imagination without straying from the essential messages of the biblical accounts. The author uses simple language to convey his stories, and they are thoughtful and respectful. As you read, you will find yourself in the shoes of each "character" and will come to appreciate the elaboration of each one, and can apply it to your own life. If you are familiar with the biblical accounts, this little book will add meaning. And if you aren't familiar, then this is a good first introduction to Jesus' ministry and the Bible. These meditations would appeal to almost any age group, from children to teenagers, to adults. The one about the woman caught in adultery is my personal favorite, in that the author gave her a very realistic backstory as to why and how she came to that point in her life. Jesus' words and actions will stay with you for a long time, as will hers (as imagined by the author). If you're interested in Bible study based on the works and life of Jesus Christ, Beneath the Cross: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Bishop Gerardo Colacicco would be the perfect resource.