Friday, March 20, 2015

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary (Angelico Press)

Seven Words of Jesus and Mary is another recent Fulton Sheen re-release from Angelico Press that made it here in time for Lent 2015. In this 70 page book, Sheen begins with a summary of Homer's epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey. Many of us know these works. In the first, Achilles defeats (kills) Hector, and in the other Odysseus is lost at sea while his wife Penelope waits for his return. He astutely points out though that it is Hector who is the hero, not Achilles, and that Penelope is the hero, not Odysseus. He then uses these examples of the defeated man and the sorrowful woman to compare them to Jesus and Mary during Christ's Passion.

Sheen then points out a fact I never realized before. Mary is only recorded as having said seven phrases in the New Testament. This leads to the heart of the book - a juxtaposition of Jesus' seven last phrases with Mary's seven total phrases. One such example of their words next to each other is Jesus saying, "Behold your Mother," and Mary saying, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord." In these words, Sheen shows us that religion is not something one experiences individually. It is a communal thing that requires fellowship with others. That is why Mary willingly gave herself to be the mother of Jesus and bring salvation into the world. It is also why Jesus gave John (and by extension us) His mother while He was hanging on the cross.

This book reminded me of another book that Fulton Sheen penned called, The Cross and the Beatitudes. In that book, Sheen too focused on Jesus' seven last words and compared them to the Beatitudes. I already knew that Sheen was a highly intelligent man, but reading both of these books, it is clear that Sheen valued these seven phrases perhaps more than any other seven phrases in human history. If you need a perfect book for Holy Week, particularly Good Friday, I highly recommend Seven Words of Jesus and Mary and The Cross and the Beatitudes. Neither one will disappoint you, and you will walk away with a better understanding of the seven last words and a deeper love of Jesus.

This book was provided to me for free by Angelico Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here!