THE KEY NOTE of these brief Meditations on the Seven Words is that which is given by St. Paul in the phrase "the Church which He hath purchased with His Blood" (Acts 20:28); or as he elsewhere states it, "Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it" (Ephesians 5: 25). It is the thought so dominant everywhere in his Epistles that our participation in the merits of our Lord's Cross and Passion, and our share in His Risen, and Glorified Life, are through incorporation as members into His Mystical Body, the Church. "For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ" (I Cor. xii. 12). No language could more boldly identify Christ and His Church than does this.
And yet this thought is easily lost sight of in our consideration of our Saviour's Passion, and it cannot be doubted that one, and perhaps the chief reason, why many even among Church people value too little the sacramental life of the Church, is because they do not habitually associate every sacramental ordinance of the Church with the Price paid for it on the Cross.
If, then, there be anywhere a tendency on the part of Church people to relax their hold upon any portion of their priceless inheritance in the Catholic Church, it would seem that Good Friday should make its appeal to them to estimate their privileges anew, as to view them in their source, the Cross of Calvary.
Accordingly the general plan of the Meditations is to couple with each of our Lord's Sayings one aspect of His triumph on the Cross, with its invitation to us to respond to the corresponding grace or opportunity afforded in the Church. Thus in the First Word our Lord's perfect prayer suggests our use of the Eucharistic Sacrifice; His pardon of the penitent thief is our invitation to value absolution; the commending of His Mother to St. John suggests the consecration of the affections in the religious life, and the lofty estimation of Christian marriage. Under the Fourth Word some misconceptions concerning the Atonement are, simply treated. The Word, "I thirst," is taken as our Lord's invitation to the discipline of suffering; "It is finished," to patience, especially in discouragements in the Church; the last Word is the Call to Obedience to Catholic authority.