The Pope is not the only one teaching us how to die

Monday, April 11, 2005

In an article by Peter Steinfels about Franz Joseph Haydn’s setting of the Seven Last Words, we read this:

At a performance at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago, the Rev. Addie L. Wyatt, who worked closely with Dr. King in the civil rights struggles and became a force in the labor and women’s movements, spoke from a wheelchair about Jesus’ final utterance.

“On March 8, 2005, I celebrated my 81st birthday,” said Ms. Wyatt. “God, in his own divine providence, is teaching me how to begin counting the years as months, counting the weeks as days, and making it a habit of saying, ‘Any day now, I’ll be going home.’

“I don’t know about you, but when that time comes, I want to be able to say, like Paul, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith,'” she continued. “I want to say, like Jesus, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.'”

As the conductor of the Vermeer String Quartet recalled, he was so overwhelmed by her testimony that as he began leading the final “word” of Haydn’s composition, “I could barely read the music,” he said, “for the tears in my eyes.” (New York Times, March 26, 2005)

And did you know:

According to Peter Steinfels, the custom of Good Friday devotions based on the Seven Last Words was initiated as a response to earthquakes in Peru in 1687. The Jesuit mission in Peru was the setting, and a Jesuit priest, Alonso Messia Bedoya, introduced the custom (which I had always assumed was Protestant!)

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