Seven Last Words
Cardinal Basil Hume
When, on 13 April 1999, Cardinal Basil Hume was told he was dying of cancer, his immediate reaction was to go to the hospital chapel to spend some time in prayer before the crucifix. He had great devotion to the last words of Jesus and he was, in a sense, making Jesusï¿½ prayer his own: ï¿½Into your hands I commend my spiritï¿½. Out of the
depths of despair and suffering, he was searching for hope, and that is what he found in the secret of the crucifix. Three days later, in a letter to the priests of his diocese, he revealed that the cancer was not ï¿½in its early stagesï¿½, but he added: ï¿½I have received two wonderful graces. First, I have been given time to prepare for a new future. Secondly, I
find myself ï¿½ uncharacteristically ï¿½ calm and at peaceï¿½.
A new future ï¿½ calm and at peace. Not in the depths of despair. Undoubtedly, Cardinal Basil Hume was able to draw tremendous strength from his own reflections on Jesus dying on the cross so that his own suffering became a longing for the new future. The Cardinalï¿½s own reflections, presented here in this unique recording, were the fruit of many years of prayer and meditation.
In an interview broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in 1986, Cardinal Hume revealed how important to him was the crucifix in his chapel at Archbishopï¿½s House. In this interview he said:
“I like that because sometimes in the morning when youï¿½re tired and have a lot of
worries in your head itï¿½s not easy to get the head up to God, so you have to pray with
your eyes. Sometimes I just sit and look at the cross and say to myself: in all the hospitals
there are people dying. A lot of people I meet or who write letters to me are suffering
terribly at this moment. So, looking at the cross, I think of all those people sharing that
passion, sharing the agony of our Lord. And if God became man ï¿½ as indeed he did ï¿½ he
came to share a lot of what we all have to live and undergo and gives it meaning and
purpose, and makes it holy. I find that very powerful and when people say to me: ‘Iï¿½m
very worried’, or ‘Iï¿½ve just lost my husband’, or ‘Thereï¿½s been a terrible tragedy in our
family ï¿½ please pray for me’, I say ‘Yes, Iï¿½ll do it tomorrow morning’. So sitting in the
chapel, looking at the crucifix, I remember that person.”
Reproduced on the front cover is the crucifix in the chapel at Archbishopï¿½s House, Westminster. Reproduced on the back cover of the booklet in this CD is his earliest, hand-written reflections on Christ’s words from the cross.
Basil Humeï¿½s own introduction to these meditations is read by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. The text is read by Bishop John Crowley, Emeritus Bishop of Middlesbrough and scripture quotations are read by Kathleen Griffin, a freelance broadcaster, producer and teacher.