The Seven Last Words of Our Lord Upon the Cross

Cloth $15
Translators and editor Brendan D. King and Joseph Lake, 88 pages, 4.5" x 7", preface, introduction, images, notes, index

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The Seven Last Words of Our Lord Upon the Cross

Abrikosova, Mother Catherine, T.O.S.D.

Servant of God Mother Catherine Abrikosov created this meditation on the seven last words of Christ as Lenten instruction for the Sisters of her Community. As Anna Ivanovna Abrikosova, together with her husband, later to be Father, Vladimir Abrikosov, she was a convert to Catholicism, at the behest of Pope St. Pius X entering specifically the Eastern Rite. She died in 1936, of cancer, in the basement of a prison in Moscow. Her cause for beatification has been introduced by the Moscow Catholic diocese.

Her Sisters, the Moscow Dominicans, numbered something over twenty, living their community life in the Abrikosovs’ large apartment in the center of the city. It was a varied group, young for the most part, from all walks of life and of many nationalities. They took the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, but adding a fateful fourth vow: that of self-sacrifice in reparation for Russia’s sin.

The meditation on Christ’s way of the cross was to serve as preparation for their own sacrificial offering. It leads up to Good Friday, the day of their Lord’s willing self-offering. The Sisters’ first arrest took place at this same period, 1923, in a raid by the Soviet secret police at the apartment. This, their own long way of the cross, was to bring exile to concentration camps in Siberia, the Arctic North, Central Asia, throughout the vast expanse of the Soviet Gulag, with periods of release and temporary “freedom” under relentless persecution. The freedom that God had granted them was of a higher order.

Easter saw them, seemingly miraculously, allowed to be reunited in a common prison cell to greet the risen Lord together in the glorious Eastern Rite Pascal celebration. When their sentences to slave labor were read out shortly afterward in the prison courtyard they sang the te deum, the monastic hymn for praise and thanksgiving: God had heard them. He had accepted their fourth vow.

All this has a special resonance in this year 2017, which marks the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Sisters’ Community, as it does of the Bolshevik seizure of power and also the appearances of Our Lady of Fatima with her promises about Russia’s future errors, to be followed by its conversion and role in universal salvation history.