We’ve all heard of and perhaps experienced it: the “gift of tears.” It’s a gift of the Holy Spirit.
The tears may come due to compassion — an excellent sign. They may through joy — great also. They may come as a sign.
We are not speaking about tears that come due to morbidity, depression, despair, a jeremiad, or sadness (though these certainly have their role).
We speak here of weeping comes readily, even frequently, often accenting the Presence of God.
We speak of tears that come as a confirmation.
In particular, the gift of tears relates to those whose eyes water and whose tears may even stream down the face when they are in the Presence of a direct manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Noted one with this gift, “I had, for many years, found that I wept gently, but with no real emotion or sobbing or facial contortion, whenever a Christian gathering moved together into real praise of God, or whenever there was teaching or singing that drew us nearer to the Cross of Christ.
For decades I’ve simply been unable to sing ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’. It is as if my eyes take over from my voice! The tears flow when my voice cannot.” (Tell us your experiences.)
“It is a phenomenon mentioned in spiritual writers since very early in the Church, and it refers to an intense personal experience of God that overflows in abundant tears,” noted a priest named Father John Bartunek. “It is the overflow of a spiritual experience in an emotional/physiological expression that creates deep comfort in one’s soul, and deep encouragement for the person who receives the gift, as well as (sometimes) for others who happen to witness it.
Like all gifts of this sort (generally referred to as ‘charismatic’ gifts, from the Greek, New Testament word for ‘gift’), it is freely given by the Holy Spirit in accordance with God’s wisdom. It can be given once or multiple times, or it can even recur throughout one’s life, though it certainly doesn’t have to.”
This is a true charismatic gift that aids in discernment, releases inner spirituality, opens a direct pathway for prayers, confirms an inkling, and cleanses. Pray for it, the Pope has recently said (as did Saint Ignatius). It may help release love. The saying goes that as soap is for the baby, tears are for the soul.
Jesus wept over Lazarus, and also over Jerusalem. The tears over Lazarus showed enormous compassion and preceded his being raised from death (in this case confirming the power of love). The greatest Tears in history were the Blood of Jesus (tears that redeemed the world!).
Many mystics have had this Grace — weeping for those who seek their help and thus opening a path for the miraculous. For when we cry, we disperse the inner clutter that dams up the flow of the Spirit. Love comes with compassion.
Now, tears can be an indication that things are not right. No question. This was why Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and we note the statues of Mary known to have wept over the situation in the world.
But likewise observe that the tears from such statues — when they are of God — not only express emotion but often are said to heal or relieve the infirm who come into contact with them, showing us once again the dual nature of what they call lachrymation.
The Catechism (2702) explains that: “The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.”
As the Catholic News Service recently reported: “Pope Francis encourages people to pray for ‘the Grace of tears’ when pleading to God to help others, when recognizing their own sinfulness, when contemplating the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and when experiencing God’s mercy.” In Pope Francis’ teaching, tears — and the suffering that causes them — also can be a step toward renewed faith and clarity about the love of God.
“You see, sometimes in our lives, the glasses we need to see Jesus are tears,” he said at a morning Mass early in his papacy. “All of us in our lives have gone through moments of joy, pain, sadness — we’ve all experienced these things. In the darkest moments, did we cry? Have we received that gift of tears that prepares our eyes to see the Lord?”
[resources: The God of Miracles]
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