When was the last time a Scripture verse, a homily or time alone with the Lord brought you to tears? How often do the many blessings in your life have you reaching for the Kleenex box? Pope Francis recently asked similar questions, reminding Christians everywhere that tears actually bring us closer to the Church and prepare us to see Christ.
In his April 2 homily during daily Mass at the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pontiff referred to the act of being moved to tears as an actual gift.
“All of us have felt joy, sadness and sorrow in our lives, but have we wept during the darkest moment? Have we had the ‘gift of tears’ that prepare the eyes to look, to see the Lord?”
I have to admit the pope’s references to tears brought me close to tears and helped me feel closer to our new Vicar of Christ. Even though Pope Emeritus Benedict is still with us, thank the Lord, I have missed him a great deal and have spent a lot of time comparing Pope Francis to his predecessor, hoping and praying that the new pontiff’s writings and homilies would have even a small percentage of the impact the work of Pope Benedict had — and continues to have — on my spiritual life.
The fact that Pope Francis is of Italian heritage did help me make an initial connection. And his extremely warm and outgoing personality didn’t hurt, either. At the same time, I wasn’t allowing myself or my heart to be totally open to Pope Francis. I was a little worried that Pope Emeritus Benedict would be forgotten. Then I read Pope Francis’ homily concerning tears. That was it. “He gets it,” I thought, and he also certainly gets me.
I have always been more on the emotional side, so much so that my closest friends nicknamed me “Teary T” and growing up my family often referred to me as “Miss Waterworks.” I always thought I was a little bit odd in terms of my being moved to tears so easily. This “gift” grew even stronger after my reversion to the Church.
Several years ago, a good friend of mine explained to me that I should stop questioning and start realizing that God had given me a unique gift — the gift of tears. She told me it is given to some of us by the Holy Spirit as a way to manifest our love for God and to remind us of his glory, majesty and — most of all — his mercy. While the nicknames stuck, the embarrassment vanished, which explains why I was so taken by the pope’s reflections concerning the gift of tears given to St. Mary Magdalene.
As Pope Francis explained, Mary Magdalene is the woman “whom Jesus said had loved much and therefore her sins were forgiven.” However, he added, she had to “confront the loss of all her hopes” in not finding Jesus and for this she wept.
“We too can ask the Lord for the gift of tears. It is a beautiful grace ... to weep praying for everything: for what is good, for our sins, for graces, for joy itself.”
Weeping, the pontiff added, “prepares us to see Jesus.”
What an appropriate spiritual gift to ask for as we continue moving through this Year of Faith. How often do we take everything for granted and get lost in the noise and the business of our day? Being given this gift, as Pope Francis explained, can stop us in our tracks and really make a profound difference in our relationship with Christ:
“It is the Lord who gives us the grace to be able to say with our lives, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ not because he has appeared but because I have seen him in my heart. And this should be the testimony of our lives: I live this way because I have seen the Lord.”
Thank you, Pope Francis. Now, please pass those tissues.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.