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Shin
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« on: November 05, 2010, 08:10:20 PM »

I am going to start with some readings here..

Hope we can each to some degree say a little of what we think about, how we are inspired thinking about, the 'gift of tears'..

Now from Pope St. Gregory the Great..

Peter speaking to St. Gregory, asks, "Please, most honored Master, tell  me what are the various kinds of contrition."

St. Gregory replies..

Contrition, Peter, manifests itself in many forms of spiritual beauty.

.. I have to pause a moment before continuing with Pope St. Gregory.. is that not something to think about, that could keep you occupied for the longest time..? The association of contrition with spiritual beauty. . the fundamentals of contrition..

Contrition, Peter, manifests itself in many forms of spiritual beauty.

Continuing..

For this reason, Jeremiah says, "For these things I weep, mine eyes runneth down with water" (Lamentations 1:16). However, there are two essential kinds of contrition.

When the soul, thirsting, seeks God, at the outset it feels contrition out of fear, but afterwards out of desire. In the beginning, it is crushed when it recalls its sins and is frightened thereby, lest it be condemned to eternal hell. After the soul has been greatly upset, this cowardliness subsides and there is born within the soul a certain assurance with regard to forgiveness, as well as a certain courage; and in this, the soul is warmed by a desire for Heavenly joy. And this soul, which shortly before wept from the fear that it might be condemned, begins afterwards to weep bitterly once again, but now because it is so far from the Kingdom of Heaven. That is, the spiritual mind having been cleansed, it clearly beholds before it what the choirs of the Angels are, what they partake of, what the splendor of the blessed spirits is (as well as what their glory is), and what the vision of God Himself is.

The soul thus laments all the more, since it must postpone the enjoyment of eternal good things which await it. In such a way, this perfect contrition leads the soul from fear to love, as it is so well written in the sacred and true story of Ascha (Achsa), daughter of Chaleb (Caleb). Now it is said in the Old Testament that Ascha, seated on an ass, sighed. "What is wrong?" her father asked her, and she replied: "Bless me with the lands that are to the north, for you have given me dry lands; give to me also lands which are watered by springs." And her father gave her lands that were watered by springs from below and which were watered from above.

Ascha, seated upon an ass, symbolizes the soul which continues to take refuge in the irrational thrills of the flesh; the fact that she sighed and asked of her father land watered by springs means that we should ask from our Creator, with great groaning, the gift of tears.

For many are those who have been made worthy to receive the gift of teaching and the boldness to preach the truth, to comfort the afflicted, to give relief to those in need, and to become zealots of the Faith; but they have not yet received the gift of tears. That is, they possess a stretch of dry land, but they also need a stretch of land that is watered. They truly perform good deeds in their life; they must, however, lament for the evil deeds that they performed previously; either out of fear of the coming Judgement or out of love for the Heavenly Kingdom. Thus will they, too, enter that realm where the great Saints, who are ablaze with love, are to be found.

As I have said, there are two kinds of contrition. The aforementioned story says that Ascha's father gave her a stretch of land that was watered from above and one that was watered from below. A soul which mourns with tears out of its desire for the Kingdom of Heaven receives the stretch of land that is watered from above; while a soul which laments out of fear of eternal punishment receives the stretch of land that is watered from below. Although, during the stages of spiritual progress, the soul is first given the land which is watered from below, that is, it laments out of fear of eternal punishment and is subsequently given the land which is watered from above (namely, gladsome contrition arising from nostalgia for the Kingdom of Heaven), nevertheless the story in question of necessity mentions first the land which is watered from above and secondly the land which is watered from below, because the former is of greater worth than the later.'

Now a break from Pope St. Gregory the great, to change speakers.. and see more insight following.. or comment..
« Last Edit: November 05, 2010, 08:17:31 PM by Shin » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 08:21:12 PM »

There's so much to notice here..

First the statement that what is above requires what is below to happen first.. I have heard this before.. I am reminded of St. Diadochos' quote that begins, 'No one can love God consciously in his heart unless he has first feared Him with all his heart.'

Next, Ascha is seated upon an ass.. When one hears of an donkey, one thinks of the body.. the flesh..

Ascha sighs.. she desires the gift of tears.. to gain her desire, she begins with a sigh..

Her father asks her, "What is wrong?" and she asks for the source from which the gift may come..

.. By the way, I would love this gift of tears myself.. Here I am posting about it when I do not have it.. I think the discussion and study will be a help..

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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2010, 08:47:02 PM »

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First the statement that what is above requires what is below to happen first.. I have heard this before.

This is bringing to mind something very important that a friend and I were discussing today. That is, if we want something from God we must first do what we can here in the flesh to open the door for grace.

For example if we wish for the grace of detachment from frivolous things then we must first of all do a little bit ourselves like practicing custody of the eyes. If the Lord see's we are serious in that we've taken the first steps that are within our means, then He will respond with the graces necessary to take the further steps that can only be achieved through supenatural means.

It was St Louis de Montfort who first put this way of proceding into my head and then a priest on Audio Sancto confirmed it in a sermon.
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 08:51:35 PM »

I really like that thought Martin, it feels like a key to open doors that otherwise appear closed to people.
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 10:33:29 PM »

hi -- i'm new -- but i was drawn to this thread because i have been given the gift of tears -- it is a much needed gift and brings many good things with it, but it is also heavy to carry.  thank you for the insights.
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 10:36:58 PM »

hi -- i'm new -- but i was drawn to this thread because i have been given the gift of tears -- it is a much needed gift and brings many good things with it, but it is also heavy to carry.  thank you for the insights.

Looking forwards to hearing more of your comments on it as the thread progresses! You should have some of the most heartfelt ones!  crucifix

God bless us all I pray and help us to carry the cross!
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 10:57:50 PM »

The following begins as an instruction and changes into a prayer. Reading it, it strikes me it reads like an old prayer book I might find at an antique sale, from a few decades past. But St. Ephraem was born c. 306, A.D. I do not think that the reason it strikes like this is simply the translator.. I think perhaps it shows how the prayers most acceptable to God do not change, just as the Faith does not change.

Now follows from St. Ephraem, who is called, 'the Harp of the Holy Spirit':

'The beginning of contrition is for one to know himself. Let our contrition not be merely human, or for outward show before men; but let it be as it is willed by God, Who knows the secrets of our hearts, so that we may be blessed by Him. Let us, therefore, wear a cheerful expression when we encounter people, but let us weep and mourn inwardly.

For contrition is a prerequisite for spiritual labor and it guards us; contrition cleanses the soul with tears and renders it pure. Contrition gives birth to chastity, cuts off pleasures at their roots, and enables us to acquire the virtues. Indeed, what is it that I am saying? That contrition is blessed by God and praised by the Angels.

Grant me tears of contrition, I beseech Thee, O Lord, Who alone art good and compassionate, that I may thereby bewail myself and implore Thy compassion. Cleanse me of the filth of sin.

Alas! How shall I endure the Gehenna of fire and the outer darkness? Alas! How shall I endure Hell and the eternal torments of that place, and the worm that pours out venom and never dies? Alas! How shall I endure the dreadful threatening of the fallen Angels who oversee torments, for they are fearsome and hard-hearted? Who will pour water on my head and fountains of tears into my eyes, so that I may sit and lament night and day and propitiate God, Whom I have angered?

Have you sinned, O my soul, have you sinned? Repent, for our days pass like shadows; a little while, and you will depart this world. You are going to pass through fearful places; it is not possible, my soul, for you to avoid passing through these places. There will be no one from this world to accompany you or help you: neither father, nor mother, nor brother, nor friend, nor any other person. But on your own, O my soul, with your deeds, will you pass before the rulers of darkness. They neither fear kings, nor honor potentates, nor do they respect anyone, be he small or great, with the exception of him who has lived a pious life and been clothed, by virtue of his deeds, with the protection of God. From him they withdraw, because they fear him, and they afford him a thoroughfare with safe conduct. For his virtue will precede him and the glory of God will ward them off.

My Lord, when I reflect on that hour, I fall down before Thy goodness and I beseech Thee, that I may not be delivered to those who wrong me (the demons); let Thine enemies not boast against Thy servant, O good Lord, by grinding their teeth and terrifying my sinful soul. Let them not say: "Have you fallen into our hands? This is the day we have been awaiting." Do not, O Lord, do not forget Thy compassion. O Lord, do not desire to punish me in accordance with my iniquities, nor turn Thy countenance disdainfully elsewhere, so as to avoid looking at Thy servant.

Chastise me, O Lord, but with compassion, for I am weak; and let not the Enemy vaunt himself to my detriment, but thwart his threatening, quash his tyranny, and count me worthy to traverse the way that leads to Thee without suffering insults or harassment. Be lenient with me, O good Lord, not on account of my virtues, but out of Thy pity and Thine immeasurable compassion, and save from death a soul that calls upon Thy holy Name.

Be mindful, O Lord, that having sinned and been mortally wounded, I have not had recourse to any other physician, nor have I stretched forth my hands in supplication to any strange god, but only to Thy goodness. For Thou, O Lord, art sovereign over all things, and hast authority over everything that exists. Cleanse me, O Lord, of every sin before the end, and do not reject my entreaty. O good Lord, an unclean mouth, a polluted heart, and a soul tarnished by its sins cry out to Thee.

Hearken unto my unworthiness, O Lord, because Thy goodness is great and inexpressible, and grant me a pure and true repentance, for that which I have is a sham, since at one o'clock I repent and at two o'clock I anger Thee. Make firm my heart in the fear of Thee, O good Lord, and establish my feet upon the rock of sincere repentance. May Thy goodness, O Lord, overcome the evil that is in me, and may the light of Thy Grace overcome the darkness that prevails within me.

O Lord, Who didst open the eyes of the blind, open the darkened eyes of my heart. O Though Who by Thy word didst cleanse lepers, cleanse also the sins of my soul. May Thy Grace be within me, O Lord, as a fire to burn up my sins; for Though alone art the Physician of souls, the Light that is more radiant than all other lights, the joy, the repose, the delight, the true life, and the salvation, abiding unto the ages of ages, and unto Thee belong glory, honor, and worship, now and ever, and unto the ages. Amen.

In particular, I implore you, O beloved elect of God, that you beseech His goodness for me, the sinner, as the Apostles made entreaty for the Canaanite woman. You who are worthy, make entreaty for me who am worthless and useless, so that my own supplication may enter into the presence of God together with your right acceptable supplications and may free me from the tyranny of the Devil. May me name be inscribed in the Book of Life and may I be deemed worthy to worship before the Throne of His Kingdom, for His is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, unto the ages. Amen.'

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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010, 11:11:42 PM »

This is very meaty, which makes me recall how thankful I am that I typed it -- it can be a little difficult to make ourselves read longer things, but if one does one benefits from it. I keep going to the short quotes of the saints.. then one goes to the longer..

Retyping something one has read by a saint in a book is like taking notes, it helps you to appreciate it more and learn more. I highly recommend transcribing writings from books by the saints simply for this sake among so many other reasons. It is self benefiting. And it benefits others at once. It benefits the mind like taking notes makes a greater impression and for more thought in a school.

'The beginning of contrition is for one to know himself.'

This makes me think about how we talked about humility and the link between humility and simple honesty -- seeing things clearly. I remember in the beginning how I would look at the saints and think their statements on their sinfulness, contrition, perhaps too far in relation to average folks, and that they were not seeing clearly because of their depth of love. But in truth, it is the opposite. We do not see clearly, they see clearly.

Pride truly is blinding and self destructive. If you're proud, if you're mistaken, you cannot see it, and you attack the person who tries to help you. This is why a person needs to pray to find the truth and love the truth and seek it wherever it is, and why finding happiness in being rebuked is part of the lives of the saints -- because of the spiritual profit they gain from it. I wonder how many times my pride has prevented me from seeing the truth?

"For these things I weep, mine eyes runneth down with water" (Lamentations 1:16).

Contrition is the prerequisite for spiritual labor. Not only is it humility and clear seeing truth, it is a prerequisite, a requirement before good work can be done.

I think that's something one could think about for the longest time.

When we see ourselvse clearly we are full of contrition.

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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2010, 03:56:22 PM »

'There are two kinds of sadness. The first is begotten once anger has ceased, or from some hurt that has been suffered or from a desire that has been thwarted and brought to naught. The other comes from unreasonable mental anguish or from despair. There are two kinds of acedia. One makes those who are seething with emotion fall asleep. The other encourages a person to abandon his cell and to flee.'

St. John Cassian



One needs to discern very carefully whether the tears are the gift from Him or merely a sign of sadness and mental anguish. When in this state I wonder if one can discern this by oneself. I would think this is where a devout SD would come in.
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« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2010, 04:21:44 PM »

'1. A brother asked an Elder: "How is it possible, Father, for a man to weep?" "Weeping is a habit," the Elder replies, and he who seeks after it requires much time for training his thoughts, so that his mind may always attend to the sins he has committed, or contemplate Hell, or keep in constant remembrance all of his Fathers and how they lived in the world and where they are now."

The brother said: "Should a monk remember his parents at all, Father, even if they are dead?" The Elder responded: "If you see that this recollection brings about compunction in your soul, focus your mind on it; and later on, when tears come, channel them in whatever direction you wish, either into recalling your sins or into some other good recollection.

2. "I know a brother who is a practitioner of virtue. When his heart was hard, he would beat himself many times and would cry form the great pain that he felt; then he would recall Hell and all his sins."

3. Regarding a certain brother, I learned that, after renouncing the world, he went to live on Mount Nitria. His cell was close to the cell of another brother, whom he would hear weeping incessantly every day over his sins. When, after a long time, tears did not come to him, he said to his soul: "Are yuo not weeping, you wretch, and are you not lamenting? Believe me, if you are reluctant, I will make you weep." He arose, took a whip that had a crop of solid gold, from which there hung a double rope, and beat himself with it so hard he began to weep from the pain.

The brother who lived with him marveled at what this brother was doing and besought God to reveal to him whether the latter was doing right in tormenting himself. And, in fact, one night in a dream he saw this brother wearing a crown and standing among the Martyrs; and someone was saying to him, as he was dreaming: "Behold the good struggler, who is tormenting himself for the sake of Christ, how he is crowned together with the Martyrs."'

- the sayings of the Desert Fathers

'The days of the Passion are days when the very stones melt into tears. What! the High-Priest is dead, and we cannot weep over Him? We must have lost faith, O my God!'

St. Paul of the Cross

'Why must we suffer? Because here below pure Love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours.'

St. Bernadette Soubirous

'A brother asked Abba Ammonas: "Speak a word to me, that I may be saved." The Elder replied to him: "Make your thoughts like those of malefactors in jail. They are forever asking passersby: "Where is the governor, and when is he coming?" And the weep from the expectation of their trial and punishment. So also, the monk ought always to attend to his soul and say: "Woe is me. How shall I appear before the dread tribunal of the just Judge? And what defense shall I give to Him?" If you always think along these lines, you can be saved."

Abba Makarios the Egyptian said: "When I was a boy, I used to graze cattle, and (on one occasion), I went with some other boys to steal figs. As we ran, one of the figs fell; I picked it up and ate it. Whenever I recall this deed of mine, I sit down and weep.

The same Elder said: Sins are forgiven through tears; but when you weep, do not raise the voice of your groaning. Let the left hand, that is, vainglory, not know what your right hand is doing.

One one occasion, as he was returning to Egypt, Abba Poimen saw a woman sitting on a tomb and weeping bitterly. He said to himself: "If all the delights of the world were assembled in front of her, they could not comfort her soul, because she is mourning. So, also, should the monk always have contrition of soul."

Another brother asked the same Elder: "What must I do to be saved?" And the Elder answered him: "When Abraham entered the Promised Land, he purchased a tomb for himself, and by the means of this tomb he inherited the land."

The brother asked him again: "What is the tomb?"

The Elder said to him: "It is a place of mourning and contrition."

Abba Isaac related the following: "One one occasion I was sitting near Abba Poimen and I saw him fall into ecstasy and lamentation. Since I had boldness before him, I made a prostration to him and implored him saying: "Tell me, where were you?" When I pressed him, he replied, "In my mind, I was beside the Cross of the Savior, where the Holy Theotokos Mary stood and wept, and I wished that I could always weep that way (as did the Theotokos for her Crucified Son)."

Abba Paul said: "I am in mire, sinking up to my neck, and I weep in the presence of Jesus, saying, "Have mercy on me."

An Elder said: "If you do not have compunction, strive to ensure that all your vessels and goods are poor, like those of our brothers who sit in the marketplace and beg."

The same Elder said: "If you do not have compunction, know that you are suffering from vainglory or the love of pleasure; for these vices do not allow a soul to feel compunction."

The same Elder said: "If God grants you contrition, do not think that you are doing anything important by constantly weeping, thereby letting proud thoughts spring up in your heart; otherwise, God will take away your tears and in the future your heart will remain hard and without compunction."'

- the sayings of the Desert Fathers
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2010, 03:33:34 PM »

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'Why must we suffer? Because here below pure Love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours.'

St. Bernadette Soubirous
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2010, 05:35:51 PM »

Abba Makarios the Egyptian said: "When I was a boy, I used to graze cattle, and (on one occasion), I went with some other boys to steal figs. As we ran, one of the figs fell; I picked it up and ate it. Whenever I recall this deed of mine, I sit down and weep.

I have much weeping yet to do.  cross prayer

O Sweet Jesus!  Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to Thee, may my heart be Thy perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to Thee, and my the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Thy saints, praise Thee forever.  Amen
St Bridget of Sweden
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2010, 06:02:11 PM »

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O Sweet Jesus!  Pierce my heart so that my tears of penitence and love will be my bread day and night; may I be converted entirely to Thee, may my heart be Thy perpetual habitation, may my conversation be pleasing to Thee, and my the end of my life be so praiseworthy that I may merit Heaven and there with Thy saints, praise Thee forever.  Amen
St. Bridget of Sweden
cross prayer cross prayer

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« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2010, 07:42:05 PM »

An Elder took his disciple and went to a certain city on some errand, remaining there for a week. Every day, he saw many men and women going from the city early in the morning to a cemetery and lamenting their dead until the third hour. So the Elder said to his disciple, "Do you see, brother, what these people wake up for? Believe me, if we do not do the same, we will go to perdition."

When they returned to their cell, they constructed tombs for themselves, the one far apart from the other, and every day each of them would sit before his tomb, weeping over his soul as if it were a corpse from morning until evening. If it ever happened that the disciple fell asleep in the morning from doing his prayer rule, the Elder would shout, in order to wake him up, and say to him: "Get up, brother; they (the demons) have now been at the tombs for an hour and they are doing their work."

One day, the brother said to the Elder: "My heart is becoming hard and I am unable to weep."

"Struggle and labor for a short time, my child," answered the Elder. "God, Who sees your toil, will have mercy on you. Just as the heart, when it is pierced by an arrow, can no longer be healed, so also, when God pricks it with contrition, pain never departs from it thereafter; it remains wounded until death. Whereever such a man may go, he always has contrition as an inseparable companion."

On another occasion, when the Elder saw that the brother was weighed down from over-eating (for some people had come to visit the evening before), he said to him in private: "Do you not know that contrition is a small lamp, which, if you light it and do not cover it carefully, is quickly extinguished and goes out? So, too, contrition is extinguished by large amounts of food and impeded by much sleep; slander destroys it; and loquacity and, in general, all bodily respite, drives it away and obliterates it. He who loves God and desires to preserve a feeling of contrition should, in every task that he performs, dedicate one part of it to Christ."

"What do these words mean, Father?" asked the brother. And the Elder replied: "Do you wish to learn how one can set a part of Christ in everything that he does? Pay attention: when, for example some quality of bread comes your way, put it aside for another brother to eat; and for yourself, for the sake of Christ eat some moldy bread. If again, you are given some good wine, mix it with a little vinegar, for the sake of Christ, Who drank vinegar. Do not gorge (when you eat), but leave a little food aside, and say: 'Here is a portion for Christ.' If you find a soft pillow, put it aside and use a rock, for the sake of Christ."

"If you feel cold when you sleep, endure it and say: 'Other people are not sleeping at all.' If you are cooking food for yourself to eat, spoil it a little and say: 'Others, though they deserve it, do not even eat bread, while I, who am unworthy, eat cooked food -- whereas I ought to be eating dust and ashes on account of my unclean deeds.' To pit it simply, mingle a little affliction in all that you do and live humbly, keeping in mind how the Saints lived. In this way, when the hours of death comes, we, too, will have experienced a certain amount of affliction and distress and will thereby attain rest in the next life."

- from the Gerontikon
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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2010, 04:55:19 PM »

I really want to learn this last lesson.. to always take a little suffering, a little mortification, at least, with every portion of life, and in this way, to always have Christ with you.

It is truly a great thought to be able to always have Christ with you.

I know I am far from learning it, but I can make a beginning.
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