Crooked Finger (crookedfingers) wrote,
Crooked Finger

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tears of repentance

"Nicetas Stethatos, disciple of St. Symeon the New Theologian, teaches that tears of repentance are one thing and tears that come from holy compunction are another. The former are like the river which overflows and sweeps down all the walls of sin, whereas the latter are to the soul like rain falling on the fields and like snow on the grass: "they nourish the grain of knowledge, and make it luxuriant and fruitful". He also emphasizes that the taste of tears sometimes brings bitterness and pain, sometimes joy and gladness, to the noetic feeling of the heart. The tears of repentance create bitterness and pain; the tears of the pure heart, the heart which has attained its freedom from passions, are tears of pleasure and indescribable sweetness. Almost the same difference is found between tears from the fear of God and tears from the love of God.

Tears have many effects. They purify a person's heart from the stain of sins and then enlightens his heart. The Fathers teach that when the devil comes to a person's soul, he drops various images and then withdraws, leaving the idol of sin in the heart. Tears clean this idol away: the place of the heart is washed and the cloud which covered it disappears. Abba Poemen teaches: "He who wishes to purify his faults purifies them with tears." In another place he says: "In all our afflictions let us weep in the presence of the goodness of God until He shows mercy on us." So where there is mourning there is not a trace of slander or criticism. Actually it has been confirmed by our experience in the Church that tears can wash away sins as water washes away something written. At our tears the Holy Spirit comes and rests upon our heart, purifies us and washes us from the filth of wickedness.

Tears not only purify but they also illumine the soul. In reality the grace of God which comes through repentance brightens and sanctifies the heart of man. The abyss of mourning, that is, great mourning, sees consolation. With purity of heart comes illumination. "Illumination is an ineffable energy which is unknowingly perceived and invisibly seen." Mourning brings comfort, according to Christ's beatitude. This comfort is the solace of a sorrowing soul. Divine help is the renewal of a soul depressed by grief which, "in a wonderful way, transforms painful tears into painless ones". And Nicetas Stethatos teaches that no one can attain the potential likeness to God unless he has previously, through hot tears, purified the filth existing within him and kept the commandments of Christ. In this way we cast off deformity and become capable of enjoying the glory of God." pg. 185,186 "Orthodox Psychotherapy: The Science of the Fathers" by Metropolitan Nafpaktos Herotheos

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