In one of his Meditations on the Gospels, Blessed Charles de Foucauld considers the third beatitude according to Saint Luke (which is itself a variation, or perhaps an intensification of the second beatitude in Saint Matthew’s Gospel), that ‘blessed are you that weep now’ (Luke 6:21). In doing so, he neglects the second article of this beatitude (‘…for you shall laugh’) to focus solely on the blessedness of weeping, of tears, and the way in which they can have a purifying power, drawing us closer to the grief Our Lord feels for us all, and also opening our eyes to the suffering of others, deepening our empathy for their grief and our sorrow for their sins.
Blessed Charles thus distinguishes between the purely natural grief we feel for the sufferings we endure in this world, and of contrition for our sins, both of which can be used for our purification, and those which emerge from a disposition of Charity in the soul, leading us to weep for others because of their sinful state, in our desire to see them delivered from their bondage. The first case is part and parcel of life in a fallen world, but can be turned to our advantage; the second gives us more cause for hope, as it shows that we are being given a clearer sense of our own state; and the third is more blessed still, as it displays a perfect concern for the good of the other, which can only come from a heart that is filled with divine Charity – the love with which God loves us.
Finally, there are the tears which come from a yearning for God – a desire to be with Him and gaze upon Him eternally, without the distance of knowing and loving that we experience in this life. Whilst this last is most blessed of all, all of these, according to Charles de Foucauld, are blessed states indeed, and so we should not disdain the fall of tears in times of grief, but embrace them as both opportunities for growth and signs that there is still love in us, albeit in varying degrees. We must also trust that God will be able to do something with our tears – that if we offer them up to Him in faith, good will be done, both with respect to our own souls and the degree to which we empathise with the tears of others.
Let us pray then that, whilst it is natural to want to avoid tears, we do not try to protect ourselves from them so much that our hearts become hardened. One who weeps, while it often may not feel like it at the time, is more blessed than a soul who cannot do so for lack of love, and is also closer to He who wept over the hardness of the hearts of many (c.f.; Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37-39):
‘Let us hope, let all those of us who weep and shed innocent tears keep on hoping; let us hope whether we are weeping for the pains of body or of soul: these will serve as our purgatory. God will make use of them to… make us raise our eyes to him, purify us and sanctify us.
Let us hope even more if we are weeping for the pains of others, for this act of charity is inspired by God and pleasing to him. Let us hope even more if we are weeping for our own sins since this compunction has been placed into our souls by God himself. Let us hope even more if, with a pure heart, we are weeping for the sins of others, for this love for the glory of God and sanctification of souls has been inspired by God and is a great grace.
Let us hope if we are weeping with desire to see God and pain at being separated from him, for this loving desire is God’s work in us. Let us hope even more if we are weeping simply because we love, without either desire or fear, desiring completely what God wishes and nothing more, happy in his glory, suffering from his former sufferings, weeping sometimes for compassion at the remembrance of his Passion, sometimes for joy at the thought of his Ascension and glory, sometimes simply from emotion because we are dying for love of him!
O sweetest Jesus, make me weep for all these reasons; make me weep all those tears that cause love in you, through you and for you to spread abroad. Amen.’
from Meditations on the Passages of the Holy Gospels referring to the Fifteen Virtues, number 15, courtesy of Daily Gospel.