LOVE: On The Grace Of Tears, by Smaragdus of Saint-Mihiel

From The Crown of Monks

It is written that Achsah the daughter of Caleb said to her father with sighs, Give me a blessing.  You have given me some dry land in the south; give me also some well watered land.  And her father gave her the upper well watered place and the lower well watered place. (Joshua 15:19)  This means that we must with great groaning seek from God, our creator and father, the grace of tears.  For there are some who have already received other gifts of the Lord, signified by the south land, but have still not received the grace of tears.

The soul that thirsts for God is first pierced by fear, and afterwards by love.  It first stirs itself up by tears, because when it recalls the evils it has done it is in great fear of suffering eternal punishments for them.  But when fear has spent itself in a long period of anxious grief, a certain security is born from the presumption of pardon, and the mind is inflamed with love of Heavenly joys.  People who formerly wept lest they be led off to punishment, afterwards begin to weep most bitterly because they are kept away from the kingdom.  The mind contemplates who those angelic choirs are, what the society of the holy spirits is like, and what the majesty of the eternal vision of God.  And it laments because it is absent from everlasting good things more than it used formerly to weep when it was in fear of eternal evils.  And thus it comes about that the perfect compunction of fear draws the mind to the compunction of love.  The soul receives the upper springs when it afflicts itself in tears with desire for the Heavenly kingdom.  It receives the lower springs when it dreads with weeping the punishments of hell.

They used to say of Abba Arsenius that during his whole life while sitting at manual work, he kept a cloth in his bosom on account of the tears that frequently ran from his eyes.

Saint Syncletica said, “When people are first converted to God it is hard work and a great struggle; but afterwards they have unspeakable joy.  For just as those who want to light a fire first of all inhale smoke, and so obtain what they wish, so ought we to light the divine fire in ourselves with tears and toil.  For it is written that our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:24; see Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3)

An old man said, “As we carry around with us everywhere the shadow of our bodies, so must we have the tears of compunction with us wherever we are.”

Abba Hyperechius said, “Night and day the monk toils, keeping watch, remaining in prayer; the piercing of his heart produces tears and more speedily arouses the mercy of God.”

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