“O misery of Judas! He saw the harlot kiss Thy feet, and deceitfully he plotted to betray Thee with a kiss. She loosed her hair and he was bound a prisoner by fury, bearing in place of myrrh the stink of evil: for envy knows not how to choose its own advantage. O misery of Judas! From this deliver our souls, O God!”
There are many kinds of tears, and it is important to discriminate between them.
So writes Bishop Kallistos Ware in The Inner Kingdom, in a chapter on “The Orthodox Experience of Repentance.” He has much to say about tears, which requires seven paragraphs, and I include this one sentence as a means of introducing the fact that in the Orthodox understanding, tears are a great and even necessary gift. Being reminded, I read the chapter’s closing paragraphs with a new perspective:
Filled with grief yet at the same time filled with joy, repentance expresses the creative tension found at all times in the Christian life on this earth, and described with such vividness by St. Paul: “…always carrying in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body…dying, and behold we live…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor 4:10; 6:9-10).
As a life of continual repentance, our Christian discipleship is a sharing at one and the same time in Gethsemane and the Transfiguration, in the Cross and the Resurrection. St John Climacus sums the matter up by saying, “If you put on blessed and grace-filled mourning as a wedding robe, you will know the spiritual laughter of the soul.”
“The sweet work of repentance
that is set before us as followers of Christ,
is nothing other than the return to reality.”
“How we feel about many things has this same make-believe quality. We find certain styles of clothing and certain products (cars, houses, etc.) attractive and desirable, but often with little more than subjective reasons for our desires. The power of this make-believe is so great that it is well-known that many people “go shopping” to battle depression. It is a strange therapy.”
Read the rest of the article by Father Stephen Freeman here: “The Unreal Land” — about the real cause of so much of our grief and misery in everyday life, “a ceaseless struggle with things that have no true existence.”
When I look around his blog I always find plenty to provoke my thoughts in a good direction. His book Everywhere Present puts a lot of this food for the soul together in one nourishing bowl.
“Correctly understood, repentance is not negative but positive. It means not self-pity or remorse but conversion, the re-centering of our whole life upon the Trinity. It is to look not backward with regret but forward with hope – not downwards at our own shortcomings but upwards at God’s love. It is to see, not what we have failed to be, but what by divine grace we can now become; and it is to act upon what we see. To repent is to open our eyes to the light.
“In this sense, repentance is not just a single act, at initial step, but a continuing state, an attitude of heart and will that needs to be ceaselessly renewed up to the end of life.”