Are you an emotional person? Do you cry at the drop of a hat? Or, are you a cold, stoic sort of person who doesn’t like to show emotions at all? Well – I’ve had this column in my mind and heart for quite a while. I’m not sure whether I want to see how many of you are ‘tender.’ Or am I writing these words to sort of explain why I can get ‘glassy-eyed,’ sometimes even in front of men. I try not to let that happen – but in certain circumstances – even in front of men I can become ‘emotional.’
Well – there you are. We use words like ‘emotional’ and ‘tender’ and ‘weepy.’ The dictionary says that to be weepy is to: (1) easily be moved to tears; or: (2) marked by weeping. Those who are like this would probably say we are easily moved to tears but not marked by or noted for weeping. If you go to the proper area of the dictionary for the word ‘tender’ – it says: to be easily moved to sympathy or compassion; kind: a tender heart.
There you go – compassion and caring. That’s what makes us tender.
I can become tender when I come in proximity to a pregnant mom. When I see a young mother with a baby – I want to take the child into my arms and love on and pray for him or her. But it isn’t just babies. Music can make me quite tender. I just did a retreat at Franciscan University in Steubenville – and a lot of the music and words brought out this gift of tears.
Danielle Bean (editor for Faith and Family Magazine) did a blog column post recently about an order of Dominican nuns. The column included a video of the nuns at work, at prayer and at play. It was so beautiful – it caused tears. Not ‘boo hoo’ crying – but tender tears of appreciation for the beauty of God’s plan unfolding in the lives of these women.
You may have heard of the early leaders of the Catholic Church – they are called the Church Fathers. Saint Ignatius of Loyola is said to have had the "gift of tears." He sometimes cried so much at Mass that he could not go on, nor even talk for some time, and he was afraid that his gift of tears might cause him to lose his eyesight.
Church Fathers who wrote of such things acknowledged us who are tender. They wrote about the gift of tears and even their words make me tender because they explained the benefit for those of us who have this ‘condition.’ They said that the gift of tears is like a new baptism… cleansing and healing the soul. These tears create a period of the cleanness we experienced when we were baptized as infants. Isn’t that tender?
There can be different reasons for experiencing the gift of tears. For some – it may be a reaction to the sorrow for our sins. Don’t like that one? There’s the one I mentioned above: seeing beauty – seeing it as a miniature vision – recognition of God’s plan for us. No wonder I become emotional when in proximity to small children… or brides… or pregnant moms. Somewhere recently I wrote that one of my favorite popular Christian songs is: "I Can Only Imagine." Do you know it? If you have the Gift of Tears – I invite you to listen to the words with careful attention. It always touches me when I hear this song played.
Now if one cries at ‘every little thing,’ it’s not a good thing. St. Teresa spoke about this and warned her nuns. We need to be tougher than that. We need to be the Church Militant about what goes on in our world. St Teresa wrote: "It is easy to know when tears come from this source (God), for they are soothing and gentle rather than stormy and rarely do any harm." She also warned that this gift does not mean one has true virtue... "Let us not fancy that if we cry a great deal we have done all that is needed-rather we must work hard and practice the virtues: that is essential--leaving tears to fall when God sends them, without trying to force ourselves to shed them."
If you are a person with the Gift of Tears – I’d love to hear from you. And – if you ever experience this while you are in deep prayer or contemplation – I especially would like to hear from you. This is an indication of a deep, deep state of prayer – what they call ‘infused’ prayer and union with God. I wonder if THE Catholic Mom Lisa Hendey has this gift? I bet she does. So – it’s okay…. It’s okay. But I’d still like to hear from you.
Copyright 2009 Deacon Tom Fox
About the Author
Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings!