A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Francis Speaks – Our Lady of Tears

Mary’s tears are a reflection of Jesus’ tears. Jesus wept, the Gospel tells us of two episodes: at the tomb of his friend Lazarus (cf. Jn 11:35) and in front of Jerusalem (cf. Lk 19:41). In both cases they were tears of sorrow. But we can imagine that Jesus also wept with joy, for example when he saw the little ones, the humble people enthusiastically accepting the Gospel.

Mary, the Mother, is the first disciple. She is more of a disciple than a Mother. She followed her Son in everything, even in the holiness of her sentiments, her emotions, even in laughter and in tears. Surely tears of joy fell from her eyes when she gave birth to Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem, and when she saw the shepherds and the Magi prostrate themselves before him. And she wept bitter tears, in the end, when she followed him along the sorrowful way, and as she stood beneath the cross. Our Lady weeping.

Mary’s whole life, her whole being, everything in Mary is transfigured in perfect union with her Son, with his mystery of salvation. Therefore, her tears are a sign of God’s compassion. God has compassion for us, always; and God wants to forgive us. Always! It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness. And that is why Our Lady’s tears are a sign of the compassion of God, who always forgives us with this compassion; they are a sign of Christ’s sorrow for our sins, for the evil that afflicts humanity, especially the little ones and the innocent, who are the ones who suffer.

Mary, the Mother, teaches you not to be ashamed of tears. No, we must not be ashamed to weep; on the contrary, the saints teach us that our tears are a gift, at times a grace, a penitence, a liberation of the heart. Weeping means opening up, breaking the shell we close ourselves up in, and being open to the Love that embraces us, that always awaits us to forgive us. 

Thus, is God’s heart. God waits. What does he await? Forgiveness, he waits to forgive us. He is restless, incorrigible: he wants to forgive. He asks only that we ask him for forgiveness. Opening up to the good Father is also opening up to our neighbour. Letting ourselves be tender, letting ourselves be moved by the wounds of those we encounter along the way; knowing how to share, how to welcome, how to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.

I believe that we, in our time have lost the habit of weeping ‘well’. Perhaps we cry when something happens that touches us, or when we chop an onion. But weeping that comes from the heart, the true weeping like that of Peter when he repents, like that of Our Lady… Our civilisation, our times, have lost the sense of weeping. We must ask for the grace to weep before the things that we see, not only wars but also rejection, the elderly who are rejected, children who are rejected before they have even been born… So many tragedies of rejection: that poor person who has nothing to live on is rejected; the squares, the streets are full of homeless people… The miseries of our time should make us cry, and we need to cry. There is a Mass in the Catholic liturgy to ask for the gift of tears. Ask Our Lady for this gift. And the prayer of that Mass says: “O Lord, Thou who hast brought forth water from the rock, let tears flow from the rock of my heart”. The heart of stone that has forgotten how to cry. Please, let us ask for the grace to weep. All of us.

And for this reason, Mary’s tears help us. It is important that our ego not be closed up. We must let ourselves be tender, be moved by the wounds of those we encounter along the way, know how to share, know how to welcome, know how to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

‘Our Lady of Tears’. This is beautiful! In this title there is the pastoral care of tenderness, of compassion, of closeness. This is God’s style.  We must all learn from Mary and follow Jesus, letting the Spirit form our sentiments, our desires, our plans and our actions in accordance with God’s heart.

Condensed from Pope Francis’ address to the Community of Our Lady of Tears from Treviglio, Bergamo. 23rd April, 2022

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