Sunday, August 29, 2010

Water quenches a flaming fire.

Tears of repentance, loving tears born of love.
Today's first reading on humility from the Book of Sirach read at Mass today, concludes with the verse, "Water quenches a flaming fire, and alms atone for sins." - Sirach 3:29  I can't recall where I read it, but I think the desert fathers may have interpreted "water quenches a flaming fire" as tears of repentance or compunction which in turn extinguish the flames of our passions.  And since the solitary is "too poor to help the poor" with material alms, I think charity expressed through prayer becomes his alms - thus atoning for sins by that means.  As the last monk in the video on my former post stated, "nothing can purify one more than prayer" - although I think suffering does so just as well, if not better for some of us.  "Prayer is good, but suffering is better" as Mother Mary Electa of Christ, OCD once said.
"I had prayer of the heart, but I lost it."
At the end of the video, the holy father told the interviewer he had once attained prayer of the heart but lost it, "due to my unworthiness."  The monk would of course tell us that this prayer, like all the contemplative stages of prayer we in the West identify as infused prayer, is sheer grace - it is a gift from God.  As we hear in today's Gospel, it would seem all are invited, but not all are given the ultimate or highest stage of prayer - whether one defines it as prayer of the heart or the prayer of union.  Like the monk in the video, some have tasted or experienced this prayer, but for some reason or another - often through self exultation and pride or even serious sin - end up losing it.  In that case, but for the grace of God we can once again find ourselves back in the lowest place - like the unfortunate fellow in the Gospel.
All is not lost of course, since it is good to be humbled, to be found amongst the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and those "too little to make their own living", as St. Therese would say;  "because everyone who humbles himself will be exalted."  - Luke: 14: 7-14
There is great consolation in religion, provided one is content with a sufficiency.


  1. I've celebrated a series of Masses, at the request of a particular directee, for the "gift of tears" for the members of their prayer group(there actually are a series of prayers in the EF for this particular intention).
    Some very powerful answers to prayer have come of this;
    "tears of repentance"...what a wondrous gift!

  2. That is beautiful Father - I forgot there are prayers for that.

  3. A woman’s tears contain a perfume that is not easily detected.

    The more the emotional state of a woman crying, the more strength this perfume acquires.

    When Saint Mary Magdalene entered the rich man’s house and began wiping our Lord’s feet with her tears and hair, she was following a tradition among the Jews; when you entered someone’s home as a guest, the host would wash your feet.

    The Sinner did this.

    Christ smelled the strong perfume of her tears, and knew she was deeply moved to contrition and repentance. He forgave her much because she loved much. You cannot repent without first loving God.

    She is the only one Christ encountered during His three year ministry that repented.

    When the Church sheds its tears, our Divine Master is moved to swift action.

    Italians used to hire old ladies to come cry at the funerals of relatives; they knew the tears of these righteous women of prayer would get the Lord’s attention.

    God bless the little old ladies that hold fast to Tradition.

    To be found amongst the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and those "too little to make their own living” does us no good unless we are serving them.

    Our money, our clothes, our food and shelter should belong to the poor.

    If you do not give to the poor as you would to a Holy Angel should he appear to you, then you are cheating the ‘Boss’; you are robbing from God.

    Throwing money in the collection basket doesn’t count.

    Even the pagans give to support their temples.



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