Vatican Corner 03-01-2020

At his Wednesday General Audience on February 12, 2020, Pope Francis discussed the second of the eight beatitudes, those eight blessings and teachings made by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, found in the Gospel of Matthew (5:3-11). The second beatitude is – Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Pope Francis said mourning can have two aspects, “for death or for the suffering of someone” and also for the “tears shed over sin – for our own sin, when the heart bleeds for the pain of having offended God and one’s neighbor.” Francis said mourning “is an inner pain that opens (us) up to a relationship with the Lord and with one’s neighbor, and it renews those relationships. Regarding the death and suffering aspect he said it is “a question of loving the other in such a way that we are bound to him or her until we share his or her pain… it is important that others make a breach in our hearts. Some have a heart of stone and have forgotten how to weep.It is necessary to reawaken people who do not know how to be moved by the pain of others.” While mourning is bitter, it can “open one’s eyes to life and to the sacred and irreplaceable value of each person, and at that moment one realizes how short time is.” Regarding the other aspect of mourning, that of being over sin, the evil done, and the betrayal of the relationship with God. “It is difficult but vital” to face one’s own errors, and come to the grief of repentance. St. Peter wept after denying Jesus the three times before the rooster crowed, “leading him to a new and far truer love. They were tears which purify and renew.” On the other hand Judas Iscariot “did not accept that he had made a mistake and, poor man, took his own life.” As a reward for mourning, the Lord promises that mourners will be comforted. They will receive forgiveness of sins, and through this will receive internal peace, joy and blessedness. Pope Francis said he has often spoke about the gift of tears and how precious it is. He referred to St. Ephrem the Syrian’s saying that “a face washed with tears is unspeakably beautiful.” Francis exclaimed the beauty of penitence, the beauty of tears, the beauty of contrition.” Scientists have studied tears and found they are mostly made of water, but also contain salt, fatty oils, and over 1,500 different proteins. There are three different types of tears. Basal tears are always in the eyes to protect them from debris and keep them lubricated and nourished. Reflex tears form when the eyes are exposed to irritants, such as onion fumes, smoke, and bright light. Emotional tears are produced when feeling sad, happy, or other intense emotions. Tears spread across the surface of your eye when you blink and drain into small holes in the corners of your lids and through small channels to your nose. When you cry producing many tears they mix with mucus in your nose, making your nose run. A person produces 15 to 30 gallons of tears every year. Scientists think that crying is a social signal to get help from others when one is in pain, sad, or feeling distress or extreme emotion. Often crying will prompt others to offer support, which makes one feel better. Emotional tears contain additional proteins and hormones that aren’t found in the other two types of tears. These may have relaxing or pain-relieving effects that help regulate the body and help return it to its normal state. The benefits of crying are well documented.