False Tears

A Monk Had Untrue Tears

Saints Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet. "Letters".

St Barsanuphius the Great (6th cent.)

Letter 461.

A brother asked the Great Old Man: “Tell me, father, whether the compunction that I think I possess is genuine, and whether I should live here on my own. Also, pray for me because I am troubled by bodily warfare.” Response by Barsanuphius.

Brother, your weeping and compunction are not genuine at this time; rather, they come and go. For genuine weeping, which comes with compunction, becomes like a servant submitted to us without separation; and a person who possesses this does not experience warfare. It even wipes away one’s former faults and washes away all spots. Moreover, in the name of God, it continually protects the person who has acquired it. It also expels laughter and distraction, while at the same time unceasingly maintaining one’s mourning. For weeping is a large shield that deflects all of the fiery arrows of the devil. The person who possesses it experiences absolutely no combat, whether that person is with others or even with prostitutes! [Such a gift] is always with us and fights for us.

So I have demonstrated for you the sign of weakness and of courage. Do not think that God could not relieve you from the battle; for he could indeed have relieved you, especially for the sake of the saints who were praying for you. Nevertheless, because he loves you, God wants you to be trained through many battles and exercises in order to reach the measure of good repute. And you cannot reach this point unless you keep all that I have commanded you through my letters, vainglorious teacher that I am. As for staying by yourself, this is a very special gift. When it comes to you, I shall inform you about this myself. Apply yourself now, child, as I have told you, and I believe that you will find progress in Christ. Do not be afraid. May the Lord be with you. Amen.

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The Ladder about False Tears

St. John of Sinai. "The ladder of Divine ascent".

St. John of Sinai. (VI-VII cent.)

Step 7. On mourning which causes joy.

29. When we see anger and pride in those who seem to be mourning in a way pleasing to God, then their tears are to be regarded as a repugnant to God. For what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians vi, 14.)

30. The fruit of morbid compunction is self-esteem, and the fruit of meritorious compunction is consolation.

31. Just as fire is destructive of straw, so are pure tears destructive of all material and spiritual impurity.

32. Many of the Fathers say that the question of tears, especially in the case of beginners, is an obscure matter and hard to ascertain, as tears are born in many different ways. For instance, there are tears from nature, from God, from adverse suffering, from praise worthy suffering, from vainglory, from licentiousness, from love, from the remembrance of death, and from many other causes.

33. Let us, stripped by the fear of God, train ourselves in all these ways, and acquire for ourselves pure and guileless tears over our dissolution. For there is no dissimulation or self-esteem in them, but on the contrary there is purification, progress in love for God, washing away of sin and the sublimation of the passions to dispassion.

34. It is not surprising if mourning begins with good tears and ends with bad. But it is praiseworthy if reprehensible and natural tears are sublimated to spiritual tears. People inclined to vainglory understand this problem clearly.

35. Do not trust your fountains of tears before your soul has been perfectly purified. For wine cannot be trusted when it is drawn straight from the vats.

68. Our enemies are so wicked that they turn even the mothers of virtues into the mothers of vices, and those things which make for humility, they make into a cause for pride. Frequently the very setting and sight of our dwellings are of a nature to rouse our mind to compunction. Let Jesus, Elijah and John who prayed alone convince you of this. I have often seen tears provoked in cities and crowds to make us think that crowds do us no harm and so draw nearer to the world. For this is the aim of the evil spirits.

This article in Russian