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Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

What Is the Gift of Tears?

Mike Hayes Answers:

Question: I am 17 and sometimes at mass or adoration, I get teary – eyed. I asked a priest about it and he said it was the gift of years. He explained it a little bit, but I want to know why people experience it at different ages. I don’t feel like I’ve reached spiritual maturity to receive this.

I think you misheard your priest, I’m sure he was saying the gift of TEARS.

Tears are actually a biological release triggered by a strong emotional experience. They are the body’s way of providing relief.

In church parlance, a strong experience of God can be so overwhelming that tears flow. I know this has been the case in my own life. I often don’t feel this coming on until it happens and then I’m not actually sure why tears are flowing, I just know that they are.

People of all ages can experience this. It is usually a sign that you are experiencing God working in your life in an intimate way.

Ignatius of Loyola often said we should pray for the gift of tears. That we should be moved beyond our usual emotions when experiencing God in our life that it overwhelms us. He even called for us to consider our sinfulness and to be overcome not by guilt, but by God’s overwhelming love in forgiving us. We cry because we know that we are “loved-sinners.”

As a public speaker, I sometimes find myself in the position of being overwhelmed in the midst of a talk or reflection that I am doing. I find the best course of this is to be honest about it. To admit that you’re not sure why tears are coming but that it’s usually a sign that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in the moment.

Since tears are a physical response, you can also try a physical response to them to try to bear the intensity by pressing into your chair with your sitz bones, or sitting bones–or even just clenching your gluteus can sometimes stop the flow of tears.

The Author : Mike Hayes
Mike Hayes is the senior editor for the Googling God section at BustedHalo.com.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • suzanne Griffiths

    I also experince the gift of tears but have never understood it till know . It always made me slightly embaressed and fearful of it when I was younger but after reading this page it makes a lot of sense. My first experince was when I was about 13. I attended a Padria Pio meeting in a local Church, I had nothing on my mind and I didnt feel down about anything but once inside the Church emotion washed over me and I started to cry uncontrollabley, I was very embarrased but could not stop. I felt a sense of guilt and I was not werthy. A Nun. came over and told me it was the gift of tears and from that day I have experinced this particually at Mass. I am know 42 and finely I am starting to understand.

  • Becky

    I had an experience with the gift of tears. I have been looking for over 10 years trying to find an explanation to what I experienced. I was at church service and all of a sudden, without any emotional response, my eyes filled with tears and they just poured out. It wasn’t normal crying. I didn’t have any emotion attached to it at all. They poured and poured. My shirt was completely soaked. I can say that I was shocked after they continued for several minutes and became alarmed because I didn’t understand it. I left that church that day and didn’t return because of my insecurities about what happened and it has taken me all these years to finally answer my questions as to what happened that day. I knew it was from God. I felt that but now I have more insight on my experience. Praise God for that day. It changed my life. At that time in my life I was hurting and after that day I was numb to all the emotional pain I was experiencing and the strength that I recieved from God that day gave me the strength to take my children out of a bad situation and move on to a very blessed life. Thank you God!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lila.pantazis Lila Pantazis

    because it is both a Gift and a physiological release…..I would say, let it flow! Trying to put tension INTO your body by strong muscle contraction or other physiological diversion is Counter-productive! Let it flow thru you and overflow, if necessary! (as a health care provider) it’s better for your body and, I believe, more abandoned to God. Sorry I had to disagree with you on that one, Mike! It might seem like an inconvenient blessing, but it is as it ought to be :-)

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