More on the Gift of Tears

More on the Gift of Tears

More on the Gift of Tears

Where did I first hear the saying, “I ain’t much, but I’m all I think about?” Terrible, I know. I’d like to think of myself as a man of words — but there are so many who truly have the talent and go to their own book signings. And yet I like to write. I love being able to preach as a deacon. May God be praised in every word and work of all who love him.

All this is by way of leading into a column I did on the Catholic Mom website perhaps three years ago and more. It was called The Gift of Tears and if you haven’t read it, it is found at

Now given that I am not a Lisa Hendey or a Teresa Tomeo, I don’t think any column I’ve written on this site, or any other place has generated as much feedback as the original Gift of Tears reflection. Some who wrote in response were surprised to discover that there was such a phenomenon. A phenomenon that has been and is recognized in the Church long before any words I’ve written. Some respondents just wanted to share their joy in tears. Sounds strange, I know.

In the earlier column, I talked about ‘tenderness’ when seeing a young mother and a loved baby. Other situations? My soul has been washed at Franciscan University when I am with 200 priests and deacons and we are powerfully united for Mass or Adoration. Sometimes it’s the words to songs.

One of those songs that most often does it is: I Can Only Imagine: “Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in your presence or to knees will I fall, will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?” 

As I prepare this column, it’s mid-October and the Church has us celebrate the memorial of St. Teresa of Avila. Do you have an image that comes to mind when you hear of Teresa? With me – I would have thoughts of sternness or super holiness or reform or heady books. Likely, the description ‘mystic’ would be my ending thought about this nun. But as she aged, her childhood compunction grew more into this gift of tears. She contemplated and became more aware of God’s great majesty and how terrible sin is compared to God’s great and limitless love.  I wrote about this in the first column. And in that effort, I found guidance from the saint about how much and when it’s appropriate to bask in the tears.

It would appear that St. Teresa grew into her gift. But from those who wrote to respond to my earlier column, and in other places, I’ve noted that many returnees to the Catholic Faith (often tabbed ‘reverts’) have come back to the Church with a flood of tears. Tears of gratitude. Tears of sadness at the thought of how much they gave up and didn’t get to celebrate in the years of being away from the Church and Christ’s sacraments.

In the same year that I wrote my column (which, by the way was my way of sharing what I stumbled onto about what had been happening in my own faith walk), the Our Sunday Visitor organization published a response to a question sent in by a man, and answered by Fr. Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J. D. The question and answer appeared in The Catholic Answer. And Fr. Ray was (is?) a professor at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. The writer simply asked, “What is the Gift of Tears?”

Fr. Ryland said that it is an ‘expression of the working of the Holy Spirit.’ I thought that was awesome because as often as I’ve experienced tears (during Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, sometimes at the Consecration of the Mass, and other non-liturgical settings), I’ve always felt so close — intimately close to Jesus. Fr. Ryland also said that this gift is suggestive of God’s washing away of our sins. To which I reply: “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you. Wash me clean in your mercy.” Fr. also said that a bishop connected the Gift of Tears with Gift of Tongues. I myself have not had that connective experience.

There is no forum that I am aware of for those of us who experience this gift. My sense of statistics on this is mostly personal observation. I would say that there are more women than men who report on this, but the depth of their response to the Gift of Tears is very equivalent. As stated before, more who have returned to the faith experience this gift rather than cradle believers. It would be interesting to survey a significant number of charismatics to see if many of them have experienced this in their own faith walk.

Two other quick observations by way of story and sharing. I remember seeing a man in our church who sat in silent compunction, tears streaming down his cheeks, eyes closed. He was completely free from worry about what anyone else thought. And I don’t know if he had been to confession (this was during a parish reconciliation service) or not. But the gentleman made me quite tender by his emotions. He reminded me of the Gift of Mercy that I had so recently received.

Another time when I believe I was gifted with these special tears was when we were in Rome in 2004. Among the many activities we did and had planned, we had special, up-close tickets to a general audience with Blessed John Paul II. He was quite frail and ill on that fall day. When the pope-mobile started up the ramp to come onto the platform, the Holy Father was drawing near to us and to the level we were on. The crowds had been cheering and waving scarves and all manner of things. I couldn’t help but start to cry. I think something inside of me knew I was in the presence of holy greatness. Maybe my soul recognized that a saint was quite close. I wept sweet tears with no shame; many others were crying too. The same thing happened in St. Peter’s Basilica a few days later when we attended a Mass with El Papa.

In 2009, I closed the column the way that I’d like to close this one. If you are a person with the Gift of Tears – I’d love to hear from you.


Deacon Tom

Copyright 2012 Deacon Tom Fox



About Author

Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee are co-hosts of the CATHOLIC VITAMINS Podcast for over 6 1/2 years. Tom has also been a member of the Catholic Mom columnists team for eight years, and was a regular contributor to the Catholic Moments Podcast for three years. Most recently, Deacon Tom has been leading a project to bring Catholic radio to the north central Arizona community where he and Dee reside. Blessings!


  1. Dear Deacon Tom,
    I was blessed with the gift of tears shortly after my confirmation as a teenager. This was the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit in my life and as teenager it was very confusing. Eventually, I learned part of it is compunction for our sins and the sins of those around us. Now, as an adult in mid 30’s, my tears mostly come during Mass. If I hear a song that moves my Spirit, or during the liturgy of the Eucharist, I began to cry because I am so thankful for God’s mercy and love. Approximately four years ago I was given the gift of tongues(speaking, not interpreting), so I don’t know if it is connected for everyone. I was glad to see your article of today, and I read your archived article. I am thankful for your discussion of this subject.

    • Dear Angela, it is so timely that I should come upon your wonderful thoughts. Just seconds ago I saw a post from a friend who said she was crying while watching beautiful vocation stories. I was preparing to give her a link to my original article on this subject. I am also glad to see your connection of Tears with Tongues. As you may know, all use of Tongues do not necessarily involve something that needs interpretation. On the times when my prayer/praise has turned to tongues, I am comforted to know that Jesus knows what is in my heart and there’s just too many syllables to be able to put it into my normal language. I hope that makes sense 🙂 Blessings.

  2. Shannon San Miguel on

    Thank you so much for this reflection. I have often wondered why I cry so much at mass, in adoration and most especially at my daughter’s new school. I never thought of it as the holy spirit. It makes so much sense. I was always so embarassed, trying to hide my tears. I will now accept it as a sign of God’s presence and love in my life.

    • Hello Shannon. Your words make me tender. How lovely that you are being touched in such a beautiful and tender way. Thanks for sharing about your Gift of Tears. dt

  3. I have had the gift of tears for a long time and didn’t know why or what it was exactly. When I was first married, 26 years ago, my now-ex husband told me I cried because I was so sinful and was feeling remorse for my sins whenever I cried when hearing a beautiful holy song or heard of a sad situation, etc, etc. Since then I’ve come to appreciate this great gift of tears. Thank you so much for your insight and words.

  4. I have never heard of this before today! I have had this happen several times before at our non-denominational church. It feels like God is so present, or His plan is so visible and holy, that the tears just flow down my face. I have recently been discerning a return to the Catholic faith that I was born into, and have been to a handful of masses. I cry in each and every one. At first it was the whole mass, now it is more just after the consecration. I cannot receive, so I just kneel in the pew and pray. And the tears flow the whole time. I have also had it happen with weddings, new babies, etc. It definitely makes sense that it could be the Holy Spirit, but I had never heard of this as a gift before! Thank you for opening my eyes!

  5. Dear Rachel and dear Carrie. Sabbath blessings in return. First to Rachel: if our mind & soul is more focused on our sins and our ‘missing the mark,’ – I believe those tears are related to compunction. To both Rachel and Carrie – if, in weddings, new babies, holy liturgies or powerful worship experiences, our mind and soul is aware of being a part of God’s plan and that we are seeing a foretaste of heaven – then those (I believe) are the work of the Holy Spirit. In my own case, I often have a mix of both types of emotions at the same time, so I know it can be hard to differentiate between them. It is so good to hear from both of you. I pray that more will see your words and feel that it’s okay to be bathed in the water from our tears. Blessings again. dt

  6. Eugene Vieira on

    Thanks guys for this great web-site and forum…do you guys happen to know of a priest(maybe Latin-American) who used to weep during the Consecration part of the Mass…I once saw a documentary about him and how he described it as a gift he could give back to God…Thanks if you could chase this up for me…May the Good Merciful Lord keep Blessing you’all with His Love….Amen

    • Hi Eugene. Thank you for your email and words of sharing. I’ve heard of priests who were emotional at or near the time of consecration. I wouldn’t have any idea how to chase down names, although I think St. Pio from Italy was one such. I’m sure I’ve read of others. Wish I could be more help. Blessings. deacon tom

  7. Jeanette Steiner on

    Thank you for your two postings on the gift of tears! I have been tender hearted most of my life, but I now realize the distinction (at least in my experience) between my being emotional and crying at beautiful/moving sights and a “gift of tears.”

    I can experience uncontrollable tears during contemplative prayer, at my thanksgiving after Mass, when receiving the Eucharist and occasionally during the Gospel. When it occurs during contemplation it is accompanied by an undeniable awareness of God’s presence and an overwhelming sense of loving God so much my heart feels like it could burst. All I am aware of at this moment is God’s presence, how much I love Him and how all I ever want to do is love Him. It can actually be quite embarrassing for me and I would often wish I was alone in the Church. My spiritual adviser told me that I needed to just accept that this is the time and place where God wanted me to experience this gift….so working on that.

    Also, just as a bit of background info. I am a cradle Catholic and my gift of tears, as well as a giant forward leap in my prayer life, started after going through some very challenging life events that involved me being rejected by family members, (husband and a grown child) for refusing to participate in and/or condone their sins.

    God Bless You,

    Ms. Jeanette Steiner

  8. Hi Jeanette. Thank you for your tender and open sharing about this thing that saints and holy ones have had, and which is called the Gift of Tears. The distinction you raised about the difference with emotional tears (sadness at someone’s passing, crying at a farewell, etc.) and this Gift is that in this Gift we can have the overwhelming sense of beauty and ‘right-order’ and with ‘things’ being opened to us. For example, when I’ve been in really beautiful Adoration experiences such as when the Blessed Sacrament is processed and we see people worshiping and singing and praying devoutly — it can bring me to the point of the Gift of Tears. Similarly after a deep-cleansing experience of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, etc. It is in these and other experiences where I feel this ‘being in the Presence’ as you mentioned.

    It was such a joy to see your sharing about this. Thank you so much. Blessings.


  9. Gift of Tears –
    Deacon Tom, I just started to experience the Gift of Tears more intensely. I’ve been experiencing this ‘gift’ for a long time, but I didn’t know what it was. Recently, for about three weeks, this ‘gift’ has become more often and more intense. It happens during Mass at various times. Even when I say the Rosary, especially the Sorrowful Mysteries, saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
    Lately I was at a restaurant, and I experienced an enormous amount of ‘love’ for humanity! It was so definite, and so much ‘love’ ! It lasted a couple of minutes.
    I have also been approached or invited to “forgive’ people who have hurt me.
    I’ve experienced immobilization and unable to react due to to the circumstance I was experiencing, such as praying and praising the Lord, etc.
    The Gift of tears is so intense, though. I would like some advice from you.

  10. Becky Hunter on

    I believe I have experienced the gift of tears. I have for 10 years been searching for some explanation to what I experienced. I was at church service and all of a sudden tears streamed from my eyes. These were not normal tears. It was intense and there were no emotions attached to it at all. I didn’t feel sad, happy, angry, etc. I became alarmed when the streaming tears continued for several minutes. My shirt is soaked. I left that church that day and never went back. I guess because I was embarrassed and didn’t understand what had happened to me. In my mind I knew those tears were from God or about God. I knew they originated from God. I don’t know why but I did. I felt it. But I didn’t know what all of it mean’t. What I did know is my life forever changed. I was in a very emotionally abusive marriage. After that amazing day I almost became numb to the abuse and became stronger as a person. I was able to put into action a plan to move my children and I away to another state. Within 2 years of moving I had a good job and became a home owner. Its been 9 years now and my youngest is a junior in high school. I’ve raised them on my own, with God’s guidence, love and support. Everything that has happened to me since my experience has been a journey led by God. From working at a minimum wage job to getting the career I have today, to being led on my journey to home ownership and raising the best behaved children a mother could ask for. Its all a miracle from God. I knew those tears were special and they had significance in my life. I am so happy that I finally found some information on what transpired in my life that day.

    • Dear Becky. Thank you for your beautiful and tender message. Some comments: First, I agree that one knows when this ‘gift’ is of God, rather than just pure emotion. As I said to someone recently, in the Church (and in its liturgies and sometimes in its people), we see the good, the true and the beautiful. For me, it is mostly when I see the beautiful… but sometimes also the true when I am most touched.

      I’m sorry to read of the abusive situation you were forced to endure. It is possible that this gift of tears is partly a sign of healing in your mind and heart.

      Maybe we who share this gift could get together for a (re)union – but we’d have to have a lot of tissues 🙂

      Blessings. Hugs.

      deacon tom

  11. Becky Hunter on

    Deacon Tom,

    I do believe that the gift of tears was a sign of healing my mind and heart. I’ve never experienced that type of gift of tears since. But my heart has softened so much. I do cry often with caring and loving things that i see. If I see someone praise God I am a bucket of tears. These tears are emotional for me compared to my first experience I had with the gift of tears in church service 10 years ago. And as for my mind, it healed that as well and gave me the ability to forgive.

    God Bless

  12. I never knew there was such a thing as the gift of tears. I’ve always tried not to cry during mass. Sometimes it happens when during the Gospel reading, the homily or during communion. Other times I find myself breaking into tears because I am not able to take the body and blood of Christ. I feel so miserable when that happens. I feel so very sad that sometimes I can’t even sing (I am in the church choir) … I also cry at weddings or when a baby is born or when I see people showing their love for each other. Tears come down my cheeks when I see people doing good things for other or when I imagine a world where everyone is good with each other. I usually try to keep it unless I’m alone because I don’t want people to think I’m crazy… People don’t understand that stuff truly gets to me

  13. Hi Lucy. Thanks to you as well for your open share on this beautiful gift. I’ve just started to draft a 3rd column on the Gift of Tears. Your thoughts will add to the material in this next column. My wife just sort of looks at me as I begin to get glassy eyed or tear (as in teer) up when I’m in the circumstances that trigger this. And I can tell from the way she looks at me that she doesn’t understand — just as you said. She may understand something is beautiful, or something is poignant, but to her – never to the point of tears.

    Compunction of heart is a part of my next column — and for me it has to do with the sadness inside me for the wasted aspects of my life when I see examples of others as ways that I could have lived.

    So thankful that our God is an awesome God of mercy.

    Blessings. Thanks again for your input.

    Deacon Tom

  14. Deacon Tom,
    I think there is a difference between having a tender, compassionate heart and crying easily and the actual gift of tears from the Holy Spirit. I admit I received this gift about a year ago but didn’t know what it was called or exactly what was happening to me, but then I read something recently about Pope Francis speaking about the gift of tears. Now I am seeking good, solid Catholic resources (especially a book, if there is one) about this beautiful gift. Do you know of any?

    Ironically, I found your posting while doing a google search on the subject, and I myself have recently become a blog contributor to

    About a year ago, I awoke in the middle of the night and began to weep uncontrollably. This lasted about an hour; during that time, this incredibly beautiful prayer came forth from my heart. I felt as if Our Lady was guiding my prayer to the Holy Spirit. My tears were of a deep and profound love of God, a spiritual joy and deep contrition for my sins. I simultaneously was given a gift of spiritual knowledge to understand certain things happening in my life and in a close friend’s life – things I otherwise wouldn’t have known or understood.

    Since then, this has happened to me about 2-3 additional times, all similar to the first experience. It is almost like spiritual ecstasy, a glimpse of heaven.

    If you know of any good books about this topic, I would be most grateful to know where I can find out more.

  15. I never heard of this gift till today when I carried out an internet search after crying again when this morning after receiving Holy Communion at Mass. Although a cradle Catholic, I was away from the church for a long time until about 11 years ago, and it was after I received my first communion in many years that I first had this experience. It happens to me a lot, but not all the time. Tears just pour down my face when I kneel down to pray. It really upsets my teenage son. It is comforting to read that these are signs of cleansing, renewal and forgiveness, and that makes sense in the context of my experiences. I have often wept with sorrow because of my past life and sins, but i thought that was normal in the circumstances. The tears at Holy Communion do feel like a blessing. I’m sorry I can’t be more clear.

  16. Hello Deacon Tom!
    I was raised in a large Catholic family of non-criers. Since growing up, I have stepped in and out of the church. I always considered myself Catholic, but now know I was a ‘lukewarm.’ That said, for more than a year, I have personally suffered watching my own large family break apart due to their step-father’s psychiatric issues and endured painful, daily tears. Emotional and crushed beyond words.

    Last October, I was invited to my first weekend retreat, and reluctantly went. I felt peace for the first time in a year. I knew I had never read the Bible or understood repeating the same prayers on the rosary. But I felt a strong urge to do both. After some research, I learned it was more than babbling and began meditating. My praying went from 20 minutes each night to an hour or more. In the beginning, I knew my tears were connected to my broken family, andfinally realized my children really belong to God. I found true peace when I turned them over to God. But all these months later, I find myself fighting tears at Mass, tears in Confession, tears praying the rosary, tears when I hear spiritual music, tears just thinking about our Almighty God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    My family situation doesn’t torture me any longer and I have realized I have so much to be thankful for. I just couldn’t understand why the tears and have tried hard to hide them. I’m not sure if I have the ‘Gift of Tears,’ but I feel so happy and at peace, I am ever so thankful anyway. I know I have found comfort and true love. I would appreciate your insight if you have time. God bless you!

  17. Well Julia — I am so happy to hear from you, and to give a personal observation, not knowing you personally. There are two things I think of — and which, by the way was written in the third of a series of articles here on Catholic Mom about this ‘gift.’ First – is the word ‘compunction.’ The dictionary makes compunction sound like a guilt – a guilt which is a carryover from doing something bad in our lives. Certainly sin is bad – but we Catholics who understand that sin is an offense against the love of God, we can be made tender by the after-effects of compunction. The regret for having hurt the Lord — and our actions when we were following the outward path of the Prodigal Son (or daughter).

    The other thing is that I remember quoting someone who said that the gift of tears is like being bathed by Jesus. Like a loving parent, Jesus washes the ‘dirt’ from us and we are so utterly grateful that it brings us to great tenderness. This symbolic way of considering our rejoining of God’s grace is easy for many of us to grasp. I remember a time when I had a rather direct, almost profound Confession — I had been confronted by the priest to recognize the sin I was ‘suggesting.’ I was quite tender when I came out. Truth led me to welcome the bath of Jesus’ mercy.

    Blessings dear heart. Thanks for the gift of your thoughts.

    Dcn Tom

    • Deacon Tom, do you know of any literature that explains the Gift of Tears in more detail? I’m trying to find something to read in order to learn more but have been unsuccessful in finding anything.

  18. I thought, and maybe still think, I’m going crazy. I came back to the Catholic Church after 30 years, knowing now how much I missed. I’m getting more deeply involved in my parish, altar server, eucharist minister, weeder…(keeping the Cathedral looking good) and now, Christlife Ministry. I stopped by the Tabernacle after the first Christlife meeting, and ended up sobbing in front of the Tabernacle and the choir practice people. Then, after Mass today, after thanking the Priest for a most beautiful Mass, stopped by the tabernacle and it happened. I expect to get questions tomorrow, because there were several people in front of the tabernacle. At least now I know what is going on!

    • Well Linda… I can’t say anything regarding the beginning of your comments. But I can say with a great deal of confidence that I believe some of us are gifted with souls that react to small or immense beauty around us. For many it manifests as tears. It can be different for others. If you’re going to have tears, having them in front of the tabernacle is a pretty good place to do it. Blessings. DT

  19. I started to cry years ago at communion time. My priest told me it was a gift.
    My noncatholic hairdresser told me it was healing. After 3 years of crying ,it stopped, but then something else happened which I will not discuss at the moment. After about 8 years, I just started to cry at communion again. I was going to call my spiritual director,,but decided to check the computor. Years ago I did not have one.. I am so happy I did,as now I have a even better understanding of what happened years ago and now that it has come back.
    God is good…and makes Himself known to many souls. Dolores Tighe

    • Barbara Reeves on

      I am so glad I found this, I have I guess been given the gift of weeping for such a long time. I never new it was a spiritual gift. I went for Ash Wednesday and the weeping has intensively so, especially during Communion, the moment I enter a Christian church especially my Catholic Church, that I did not know what it was so I hide because I never know when the weeping will start. I have had people ask me why I am weeping , I have to say I do not know why but the tears cannot stop. I am confused but today in prayer I asked The Lord why.

  20. Dear Barbara. So many have found ‘the’ answer to their quest about this great tenderness. The answers may be different given the path we’ve been on. It could be brought on by soul-sadness from a period of sinfullness in our lives; it could be through seeing great beauty in children or in the Church or the sacraments, etc. May God gently help dry your eyes but continue to touch you and your soul. Blessings. deacon tom

  21. Barb OBrien on

    I became catholic earlier this year and had an amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit at my confirmation. At my first communion I chewed the host and immediately realized that this felt very wrong. The next day on Easter, I decided that when I received Jesus, I would hold the host in my mouth until it dissolved so I could have Jesus with me as long as possible. As I was kneeling in the pew, my body began to tremble and the tears began to pour. This has happened to me every week at communion ever since then. At first I was embarrassed and confused by this. My husband told me he was going to have to sit in a different pew because he was getting so choked up he couldn’t sing. Other people sitting next to me will begin to cry (even men). I learned in my RCIA class that this was a gift given to me by the grace of God. I am an emotional person who can easily cry during mass because I am moved by the choir and parishioners who sing like angels or by the very thought of all these people coming together to worship our Lord. But what happens to me when Jesus is with me through Holy Communion is so different from anything else. I don’t know why this happens to me. Maybe it has to do with the forgiveness of sins, maybe it is the overwhelming gratitude for all of Gods blessings or maybe this to prepare me for the path of Gods will. I am certain that it comes to me through the Holy Spirit. I am so grateful for this precious gift, so much that I worry that it may one day end. I now cry proudly and pray that others may one day receive this most awesome gift.

    • Welcome (home) to the Catholic Church. Your opening sentence made my heart smile. As you might guess, I’m not equipped to directly comment on manifestations that people have. For example, when I’ve been at (large) Charismatic events – I’ve seen people resting in the spirit, others speaking in tongues, others making sounds… and some actually crying. What I do know is that the Spirit is the giver of gifts… most often for the benefit of the individual or for those who witness them. The Gift of Tears most often seems relegated to personal, quiet and tender manifestations. At least from my experience, my researrch and from the many who have writen to me over the recent years.

      In summarizing what others have shared — it seems that those who have had a profound and intimate experience of God’s forgiveness or His love or some special insight into a Sacrament — these are the souls most beautifully touched.

      Bless you Barb. Thanks for sharing.

      Deacon Tom

  22. Hello Deacon, my name is Christina, I converted from Mormonism to Catholicism. The night I came into the church on Easter Vigil I received the gift of tears. After that a couple years later God healed me from a lot of pain and I once again received the gift of tears, I again a few years later received healing from childhood wounds and the gift of tears came to me again. Every time I’ve ever received the gift of tears it has always came w/a profound healing. I never knew this gift had a name until my spiritual director shared with me my gift. I have received it a total of maybe 10 to 15 times in about 6 years. I am super blessed to have this gift and to be receptive to God and allow Him to bestow His mercy, graces and gifts upon me. Christs peace and Blessings be upon you all.

    • Hi Christina — your email is such a timely gift. I just came out of a powerful retreat led by a wonderful priest. His name is Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. He’s author of five books — the first of which has made a profound change in my life. It’s called 33 Days to Morning Glory. It’s a simplified 33 day personal (or group) retreat for those who wish to consecrate themselves to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I mention all this because I was touched and made tender by much of what we covered in the retreat. It gave me yet another healing.

      Which is exactly what you have encountered: new and beautiful ‘love taps’ to your soul from the Holy Spirit. And you said this has happened often to you — Jesus and His Spirit must have a ‘crush’ on you 🙂

      Thanks for sharing. I hope you found the other columns I wrote on this Gift of Tears on the Catholic Mom website.

      Blessings. Prayers.

      dcn tom

      • I also have copius tears from the first reading at mass through the peace sign. Many tears that flow. I don’t feel any emotion. Just watering eyes that flow down my face. I’m worried that those around me must think I have a cold. Every mass even a mass in a friend’s home.

  23. Dear Deacon Tom,
    I believe that I first experienced the gift of tears sometime during the course of an eight week Life In The Spirit Seminar in 1983, which was the way the Lord chose to bring me to Himself after a sinful life. I find that when ever I prayerfully place myself at the feet of Our Lord and abandon myself to Him, tears start flowing quite freely.

  24. Your wonderful email reminds me in part of the journey of St. Augustine who, after a long struggle to give up his sinful ways was bathed in the ‘baptismal’ gift of tears. And in my own journey, I’ve gone through the Life In The Spirit ‘formation’ many times — and my own Gift of Tears has been more pronounced since then.

    Thank you so much for sharing. Blessings.

    Dcn Tom

  25. Pingback: Demystifying the Gift of Tears : The Integrated Catholic Life™

  26. I have had the Gift of Tears for a very long time. Yes, it has been much more pronounced since reversion to The Faith, but it was not absent before then. (Keep in mind that many female saints experienced GofT, yet they were cradle Catholics.)

    It seems to be limited to Confession, during the sacrament itself. However, a few times the tears have occurred just afterward instead, while I say my penance. Most of the time they just come, and, as I say, during the Sacrament. Not when I’m reciting my sins; maybe that’s because then I’m really concentrating and I want to make sure I don’t forget anything; that’s an intellectually intense moment. However, sometimes the tears start when my Confessor begins giving me spiritual counsel regarding my sins, especially if he mentions the name of Jesus: That’s generally all it takes. If the priest mentions something about what Jesus wants from me or how we offend Jesus when we do X, that’s sufficient to prompt surprising tears. Perhaps that’s because I often really, really feel Christ’s presence in the confessional and through the words of the priest. Reciting my Act of Contrition is the hardest part; rarely can I get through it without stopping once or twice because I’m softly crying at those moments. My Confessor is also my Spiritual Director, and he’s very aware of what I’m going through. Holy Communion, while moving, does not move me to tears. For me, the Gift is restricted to the experience of contrition, and most often also limited to the sacrament itself. However, it does make it important that whoever my confessor is (sometimes, timing wise, I have to go to a different one), he be okay with tears. Not every priest is comfortable with tears, or (shockingly) even knows about this Gift that has a long history in Catholic spirituality, dating from Mary Magdalene but also 5th century spirituality onward. Outside of Confession, sometimes (lately) my compunction is so intense that I experience interior tears. Thank you for posting this article and discussing this topic.

  27. Dear Miriam… what a lovely reflection and share. During a penance service up in Colorado, I once saw a mid-age man who had tears streaming down his cheeks. Of course there could be any number of reasons why he was emotional — but I have definitely seen unchecked emotions associated with Reconciliation.

    I believe I’ve previously shared here and elsewhere that I can be led to wet eyes (or more) by seeing the sweet innocence of a child, a reverent young family at Mass, or even priests at Adoration. Not all the time. But once in a while. So forms of beauty can be a contingent factor in my GofT…

    Blessings. Thanks again so very much.

  28. Dear Deacon Tom,

    I found your article by googling “saint of tears and weeping” because a friend teased me that I should pray to that saint, if s/he exists. I’m an atheist who has been attending daily Mass 3-4 times a week with a friend who was widowed about 6 months ago. Started going to Mass simply to keep her company after the funeral, and now find myself enchanted by the liturgy and fascinated every time I see the Holy Eucharist.

    I notice that often when others are receiving communion, I am suddenly filled with tears, so much that it’s hard for me to keep singing the communion hymn. I think it’s because I’m imagining the Lord’s sacrifice, seeing him on the cross, amazed that any human being could give up his life for others like that.

    Anyway, a parishioner came to console me and said “don’t cry so much, you should be happy when you’re in the Lord’s presence.” What do you think? I don’t seem to be able to control my emotions when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

    • Dear Sophia… thank you so very much for your outreach and sharing.

      I am made tender when I read these comments from men and women who have experienced this ‘gift.’ But one part of your comment suggests trying to turn off the tears… tears when/where they aren’t appropriate or when they may be seen by others. For most of us who experience this – there is no ‘off’ switch. The tears come, and with them the mix of emotions and wonder. I’m hopeful that you and others will come to accept the tears as a special spiritual touch of your soul. Most of us come to see the experience as something related to beauty and tenderness. And innocence.

      You said you are an atheist. If so, perhaps talking to you about the God who is Beauty and Love and the Source of all Goodness may not (yet) work for you. But I experience His presence in the Mass and in these moments and circumstances that either bring us to our knees or to tears. My soul has been baptized by these tears many times. I think you should experience them and be thankful.


      dcn tom

  29. Dear Deacon Tom,

    Thank you for your reply. In the last several weeks that Gift has moved from Penance to the Mass itself. One can hide in the confessional, and even afterwards, saying one’s penance, because often the church is not as full as it is for a Mass. But when one is in a crowded pew, it’s much more difficult to conceal one’s tears. It’s easier for me to hold back natural tears — supernatural tears, not so much. Recently, the occasion for them has been the consecration. Again they are surprising and spontaneous and unable to be controlled in their start or their finish.

    Blessings to you,

  30. Thankyou so much for this, it has been a great consolation as I too experience this every day in mass or when saying the rosary etc.especially in praying for my children. I have returned to the church just a few months ago and am overwhelmed by the beauty and sublime mystery of the church of the holy sacraments. It is good to know others are experiencing this too and not something to be ashamed of. Thankyou.judy

    • Hello dear Judy: You are making me tender by your tender sharing. I too am a revert and have been growing in on-fire feelings about the Church, the Sacraments and about the beauty of what was there all along. May your faith grow and radiate to others.


      dcn tom

  31. Paul Morgan on

    Dear Deacon John,
    Thank you and everyone that has contibuted to this topic on tears. I am sixty eight years old and have been blessed with tears, espically during religious services. As a male, it is can be a little embarrassing, but on the other hand, so wonderful. Jesus is my Lord and Savior.

    Paul Morgan

  32. Dear Paul — thank you for having the self-assurance to share about your experience with this ‘gift.’ Not that many men have done so. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to do so. If saints and holy ones (male and female) have experienced similarly to what you’ve shared — we should be happy to do so as well.

    Blessings. Prayers. And yes, Jesus is my Lord and Savior as well. I wear a cross all the time — and a man spoke to me about my cross in an elevator the other evening. I told him it represented my ‘best friend’ and that ‘He had given His life for me.’

    deacon tom

  33. Hello Deacon Tom – thank you for writing on the gift of tears. I’m a convert of 5 years. You can watch my conversion story here if at all interested. It would seem that since “seeing” and “being” at parts of His passion, or “seeing” Him cry or “feeling” His sorrow, I cry at Mass during the consecration, after having received the Eucharist and during the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. I would say that I’m sensitive but I generally don’t cry otherwise. I feel sorrow for mankind and the many that are going to Hell, or that it’s like He died in vain for them, or for sacrilegious communions, or the general disrespect for Him and His presence in the Eucharist, or for my sin, or that He, God of the universe, humbled Himself to the extent that He did to die for me and for all of us little humans. At Mass just this past Sunday I would say that I was a bit of a mess, crying for sacrilegious communions. Peace generally comes over me, but I get quite shaken up and I will need to recollect myself for a while after Mass. I’m generally, the last one to leave a pew after Mass. I feel very attached (perhaps close) to His suffering and His passion and it makes me feel sad. I am generally outwardly joyful but sometimes I feel like maybe there’s something wrong with my faith and I wonder if I will ever feel the “joy of the Lord”? Any thoughts? Darren

  34. Hello Darren. Graces and gratitude for your rather ‘intimate’ sharing of parts of your faith journey. Like you, I would say that I’m a sensitive person. Perhaps growing more-so as I make (micro-steps of) progress in my faith journey. And perhaps you too have made significant progress and that is why your soul is more sensitive. Just weeks ago, I visited the tomb and display of the body of St. Padre Pio. He was very often tender during the Mass. His Masses would sometimes go two and three hours. Imagine that!! And there are many other saints and holy ones who have experienced some of what you’ve described.

    You end with a question about whether you will ever feel the ‘joy of the Lord?’ Are there not times when you feel happiness and joy at God’s beautiful creation? Or when thinking about the great gifts we’ve been given in the Church? I hope so. But please also see that the tenderness you have been ‘gifted with’ is also something to be joyous about. So many people in our day/time are so casual about faith or the sacraments.

    Blessings. Thanks again.

    dcn tom

  35. Dear Deacon Tom,

    I have had the gift of years since I was about 10 or 11. I’ve been a Traditional Latin Mass Cradle Catholic I guess you could say. After Vatican II my parents tried to go along with the changes but the Easter that there was a clown going down the processional isle and a band and balloons in the church my father said, that’s it, we’ll find a small Latin Mass somewhere. And we did and I am grateful to them that they did that for us, it made us strong in our Religion and our bond of family. So since was the oldest is got my own room. And once I learned about The Five Wounds of Jesus, I would kneel in front of my crucifix in my room and say the prayers for it but then contemplate the wounds and what it would feel like and how it must have broken the Blessed Mother’s heart and that it was my sins that did this to Him. And he offered Himself up willingly for my sins. And soon I couldn’t stop crying. And my mother tried to console me. But I have to this day too much empathy for Him and for His Mother. And I am a sinner I their Grace. I have had the gift of tears for a long time now. Since I was a child. I just didn’t know that there was a name for it. Thank you Deacon Tom and Bless you!

    Yours in Jesus,

  36. Dear Annemarie: Continued Easter graces and joy. It still touches my heart to read of the many ways that God’s grace brings ‘tears’ to souls. For some, it’s a certain return to Confession/Reconciliation… for some it’s a beautiful Mass or a healing service… For others, it’s the beauty of a good and holy family or a young woman who gives her life to Christ by becoming a nun. One of our dear young lady friends — someone who has stayed with us in our home is now in a monastery, giving her entire life as a Discalced (no shoes) Carmelite Nun… We might well remember to read Philippians 4:8… “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV) Blessings. I’m so happy for you and for your journey story. Dcn Tom

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