Tears of repentance, their flowers and their fruit

THE transgression of the commandment provoked the Fall, which is the separation of man from God, and “from everything that is of God”. God accepted our repentance and conversion and submission to the divine will, restoring our relationships with his own love and goodness.

The most acceptable form of repentance, according to the Fathers, is fervent tears, which well up from pain of heart, feeling the abominable guilt and betrayal of God’s fatherly love. If these tears are not stemmed [lit. eroded] out of conceit and neglect, they will be changed into something spiritual and painless by grace, just as flowers are succeeded by fruits.

His feeling that “there shall be time no longer” (Rev 10:6), a fruit of and itself the remembrance of death, prolongs our struggle throughout the reconciliation with God, in fear lest the end come before the Lord hears our crying, and sends us his mercy.

After the tears of repentance follows, in a manner above nature, a sense of the love of God, which does not depend upon thought or reflection or invention from someone outside, but comes as a natural consequence of finding what was lost, or better, as a returning of what was wandering to its own home.

Then active solicitude towards his neighbour awakes, in which a man feels the stranger’s pain as his own, and wishes to weep for all, and wants, if possible, the pain of all human kind to be heaped upon him, and that all who suffer should be well.

Elder Joseph Vatopaidinos. Original at Γέροντες της Εποχής Μας.


THROUGH fear of the Jews Peter, your friend and neighbour, denied you, Lord; and in bitter grief he cried out: Do not pass by my tears in silence, compassionate Master; for I said I would keep faith, but have not kept it. Accept our repentance too, and have mercy on us.

From the Royal Hours on Holy and Great Friday. Translation from Anastasis.