Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why I Cry

***I recently realized that comments have been disabled in this blog since I started it. I've enabled them now.***

As I've grown in my Catholic faith over the years, I've discovered that I cry more. One of the youth leaders at my parish pokes fun at me for it, especially when I tear up while listening to "In Christ Alone," and I always have to frantically explain the whole thing. So first of all, let's be clear: I'm not saying that crying is one of those prerequisite results of growing in faith, and no, I'm definitely not saying that being a Catholic makes you a pansy (on the contrary, being a Catholic makes you a badass).
Case in point.
What I am trying to say is that as I've grown as a Catholic, I've learned more about what I truly yearn for, and what I am ultimately made for.

Why do we cry, emotionally? I find it to be a peculiar reaction to certain situations. When most people think of crying, they think of it as the response to something sad - the death of a loved one, a missed opportunity, the break-up of a long-term relationship. But what's interesting is that we not only cry when we are extremely sad, but also when we are extremely happy. Yes, on one level, we say that we cry because we are overtaken by our emotions and we just have to "let it out." But to what are these emotions pointing us? I think it is in those extremely sad and happy times that we realize and remember that we were made for Something More. We were made for Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. We were made for God.

Whenever something terrible has happened in my life, tears have come. But what followed the tears were thoughts and ideas, wishes and hopes, as well: "God...I wish this never happened," or "Imagine if we never had to experience pain," or "I don't want to be alone" or simply, "I want to be happy."And this makes enough sense. We want to move away from the bad, and enter into the good. The fact that we're face to face with pain and suffering makes us recognize that at the core of our being, we want Happiness. This yearning for Happiness extends far beyond the pain and suffering in this world. In fact, it extends far beyond the joys and elations of this world as well. Imagine receiving a really thoughtful gift, or watching your best friend get married. In those situations, emotions swell and tears flow. As happy and as joyous as you could be in those circumstances, something inside of us tells us that this is still just the tip of the iceberg. We want to move away from the good, and enter into the best. Even though we can't possibly concretely fathom it, something exists for us that far exceeds our expectations, and that 'something' is Being itself: The Trinity.

The first time that youth leader at my parish found out about my crying, it had to do with us singing "In Christ Alone" at a Confirmation mass. I confessed that I had never gotten through the whole song in private without at least one tear finding its way down my cheek (if I couldn't even get through singing the song publicly, well...jeez). Listen to it. It's beautiful. It goes through all the main points of our faith, finally erupting with the final verse and chorus:

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry, to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me Home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

Those last two lines always get me. Always. It's in those last two lines that I am reminded the most of where my life is headed. By one road or another, all through the power of Christ, I am called to live in communion with the Trinity, who is Communion itself.

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. God is all of those, and we long for Him. It's why I don't think there will be any crying in heaven - even the "I am so happy and emotional that I can't help myself but cry" type of tears. In Heaven, amidst the Beatific Vision, we won't have need to yearn for anything anymore. We will be where we want to be. So go ahead - shed a tear, and thank God for this beautiful truth that He has shown to us.

"He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away" (Revelation 21:6)."