2148 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

Blessed Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be com­fort­ed” (Matthew 5:4) This is the sec­ond beat­i­tude, and it log­i­cal­ly fol­lows the first. If one is poor in spir­it, lib­er­at­ed from the spir­i­tu­al and phys­i­cal lusts of this world, he will nec­es­sar­i­ly mourn and weep over the con­di­tions of man.

The poor in spir­it know how fool­ish and sad it is to be caught by sin, to be vic­tim­ized by false­hood and evil, to be wed­ded to destruc­tion and death. View­ing the real­i­ties of this world with­out God, the world cap­ti­vat­ed by its own vain imag­i­na­tions, the world think­ing itself rich and pros­per­ous and need­ing noth­ing but in fact “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked” (Rev­e­la­tion 3:17), the spir­i­tu­al­ly poor man can only mourn. Know­ing what could be from God, and what is actu­al­ly with God, he will mourn and weep like the prophets over sin­ful Israel, like Jesus over the corpse of Lazarus and the city of Jerusalem, (John 11:35, Matthew 23:37) like Jesus Him­self in the gar­den, con­front­ed by His own cup of suf­fer­ing which was so sense­less and cruel.

Blessed mourn­ing for sin is essen­tial to the spir­i­tu­al life. But in the vic­to­ry of Christ, it is not mor­bid or joy­less. On the con­trary, it is filled with hope, with glad­ness and with light.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were griev­ed, but because you were griev­ed into repent­ing; for you felt a god­ly grief, so that you suf­fered no loss through us. For god­ly grief pro­duces a repen­tance that leads to sal­va­tion and brings no regret, but world­ly grief pro­duces death. For see what earnest­ness this god­ly grief has pro­duced in you… (2 Corinthi­ans 7:9–11)

In his writ­ings, Saint John Cli­ma­cus (7th c.) fol­lows this teach­ing of Saint Paul. It is the clas­si­cal teach­ing of the Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al tra­di­tion. The end of blessed mourn­ing is not despon­den­cy or remorse, it is repen­tance and sal­va­tion. It is the “mourn­ing which caus­es joy.”

Mourn­ing, accord­ing to God, is sad­ness of soul and the dis­po­si­tion of a sor­row­ing heart which ever mad­ly seeks for that which it thirsts …

Mourn­ing is a gold­en spur in a soul which is stripped of all attach­ment and all ties …

Keep a firm hold of the blessed joy-grief of holy mourn­ing and do not stop work­ing at it until it rais­es you high above the things of this world and presents you pure to Christ.

The fruit of mor­bid mourn­ing is vain glo­ry and self-esteem, but the fruit of blessed mourn­ing is comfort.

He who is clothed in blessed and grace-giv­en mourn­ing… knows the spir­i­tu­al laugh­ter of the soul.

My friends, God does not ask or desire that man should mourn from sor­row of heart, but rather out of love for Him he should rejoice with spir­i­tu­al laughter.

When I con­sid­er the actu­al nature of com­punc­tion, I am amazed at how that which is called mourn­ing and grief should con­tain joy and glad­ness with­in it, like hon­ey in the comb. (The Lad­der of Divine Ascent, Step 7)

So do not make a pas­sion the rem­e­dy against pas­sion,” says Saint Nilus of Sinai, “lest you anger… Him who grant­ed you this bless­ing (of mourn­ing and tears). For in shed­ding tears for their sins many peo­ple for­get the pur­pose of tears, and get­ting into a fren­zy, they go astray.” (Saint Nilus of Sinai, 5th c., Texts of Prayer)