For Pope Francis, tears are a sign of God’s compassion, of Christ’s pain.
My ministry of accompaniment is with women in prison, a ministry in which I have served for over 25 years. Only when I was able to weep about the things I have lived through, could I understand and respond to hearing Jesus’ voice, ‘come out of your tomb.’
Over the years in my ministry, I have experienced that those who suffer, need not only help, but tears. We come together for our Sunday liturgy in the chapel, so that we can pray together and offer to God, not only everything that causes us pain, but everything that gives us hope, and we accept the tears that flow from the heart of our stories.
Through listening to the word of God and from our prayers, we pray out loud, the women can weep for what they have done. For the betrayal of relationships with God and their families, which brings them to tears and an awareness the hurt caused to the ones they love. This grieves them to tears, no wonder Jesus weeps! It is only when he weeps, that is he able to understand our dramas.
We pray that God’s response to our tears is hope, hope for eternal life. When I relate so intimately with strangers, that I can weep over their sorrows, a deep sense of peace is created in me. Touching and tasting the pain of the women in prison, the tears we shed together, helps water this deep sense of peace.
With thanks to Margaret Wiseman from JISA Canisius, for this contribution to the JISA Discernment Series. Margaret is an Ignatian Spiritual Director, a giver of the Spiritual Exercises, and a chaplain at Sydney’s Silverwater Women’s Prison. She is a devoted mum and grandma and has just become a great grandma!