A Mary Moment Monday post

I hate crying. As a certified (and probably certifiable) ENTJ, I hate the fact that I have this tendency to…cry. I don’t mind it in others; I can even see it as a beautiful expression of the moving of that person’s heart. I don’t mind sentimentality so much in other people. In myself, though…well, I don’t like it. At all.

Especially in Mass. Or when a priest talks. (Seriously. Priests touch my heart. It is beautiful…and embarrassing.)

In the last nine years since becoming Catholic, I have cried more than I ever cried before. The tears just seem to slip out, to slide down my face. Then my nose gets in on the action and, well, it only gets worse.

I was complaining about mentioning this on Twitter and Facebook before Friday night’s Meet-n-Greet (which was part of the Catholic New Media Celebration). My five-year-old daughter, who had been crying when I left her at the airport, was expecting to talk to me via the uStream. I was thinking of singing her a lullaby, except that the thought that I might get choked up. I knew, in fact, that I would get choked up.

One of my dear friends (who’s been wise in this space before) made a comment I’ve been thinking of ever since:

Smiling that you said crying is private. God created us to cry publicly, right on our faces. Maybe He had a good idea. Besides, just do a disclaimer at the beginning about tears being possible. Everyone loves you and knows how deeply you feel about things. That’s part of why we love you. [Emphasis mine.]

I thought of that when I was sitting at the CNMC during Fr. Roderick’s opening prayer. I thought of it when I used the last of my napkins during Fr. Reed’s keynote address. I thought of it when I was praying in the Adoration chapel (and missing most of Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s remarks).

I thought of it at Mass yesterday, holding my husband’s hand, feeling the joy of the Eucharist, reveling in both the experience of the weekend and the comfort of being home.

I was crying at each of those times. Tears came: unbidden, unwanted, unexpected.

Mark Shea commented, when I was moaning talking about my propensity toward tears before dinner Saturday night, that I should be thankful for them.

And, even though I know that tears are a gift, I can’t seem to believe it when I’m in the middle of crying and snotting at Mass. Even though I know they’re coming, even though it’s almost like watching the radar and predicting a big storm in two hours, I never fail to be both surprised and dismayed by their appearance.

Some people maintain there’s a strength in crying. I can tell you that, when I cry, I do not feel strong. I do not feel anything except small, humble, open. When I think of that cocktail of experience, I realize that there’s a cleansing in the crying that I will continue to need until I beat down the ego that keeps me from receiving God and His grace.

Tears are powerful…and they are uncomfortable. Even though I’m a frequent cry-er, I’m never at ease with my wet face and dripping nose.

This is yet another chance for me to turn to Mary. She’s invoked as Our Lady of Tears, and maybe there’s a reason that the rosary of Our Lady of Tears came into my life.

Maybe, when I’m sniffling and snuffling at Mass and trying to find a way to remember to keep tissues in my purse, I can think of Mary, tears sliding down her face as she watches her children on earth stumble and struggle with daily life. Maybe, when I’m wishing I didn’t have to hide in the restroom to get a hold of myself, I can say a prayer for the mother who buried a child, for the wife facing her husband’s daily health struggle, for the daughter seeking her father. Maybe, when I’m most resentful of the tears that accost me unawares, I can give them to Mary, so that she can wash her Son’s feet and turn my pitiful disconsonance into something beautiful for Him.

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