Tears of Holy Longing

By Melissa Hanks

In talking to my friends about the beautiful gift of adoration this past weekend, one mentioned the tears of holy longing that filled her car as Fr. Viet passed by with the monstrance containing our Blessed Sacrament. I have really dwelt on this since reading those words. How fitting that we celebrated on Palm Sunday, going into Holy Week. As so many have said lately, we are living Lent in a way that echoes the very first Holy Week.

The tears of holy longing. 

How much our experience must echo the feelings of our Blessed Mother and Christ’s apostles during that very first Holy Week, beginning with their Last Supper with Our Lord. Spending time with their beloved friend and Lord as He instituted the Eucharist for the sake of us all. They followed this wondrous experience with having their dear friend arrested and taken from them. They did not know what was really about to happen, though Christ often foretold His fate. They did not know what lied ahead of them, only that their Lord was gone, in the hands of enemies who hated Him.

The tears of holy longing.

My grief and joy upon seeing the Blessed Sacrament again in person was sudden. Tears flowed as I gazed upon Our Lord who had died for us and who was residing in the beautiful monstrance for the moment. I missed receiving Communion so badly. It had been close to a month since we were last able to attend Mass, naively expecting each following weekend to be similar, expecting that we could take the availability of our Blessed Lord for granted. I don’t remember in my adult life taking the Eucharist lightly, but now we know the great longing that many martyrs and saints have felt in waiting for their next Holy Communion in the Church. In the weeks since the quarantine began, I have twice driven to the Church parking lot to adore Our Savior, for while I know I cannot go in, I do know that within those four walls, He still dwells, loving us from afar. My longing for Him was only slightly relieved by sitting in the car knowing He was there.

The tears of holy longing.

How the Apostles and Mother Mary must have grieved Jesus, missing Him in their lives. Those who were brave walked Calvary with Him, sharing in His pain. How disheartened they must have been to walk away from their Beloved after He died on the cross. I think of the tears of holy longing that our Blessed Mother must have felt. I cannot imagine the pain of seeing a child that you bore tortured, and murdered at the hands of the ignorant. How she must have ached to hold Him again, to hear His laugh and see His smile. She knew what was to come, but surely Mary grieved the loss of her dear son. 

The tears of holy longing.

I hole up in my home with my family, hoping we will remain safe. The desire to attend Mass again deep on each of our hearts. We hold our first prayer service provided by the Archdiocese, and my daughter says, “Mommy, I don’t want to just pray. I want to receive Jesus, in the Eucharist.” Me too, darling, me too. How I long for that day! But today, we will fulfill a spiritual communion and look forward to that day. 

As Fr. Viet headed inside to return the Eucharist to the tabernacle, I sobbed. My mind cried, “ Jesus come back. Don’t leave us!”

The tears of holy longing.

Following Christ’s death on the cross, the apostles went to the upper room and hid. They were afraid of what was to come and did not know if they too would suffer a similar fate. Hiding in fear, they waited to know that the world was going to be okay. They clung to each other, and pondered their Lord who felt so lost to them. Tears of holy longing surely clung to their faces. How could they not long for the presence of their friend and His stabilizing Love? “Jesus come back. Don’t leave us!”

But friends, this isn’t the end! Our Lord suffered this death for us. He remained apart for three days, meanwhile the Apostles wondered and grieved over their loss. If this was the end of the story, we would not be crying our own tears today. Jesus overcame the grave so that we may one day be in heaven with Him. The Apostles who cried in the upper room, were greeted by their Beloved, and were overcome with joy, knowing that God’s mercy never fails. His perfect love did not end. Many of those same Apostles, who had been quivering with fear, did go on to valiantly die similar deaths as Jesus Christ. They did so because they knew. They KNEW that God had won the fight. They proceeded to go out into the world and tell the Good News, because they no longer feared what was to come. 

Cry the tears. They are a gift from God Himself. They represent the deep faith that you possess, knowing that Our Lord and Savior is truly in the Eucharist. Know that one day, our moment to go into the world bearing the Good News will exist. Pray for those who are alone in their own tears. May they receive consolation. One day, we will once again be united with Him, our Beloved. The joy that we will feel! The tears of reunification that we will cry as once again as Jesus Christ dwells within our selves!

As I drove away on the most recent visit to the parking lot, I could see the red tabernacle light shining through the darkened church. Christ is still there, with us, though we cannot see Him. And He anxiously awaits being united with us once again.


  1. Melissa this is so beautiful. This totally describes what my heart and mind are feeling right now. The emptiness and the longing, knowing he is right there and I can’t be with him.

  2. Thank you for this beautiful reflection, I thought I was the only one crying in my car. God Bless you and your family.

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