Michael J. McClymond
“Tears of Sorrow and of Joy: Conviction, Compunction, Compassion and the Continuity of Divine and Human Affectivity”
Ancient Eastern authors (Orthodox, Coptic, Syriac) had much to say on the theme of penthos (holy sorrow or compunction over sin), not as a sacramental requirement but as the self’s lifelong disposition before God. John Cassian linked compunction to joy, to the Holy Spirit, and to what he called "fiery prayer” – thus conjoining compunction with spiritual vitality. John Climacus spoke paradoxically of "joy-bearing grief." This essay will draw on ancient Eastern and Anglo-Saxon authors (e.g., John Featley), and offer a pneumatological reading of compunction as a question of human participation in the Holy Spirit's own sorrow, joy, indignation at sin, etc. It will close with a consideration of God’s regret or sorrow as foundational to the human experiences of conviction for sin, compunction over sin, and compassion for sinners.