OLD AGE: A time of grace

Is there an elderly person who is the light of your life? If not, perhaps there is a potential adoptive grandparent whose heart is aching for someone like you.

It just so happens that when praying my morning prayers recently, I read these words: “Lord, we entreat you to help us. Come to the aid of the afflicted, pity the lowly, raise up the fallen, show your face to the needy, heal the sick, convert the wayward, feed the hungry, deliver the captives, support the weak, encourage the fainthearted. Let all nations know that you alone are God; Jesus Christ is your Son, and we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.”

A further search for inspiration on this subject brought me to a selection from St. John Paul in his letter to families (Feb. 2, 1994) and a quote from Pope Francis about respect for the elderly. They reminded me to express gratitude to those who not only love the aged but also to compel all people to act as mentors toward our needful seniors.

Then Pope John Paul II said, “Honoring older people involves a threefold duty: welcoming them, helping them and making good use of their qualities. In many places this happens almost spontaneously, as the result of long-standing custom. Elsewhere, and especially in the more economically advanced nations, there needs to be a reversal of the current trend, to ensure that elderly people can grow old with dignity, without having to fear that they will end up no longer counting for anything. There must be a growing conviction that a fully human civilization shows respect and love for the elderly, so that despite their diminishing strength, they feel a vital part of society. Cicero himself noted that “the burden of age is lighter for those who feel respected and loved by the young.”

Pope Francis said, “I feel close to the many elderly people who live in these institutions, and I think with gratitude of those who go to visit them and take care of them.”

“Old age, in particular, is a time of grace,” said Pope Francis, “in which the Lord will renew his call: he calls us to preserve and transmit the faith, calls us to pray, especially to intercede; calls us to be close to those who may be in need.”

He added that when the elderly – especially grandparents – pray in times of difficulty, “their prayer is strong. It is powerful.”

And finally, my search brought me to very challenging words by our future St. Mother Teresa: “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?’”

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.




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