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The wisdom and experience of the elderly

By Sean O'Donnell - 10 December, 2017

Our grandparents are also our teachers, yet in our consumerist society, the needs of older people are often ignored and forgotten. Pope Francis in his prayer intention for December reminds us that the Lord does not forget anyone. “The Lord never discards us. He calls us to follow Him in every age of life, and old age has a grace and a mission too, a true vocation from the Lord. Old age is a vocation”.

St Therese referred to her vocation as a vocation to love. Elderly people have a vocation too. The vocation is one of love and service through which they share their wisdom, experience and love. But do we allow them to live out this much needed vocation? Retiring from official employment does not mean retiring from life!

For the older generation who might not have grandchildren, Pope Francis said at a special Mass last June that the older generation is called to be “spiritual grandparents” to young people.

At a General Audience in March 2015, Pope Francis recalled how he was really moved by the “Day dedicated to the Elderly” in St Peter’s Square in 2014. The Square was full. “I listened to the stories of elderly people who devote themselves to others, and to stories of married couples, who said: “We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, we are celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary”. It is important to present this to young people who tire so easily; the testimony of the elderly in fidelity is important. There were so many in this Square that day.”

He urged them to talk with their grandchildren about the faith. “And talk to your grandchildren, talk. Let them ask you questions,” he said. They may be different from you, they may have other hobbies, “they like other music… but they need the elderly, this ongoing dialogue.”

Pope Francis continued, “The prayer of grandparents and of the elderly is a great gift for the Church, it is a treasure! A great injection of wisdom for the whole of human society: above all for one which is too busy, too taken, too distracted. Someone should also sing, for them too, sing of the signs of God, proclaim the signs of God, pray for them! Let us look to Benedict XVI, who chose to spend the final span of his life in prayer and listening to God! This is beautiful!”

There can be no doubt that Pope Francis has placed great emphasis on the role of the elderly and of grandparents in society. Let us pray with him “that the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming new generations.”

The Pope video for December can be seen here,  https://www.catholicireland.net

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