Lombardi editorial: praise for old age

2012-11-17 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Federico Lombardi, SJ, has issued his weekly editorial. This week, Fr. Lombardi, SJ has chosen to focus on the challenges and blessings associated with old age. Please find Vatican Radio's translation, below.


The Pope’s visit to a home for the elderly last Monday is certainly one of those happy moments when a great number of people can easily perceive that the gestures and words of the Holy Father constitute a valuable message: not only for the small group of privileged people who have been able to meet him in person, but for everyone. An elderly person among the elderly, Benedict XVI addressed his peers with spontaneity by saying that “[He] knows the difficulties, problems and limits of this age well.” Unlike his predecessor’s, and that of many other elderly people, Pope Benedict’s old age has not been accompanied by debilitating illness. This does not mean, however, that the Pope does not understand the challenges inherent in growing old and living in old age. He explains one of the great challenges and opportunities that old age presents people who are fortunate enough to reach it, is that of learning serene and patient acceptance of its limits: by always knowing that one is loved by God. The Holy Father also believes that old age offers the opportunity to share with others of the wisdom of life. He said that seniors, “[Can be] like an open book where young generations can find precious directions for the journey of life.” It is not, therefore, a question of seeking artificially to fill the time of old age with things to do. Rather, the great thing is to communicate a kind of wisdom of the heart that is capable of distinguishing what is essential from what is secondary, what is enduring from what is passing. In some ways – especially when one really is suffering – old age is the moment of truth, the one where, as Romano Guardini wrote, “The contingent reveals the absolute.” The Pope asks his fellow seniors to pray for the poor, for peace, for an end to violence, for the Church, for him – and this a powerful prayer because the elderly person who believes and hopes, knows he is closer to the Lord and to the Saints, more familiar with them; the line of passage becomes more and more transparent. We have a great need of our seniors, and we know they are a huge asset. We have a duty to care for them lovingly, so that they we can all say with truth, together with the Pope: “It’s wonderful being old!”