Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pope to elderly: Society needs your smile and the beautiful brightness of your eyes "thank you" to the elderly "for your example of love," dedication and wisdom and an appeal “never deny society your smile and the beautiful brightness of your eyes!", was Pope Francis conclusion at a meeting today in the Paul VI with members of the National Older Workers Union and the Italian Seniors Federation, in the context of the Day of the Elderly.
Addressing participants - not all elderly – who filled the whole room, the pontiff expressed the esteem that the Church has towards elders and grandparents: "The Church regards the elderly with affection, gratitude and high esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and society, in particular they represent the roots and the memory of a people. 

You are an important presence, because your experience is a precious treasure, which is essential to look to the future with hope and responsibility. Your maturity and wisdom accumulated over the years, can help young people, supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the future, in search of their way. The elderly, in fact, show that, even in the most difficult trials, we must never lose trust in God and in a better future. They are like trees that continue to bear fruit: even under the weight of years, they can make a decided contribution for a society rich in values ​​and for the affirmation of the culture of life.

Many elderly people generously spend their time and talents that God has bestowed upon them by helping and supporting others. I think of how many of you volunteer in parishes in a truly valuable service: some dedicated to the upkeep of the house of the Lord, others as catechists, leaders of the liturgy, witnesses of charity. And what about their role in the family? How many grandparents care for grandchildren, simply by transmitting to children the experience of life, the spiritual and cultural values ​​of a community and a people! In countries that have suffered a severe religious persecution, it was often the grandparents to pass on the faith to new generations, leading the children to be baptized in a painful underground environment".

"In a world like this, often subject to the myth of power and appearance, your mission is to witness to the values ​​that really matter and which endure forever because they are engraved on the heart of every human being and guaranteed by the Word God. Just as people of the so-called third age you, or rather we - because I too am one of them - are called to work for the development of the culture of life, witnessing that every season of life is a gift from God and it has its own beauty and its importance, although marked by fragility".

The pope also recalled the elderly "who live with the disease, the physically disabled and need assistance”.

"Today I thank the Lord for the many people and structures that are dedicated to offering a daily service to the elderly, to promote adequate human contexts, in which everyone can live this important stage of their lives with dignity. The institutions that house the elderly are called to be places of humanity and loving attention, where the weakest are not forgotten or neglected, but visited, remembered and cherished as brothers and sisters. It is also a good way to expresses gratitude towards those who have given so much to the community and are at its very root".

Francis has also launched an appeal to institutions and communities to facilitate the participation and appreciation of the elderly: "To do this we must counter the harmful culture of waste that marginalizes the elderly considering them unproductive. The public, the cultural, educational and religious leaders, as well as all people of good will, are called upon to commit to building a more welcoming and inclusive society”.

And to emphasize the negativity of the "culture of waste," moving from his scripted text he recalled an episode from his childhood: "One of my grandmothers told that their grandfather lived with them (he was a widower). He didn’t have very good table manners, his meal fell from [his mouth]. One day her father decided that the grandfather should eat in the kitchen, at a small table just for him ... So the family ate without Grandpa.

A few days later, he found one of his young children playing with hammer and nails. The father asked him what he was doing. The child answered him: I am making a wooden table so that when you become old you have somewhere to eat too .... ".

"This culture of waste – he continued – is like this 'you are old, you are not needed anymore...'. We cannot let this scrap culture go ahead”.

"It is important - he added - also favor the link between generations. The future of a people requires the encounter between young and old: the young people are the vitality of a people on the way and the elderly reinforce this vitality with memory and wisdom. It does me good to read when Joseph and Mary brought the child to the temple. And there they found two old people ... And they were the wisdom of the people. The elders receive Jesus in the temple, not the priest. Read this in the Gospel of Luke (2, 22-38). This is wonderful".

Before blessing those present, Francis invited them to pray "the grandmother of Jesus, Saint Anne. Everyone should quietly ask St. Anne to teach us to be good and wise grandparents". 

Eventually he went to greet the dozens of ill and disabled present at the meeting.

No comments: