Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Day 15: The Gift of the Elderly

Since his visit to Brazil for World Youth Day in 2013, Pope Francis has fervently repeated how as a global community we need to take better care and treasure our elderly.  In our throwaway culture, we are quick to discard the wisdom of our elders and the gifts that they can give.  I have said repeatedly that the next battleground in the Pro-Life cause will be the euthanizing of our elderly who have become a burden due to illness as is already happening in states with Physician Assisted Suicide or "Death with Dignity" as their advocates call it.  Again, we toss out the useless to make way for the useful.  No human being should ever be labeled a burden.  As a priest who has buried the last of his grandparents, I miss their wisdom, their wit, and their sage advice.  They were a treasure that live on in my heart and memory.  All God's children, no matter what age, are treasures, but the elderly have something extra to offer.   This is something worthy of our meditation today as Pope Francis directed us this morning at his General Audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the family, we now reflect on the importance of the elderly. Nowadays people tend to live longer, yet often our societies not only fail to make room for the elderly, but even consider them a burden. The quality of a society can be judged by the way it includes its older members. This is a particular challenge for our Western societies, marked on the one hand by aging populations and on the other by a cult of youth, efficiency and profit which tends to discard everything not considered productive or useful. Because of their vulnerability and their special needs, our elderly, above all those who are alone or ill, call for particular attention and care. Rather than a burden, they are, as the Bible tells us, a storehouse of wisdom (Sir 8:9). The Church has always accompanied the elderly with gratitude and affection, making them feel accepted and fully a part of the community. Without such solidarity between generations, the life of society is impoverished. In showing concern for our elderly, we strengthen the social fabric and ensure the future of our young. (Pope Francis, General Audience, March 4, 2015)