Fr Blazek SJ, Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network
That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.
Mature experienced members of our families, parishes and societies have much to offer to the formation of young people today. Experience matters. The elderly are a treasure who inform our minds and spirits with lessons of the past so that we might better approach our future.
In the medical field, risk-taking among the young is seen as a great risk factor for injury or unhealthy behaviour. Because the young have energy and ideals, they can accomplish much in the arenas of family, social and work life. On the other hand, without experience, the young tend to take risks not cautioned by the school of hard knocks. Here is where our elders can be of great help in spiritual and personal formation.
Pope Francis, in a radio address in 2016, proclaimed: ‘The Church regards the elderly with affection, gratitude, and high esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society: in particular they represent the roots and the memory of a people… Your maturity and wisdom, accumulated over the years, can help younger people in search of their own way, supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the future.’
It is a duty, an honour, and a privilege to share our holy faith with those who come behind us. It is likewise a duty, honour, and privilege to learn from those who have gone before us. How many of us have experienced firsthand the lessons of wisdom from a grandmother, grandfather, or elder among our acquaintances? All of us must lower our pride and open our hearts to listen to our elders: elders at the same time, can learn from listening to the young.
Consider yourself kneeling before Christ on His Cross. Ask yourself: How have I shared the faith with young people? How am I sharing the faith? How ought I to share the faith? (Conversely, younger people might ask how they share the faith with their elders.)
Mt 19:13-14 – Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’