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Reflections: Catholic Seniors Section

Elderly couple

Cath. Seniors | Home | Daily Digest | Reflections: A-Z | Categorized

Reflections: 

 Catholic Seniors Section

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The Age of the Body Does Not Affect the Soul

The Aged Apostles Peter & Paul

The Aged Elizabeth

The Aged Pope St. Martin

The Aged St. Jerome

The Aged Zacharias

All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others

Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly

Care & Treatment of the Aged

Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors']

Elderly Persons in the Bible

The Elderly Pope John Paul II

The Elderly Pope Leo XIII

The Elderly Simeon & Anna

Euthanasia Condemned

The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors']

It Belongs to Elders to Reprove & Scold

It's Never Too Late

Let Your Old Age be Childlike

The Lord's Love ['Scripture for Seniors']

Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable

Old Age Conversions

Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age

Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God

Quality of Civilization Determined by the Protection of its Weakest Members

Respect / Honor for the Aged

The Rosary / Old Age

Suffering / Death Reflections [Catholic Life Section]

There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow

To Old Workingmen

To the Elderly that Feel Insecure

Treatment of Elderly & Widows ['Scripture for Seniors']

Widows / Widowhood

Young Persons Urged to Remain Close to the Elderly

Young Priests Recommended to Live With Elders

Misc.

Also See 'Scripture for Seniors'

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Category
Quotation

The Age of the Body Does Not Affect the Soul

"[T]he age of the body does not affect the soul. Consequently even in childhood man can attain to the perfection of spiritual age, of which it is written (Wisdom 4:8): 'Venerable old age is not that of long time, nor counted by the number of years.' And hence it is that many children, by reason of the strength of the Holy Ghost which they had received, fought bravely for Christ even to the shedding of their blood." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[M]an is spiritually advanced by this sacrament [of Confirmation] to perfect age. Now the intention of nature is that everyone born corporally, should come to perfect age: yet this is sometimes hindered by reason of the corruptibility of the body, which is forestalled by death. But much more is it God's intention to bring all things to perfection, since nature shares in this intention inasmuch as it reflects Him: hence it is written (Deuteronomy 32:4): 'The works of God are perfect.' Now the soul, to which spiritual birth and perfect spiritual age belong, is immortal; and just as it can in old age attain to spiritual birth, so can it attain to perfect (spiritual) age in youth or childhood; because the various ages of the body do not affect the soul. Therefore this sacrament should be given to all." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Elderly Persons in the Bible | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God | Respect / Honor for the Aged | There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors']

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Aged Apostles Peter & Paul 

Also See: St. Peter (Topic Page)

"Our Lord having made Peter declare his love, informs him of his future martyrdom (Jn. 21:18); an intimation to us how we should love: 'Verily, verily, I say to you, When you were young, you girded yourself, and walked where you would.' He reminds him of his former life, because, whereas in worldly matters a young man has powers, an old man none; in spiritual things, on the contrary, virtue is brighter, manliness stronger, in old age; age is no hindrance to grace. Peter had all along desired to share Christ's dangers; so Christ tells him, Be of good cheer; I will fulfill your desire in such a way, that what you have not suffered when young, you shall suffer when old: 'But when you are old'. Whence it appears, that he was then neither a young nor an old man, but in the prime of life." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"And note here that the servants do not come to the Lord to be judged, but the Lord shall come to them when the time shall be accomplished. After a long time, that is, when He has sent forth such as are fitted to bring about the salvation of souls, and perhaps for this reason it is not easy to find one who is quite fit to pass forthwith out of this life, as is manifest from this, that even the Apostles lived to old age; for example, it was said to Peter, When you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hand; and Paul says to Philemon, Now as Paul the aged." [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"That is, [he, Peter] shall be crucified. And to come to this end, Another shall gird you, and carry you where you would not (Jn. 21:18). First He said what would come to pass, secondly, how it would come to pass. For it was not when crucified, but when about to be crucified, that he was led where he would not. He wished to be released from the body, and be with Christ; but, if it were possible, he wished to attain to eternal life without the pains of death; to which he went against his will, but conquered by the force of his will, and triumphing over the human feeling, so natural a one, that even old age could not deprive Peter of it. But whatever be the pain of death, it ought to be conquered by the strength of love for Him, Who being our life, voluntarily also underwent death for us. For if there is no pain in death, or very little, the glory of martyrdom would not be great." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Elderly Persons in the Bible | The Elderly Pope John Paul II | The Elderly Pope Leo XIII | The Aged Pope St. Martin | Also See 'Scripture for Seniors'

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Aged Elizabeth 

"Seeing that his previous words had overcome the mind of the virgin, the angel drops his discourse to a humbler subject, persuading her by reference to sensible things. Hence he says, 'And, behold, Elisabeth your cousin...' Mark the discretion of Gabriel; he did not remind her of Sarah, or Rebecca, or Rachel, because they were examples of ancient times, but he brings forward a recent event, that he might the more forcibly strike her mind. For this reason also he noticed the age, saying, She also has conceived a son in her old age; and the natural infirmity also. As it follows, And this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For not immediately at the beginning of Elisabeth's conception did he make this announcement, but after the space of six months, that the swelling of her womb might confirm its truth." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: The Aged Zacharias | Elderly Persons in the Bible | Also See 'Scripture for Seniors' | Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors']

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Aged Pope St. Martin

"Indeed, the famous [pope St.] Martin who long ago won great praise for this See, commends faithfulness and fortitude to Us by his strengthening and defense of the truth and by the endurance of labors and pains. He was driven from his See and from the City, stripped of his rule, his rank, and his entire fortune. As soon as he arrived in any peaceful place, he was forced to move. Despite his advanced age and an illness which prevented his walking, he was banished to a remote land and repeatedly threatened with an even more painful exile. Without the assistance offered by the pious generosity of individuals, he would not have had food for himself and his few attendants. Although he was tempted daily in his weakened and lonely state, he never surrendered his integrity. No deceit could trick, no fear perturb, no promises conquer, no difficulties or dangers break him. His enemies could extract from him no sign which would not prove to all that Peter 'until this time and forever lives in his successors and exercises judgment as is particularly clear in every age' as an excellent writer at the Council of Ephesus says." (Pope Pius VII, "Diu Satis", 1800)

Also See: The Aged Apostles Peter & Paul | The Elderly Pope John Paul II | The Elderly Pope Leo XIII

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Aged St. Jerome

"Jerome was born in Stridonia, in a town 'on the borders of Dalmatia and Pannonia'; that from his infancy he was brought up a Catholic; that after his baptism here in Rome he lived to an advanced age and devoted all his powers to studying, expounding, and defending the Bible." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920)

"So it was that, sparing himself neither labor nor watching nor expense, he continued to extreme old age meditating day and night beside the Crib on the Law of the Lord; of greater profit to the Catholic cause by his life and example in his solitude than if he had passed his life at Rome, the capital of the world." (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920)

"Every moment he could spare from prayer he gave to Biblical studies. 'Though my hair was now growing gray and though I looked more like professor than student, yet I went to Alexandria to attend Didymus' lectures. I owe him much. What I did not know I learned. What I knew already I did not lose through his different presentation of it. Men thought I had done with tutors; but when I got back to Jerusalem and Bethlehem how hard I worked and what a price I paid for my night-time teacher Baraninus! Like another Nicodemus he was afraid of the Jews!'" (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920)

Also See: Saints Section Reflections

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Aged Zacharias 

"Considering his own age, and moreover the barrenness of his wife, Zacharias doubted; as it is said, And Zacharias said to the angel, Whereby shall I know this? as if he said, 'How shall this be?' And he adds the reason of his doubting; For I am an old man. An unseasonable time of life, an ill-suited nature; the planter infirm, the soil barren. But it is thought by some a thing unpardonable: in the priest, that he raises a course of objections; for whenever God declares any thing, it becomes us to receive it in faith, and moreover, disputes of this kind are the mark of a rebellious spirit. Hence it follows; And the angel answering said to him, I am Gabriel, who stand before God." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: The Aged Elizabeth | Elderly Persons in the Bible | Also See 'Scripture for Seniors' | Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors']

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others 

"No one is so rich that he does not need another's help; no one so poor as not to be useful in some way to his fellow man; and the disposition to ask assistance from others with confidence and to grant it with kindness is part of our very nature." (Pope Leo XIII, "Graves De Communi Re", 1901)

Also See: Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | Respect / Honor for the Aged | Care & Treatment of the Aged | Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable | Quality of Civilization Determined by the Protection of its Weakest Members | To the Elderly that Feel Insecure | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | The Lord's Love ['Scripture for Seniors']

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly 

"The Christian community can receive much from the serene presence of older people. I think first of all in terms of evangelization: its effectiveness does not depend principally on technical expertise. In how many families are grandchildren taught the rudiments of the faith by their grandparents! There are many other areas where the elderly can make a beneficial contribution. The Spirit acts as and where he wills, and quite frequently he employs human means which seem of little account in the eyes of the world. How many people find understanding and comfort from elderly people who may be lonely or ill and yet are able to instill courage by their loving advice, their silent prayers, or their witness of suffering borne with patient acceptance! At the very time when their physical energies and their level of activity are decreasing, these brothers and sisters of ours become all the more precious in the mysterious plan of Providence." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

"Neglect of the elderly or their outright rejection are intolerable. Their presence in the family, or at least their closeness to the family in cases where limited living space or other reasons make this impossible, is of fundamental importance in creating a climate of mutual interaction and enriching communication between the different age-groups. It is therefore important to preserve, or to re-establish where it has been lost, a sort of 'covenant' between generations. In this way parents, in their later years, can receive from their children the acceptance and solidarity which they themselves gave to their children when they brought them into the world. This is required by obedience to the divine commandment to honour one's father and mother (cf. Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3). But there is more. The elderly are not only to be considered the object of our concern, closeness and service. They themselves have a valuable contribution to make to the Gospel of life. Thanks to the rich treasury of experiences they have acquired through the years, the elderly can and must be sources of wisdom and witnesses of hope and love." (Pope John Paul II, 1995)

"There is an urgent need to recover a correct perspective on life as a whole. The correct perspective is that of eternity, for which life at every phase is a meaningful preparation. Old age too has a proper role to play in this process of gradual maturing along the path to eternity. And this process of maturing cannot but benefit the larger society of which the elderly person is a part. Elderly people help us to see human affairs with greater wisdom, because life's vicissitudes have brought them knowledge and maturity. They are the guardians of our collective memory, and thus the privileged interpreters of that body of ideals and common values which support and guide life in society. To exclude the elderly is in a sense to deny the past, in which the present is firmly rooted, in the name of a modernity without memory. Precisely because of their mature experience, the elderly are able to offer young people precious advice and guidance. In view of all this, the signs of human frailty which are clearly connected with advanced age become a summons to the mutual dependence and indispensable solidarity which link the different generations, inasmuch as every person needs others and draws enrichment from the gifts and charisms of all. Here the reflections of a poet dear to me are pertinent: 'It is not the future alone which is eternal, not the future alone!... Indeed, the past too is the age of eternity: Nothing which has already happened will come back today as it was... It will return, but as Idea; it will not return as itself'." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

"Faith thus illuminates the mystery of death and brings serenity to old age, now no longer considered and lived passively as the expectation of a calamity but rather as a promise-filled approach to the goal of full maturity. These are years to be lived with a sense of trusting abandonment into the hands of God, our provident and merciful Father. It is a time to be used creatively for deepening our spiritual life through more fervent prayer and commitment to the service of our brothers and sisters in charity. Most commendable then are all those social programmes enabling the elderly to continue to attend to their physical well-being, their intellectual development and their personal relationships, as well as those enabling them to make themselves useful and to put their time, talents and experience at the service of others. In this way the capacity to enjoy life as God's primordial gift is preserved and increases. Such a capacity to enjoy life in no way conflicts with that desire for eternity which grows within people of deep spiritual experience, as the lives of the saints bear witness." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

Also See: Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | The Age of the Body Does Not Affect the Soul | Respect / Honor for the Aged | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors']

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Care & Treatment of the Aged

"Rise up before the hoary head, and honor the person of the aged man." (Lev. 19:32)

"When among your elders be not forward, and with officials be not too insistent." (Sirach 32:9)

"Frequent the company of the elders; whoever is wise, stay close to him." (Sirach 6:34)

"Insult no man when he is old, for some of us, too, will grow old." (Sirach 8:6)

"The ideal is still for the elderly to remain within the family, with the guarantee of effective social assistance for the greater needs which age or illness entail. On the other hand, there are situations where circumstances suggest or demand that they be admitted to 'homes for the elderly' where they can enjoy the company of others and receive specialized care. Such institutions are indeed praiseworthy, and experience shows that they can provide a valuable service when they are inspired not only by organizational efficiency but also by loving concern. Everything becomes easier when each elderly resident is helped by family, friends and parish communities to feel loved and still useful to society. How can we fail to mention here, with admiration and gratitude, the Religious Congregations and volunteer groups specifically devoted to the care of the aged, especially the poor, the abandoned and those in difficulty?" (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

"To address the fact of ageing therefore means taking account of the human person who, from birth till death, is a gift of God, his image and imprint. It means to be resolute in ensuring that every moment of human life is lived in dignity and fullness." (Pope John Paul II, 2002)

"Our civilization must guarantee to older people care which is rich in humanity and inspired by true values. In this respect, developments in palliative medicine, volunteer help, the involvement of families - who in turn need to be sustained in accepting their responsibilities - and the humanization of centres for the care of the elderly are all decisive factors. This represents a vast field, in which the Catholic Church in particular has offered - and continues to offer - an extensive and constant contribution." (Pope John Paul II, 2002)

"And when earthly existence draws to a close, it is again charity which finds the most appropriate means for enabling the elderly, especially those who can no longer look after themselves, and the terminally ill to enjoy genuinely humane assistance and to receive an adequate response to their needs, in particular their anxiety and their loneliness. In these cases the role of families is indispensable; yet families can receive much help from social welfare agencies and, if necessary, from recourse to palliative care, taking advantage of suitable medical and social services available in public institutions or in the home. In particular, the role of hospitals, clinics and convalescent homes needs to be reconsidered. These should not merely be institutions where care is provided for the sick or the dying. Above all they should be places where suffering, pain and death are acknowledged and understood in their human and specifically Christian meaning. This must be especially evident and effective in institutes staffed by Religious or in any way connected with the Church." (Pope John Paul II, 1995)

"How can we guarantee the endurance of a society which is ageing, and safeguard the social security of older persons and their quality of life? In responding to this question, we must not be guided chiefly by economic criteria; rather, we must be inspired by sound moral principles. In the first place, the elderly must be considered in their dignity as persons, which does not diminish with the passing years nor with physical and mental deterioration. It is clear that such a positive view can flourish only in a culture capable of transcending social stereotypes which judge a person's worth on the basis of youth, efficiency, physical vigour or perfect health. Experience shows that when this positive view breaks down older people are quickly marginalized and condemned to a loneliness which is a kind of social death. And does not the self-esteem of older people depend in large part on how they are viewed in the family and in society? In order to be credible and effective, the proclamation of the dignity of the older person must be formulated in policies designed to ensure an equal distribution of resources, so that all citizens, including the elderly, can benefit from them... It certainly helps to solve the problems connected with ageing if older people are effectively made part of society, by providing space for their experience, knowledge and wisdom. The elderly should never be considered a burden on society, but a resource which can contribute to society's well-being. Not only do they show that there are aspects of life - human, cultural, moral and social values - which cannot be judged in terms of economic efficiency, but they can also make an effective contribution in the work-place and in leadership roles. In short, it is not just a question of doing something for older people, but also of accepting them in a realistic way as partners in shared projects - at the level of thought, dialogue and action...While old age is to be looked at in a positive light, and with a view to exploiting its full potential, its difficulties and the inevitable end of life should not be overlooked or obscured. It is true, as the Bible says, that people 'will still bear fruit when they are old' (Ps 92:15); but it is also true that old age is a season of life in which individuals are victims of human frailty, and so are especially vulnerable. Very often, the onset of chronic illness incapacitates the old person and serves as an inevitable reminder of life's end. At such times of suffering and dependence, the elderly not only need to be cared for with scientific and technical means but also to be looked after with efficiency and love, so that they do not feel that they are a useless burden or what is worse reach the point of wanting and asking for death." (Pope John Paul II, 2002)

Also See: Respect / Honor for the Aged | Treatment of Elderly & Widows ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Young Persons Urged to Remain Close to the Elderly | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable | Quality of Civilization Determined by the Protection of its Weakest Members | Euthanasia Condemned | The Age of the Body Does Not Affect the Soul | Suffering / Death Reflections [Catholic Life Section] | To the Elderly that Feel Insecure | Widows / Widowhood | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Elderly Persons in the Bible 

Also See: Catholic Bibles (Topic Page)

"...a sign of divine favour (cf. Gen 11:10-32). In the case of Abraham, in whom the privilege of old age is stressed, this favour takes the form of a promise: 'I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great. I will bless those who bless you and him who curses you I will curse; in you all the families of the earth will be blessed' (Gen 12:2-3). At Abraham's side is Sarah, a woman who sees her body growing old, yet experiences within the limitations of her aging flesh the power of God who makes good every human shortcoming. Moses too was an old man when God entrusted him with the mission of leading the Chosen People out of Egypt. It was not in his youth but in his old age that, at the Lord's command, he did mighty deeds on behalf of Israel. Among other examples of elderly people in the Bible, I would mention Tobit, who humbly and courageously resolved to keep God's Law, to help the needy and to endure blindness patiently, until the angel of God intervened to set his situation aright (cf. Tob 3:16-17). There is also Eleazar, whose martyrdom bore witness to an exceptional generosity and strength (cf. 2 Macc 6:18-31). The New Testament, filled with the light of Christ, also contains eloquent examples of elderly people. The Gospel of Luke begins by introducing a married couple 'advanced in years' (1:7): Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist. The Lord's mercy reaches out to them (cf. Lk 1:5-25, 39-79). Zechariah, already an old man, is told that a son will be born to him. He himself makes the point: 'I am an old man and my wife is well on in years' (Lk 1:18). During Mary's visitation, her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaims: 'Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!' (Lk 1:42), and when John the Baptist is born, Zechariah gives voice to the Benedictus. Here we see a remarkable older couple, filled with a deep spirit of prayer. In the Temple at Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to offer him to the Lord, or rather, in accordance with the Law, to redeem him as their first-born son. There they meet the aged Simeon, who had long awaited the Messiah. Taking the child in his arms, Simeon blesses God and proclaims the Nunc Dimittis: 'Lord, now let your servant depart in peace' (Lk 2:29). At Simeon's side we find Anna, a widow of eighty-four, a frequent visitor to the Temple, who now has the joy of seeing Jesus. The Evangelist tells us that 'she began to praise God and spoke of the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem' (Lk 2:38). Nicodemus too, a highly-regarded member of the Sanhedrin, was an elderly man. He visited Jesus by night in order not to be seen. To him the Divine Teacher reveals that he is the Son of God who has come to save the world (cf. Jn 3:1-21). Nicodemus appears again at the burial of Jesus, when, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, he overcomes his fear and shows himself a disciple of the Crucified Lord (cf. Jn 19:38-40). How reassuring are all these examples! They remind us that at every stage of life the Lord can ask each of us to contribute what talents we have. The service of the Gospel has nothing to do with age! And what shall we say of Peter in his old age, called to bear witness to his faith by martyrdom? Jesus had once said to him: 'When you were young you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go' (Jn 21:18). These are words which, as the Successor of Peter, touch me personally; they make me feel strongly the need to reach out and grasp the hands of Christ, in obedience to his command: 'Follow me!' (Jn 21:19). As if to recapitulate the splendid images of elderly people found throughout the Bible, Psalm 92 proclaims: 'The just will flourish like the palm-tree, and grow like a Lebanon cedar..., still bearing fruit when they are old, still full of sap, still green, to proclaim that the Lord is just' (vv. 13, 15-16). Echoing the Psalmist, the Apostle Paul writes in his Letter to Titus: 'Bid the older men be temperate, serious, sensible, sound in faith, in love, and in patience. Bid the older women likewise to live in a way appropriate to believers...; they are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children' (2:2-5). Thus the teaching and language of the Bible present old age as a 'favourable time' for bringing life to its fulfilment and, in God's plan for each person, as a time when everything comes together and enables us better to grasp life's meaning and to attain 'wisdom of heart'. 'An honourable old age comes not with the passing of time', observes the Book of Wisdom, 'nor can it be measured in terms of years; rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age' (4:8-9). Old age is the final stage of human maturity and a sign of God's blessing." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

Also See: Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors'] | The Aged Apostles Peter & Paul | The Aged Elizabeth | The Aged Zacharias | The Elderly Simeon & Anna | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | Widows / Widowhood | Also See 'Scripture for Seniors'

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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The Elderly Pope John Paul II

"'Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty if we are strong, and most of them are fruitless toil, for they pass quickly and we drift away' (Ps 90:10). Seventy years was an advanced age when the Psalmist wrote these words, and few people lived beyond it. Nowadays, thanks to medical progress and improved social and economic conditions, life expectancy has increased significantly in many parts of the world. Still, it remains true that the years pass quickly, and the gift of life, for all the effort and pain it involves, is too beautiful and precious for us ever to grow tired of it. As an older person myself, I have felt the desire to engage in a conversation with you. I do so first of all by thanking God for the gifts and the opportunities which he has abundantly bestowed upon me up to now. In my memory I recall the stages of my life, which is bound up with the history of much of this century, and I see before me the faces of countless people, some particularly dear to me: they remind me of ordinary and extraordinary events, of happy times and of situations touched by suffering. Above all else, though, I see outstretched the provident and merciful hand of God the Father, who 'cares in the best way possible for all that exists' and who 'hears us whenever we ask for anything according to his will'. With the Psalmist, I say to him: 'You have taught me, O God, from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds. And now that I am old and grey, O God, forsake me not, till I proclaim your strength to every generation that is to come' (Ps 71:17-18)." (Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Elderly, 1999)

Also See: The Aged Apostles Peter & Paul | The Aged Pope St. Martin | The Elderly Pope Leo XIII

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The Elderly Pope Leo XIII 

"For the holy reverence for Mary which We experienced from Our tenderest years, has grown greater and has taken firmer hold of Our soul with Our advancing age." (Pope Leo XIII, "Magnae Dei Matris", 1892)

"We have often lifted up our eyes to God in thanksgiving for His most gracious gift of long life, and for the consolations in Our labors which We have mentioned" (Pope Leo XIII, "Exeunte Iam Anno", 1888)

"We ask the prayers of the Christian people in devout supplication before her altars on behalf of the Church, tormented by such adverse and turbulent times, and on behalf of Ourself as well. Advanced in age, worn out with labors, fettered by distressingly difficult events with no human help to rely upon, We must yet carry on the government of the Church. Our hope in Mary, powerful and benign Mother, is daily more confirmed and more sweetly consoling. To her intercession We attribute the many and remarkable gifts We have obtained from God; with thanks still more profuse do we attribute the fact that it has been given Us to reach the fiftieth anniversary of Our episcopal consecration." (Pope Leo XIII, "Magnae Dei Matris", 1892)

"Still we can never be satisfied with celebrating the Divine Mother, who is in truth worthy of all praise, and in urging love and affection towards her who is also the mother of mankind, who is full of mercy, full of grace. Yea, Our soul, wearied with the cares of the Apostolate, the nearer it feels the time of Our departure to be at hand, with the more earnest confidence looks up to her from whom, as from a blessed dawn, arose the Day of happiness and joy that was never to set." (Pope Leo XIII, "Fidentem Piumque Animum", 1896)

Also See: The Aged Apostles Peter & Paul | The Aged Pope St. Martin | The Elderly Pope John Paul II

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The Elderly Simeon & Anna 

"As [St.] Ambrose says (on Luke 2:25): 'It was right that our Lord's birth should be attested not only by the shepherds, but also by people advanced in age and virtue': whose testimony is rendered the more credible by reason of their righteousness." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Simeon had prophesied, a woman united in marriage had prophesied, a virgin had prophesied, it was meet also that a widow should prophesy, that there might lack no sex or condition of life, and therefore it is said, And there was one Anna a prophetess." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Now Anna, both from the duties of her widowhood and her manner of life, is found to be such that she is thought worthy to announce the Redeemer of the world. As it follows,' She was of a great age, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity...' (Lk. 2:36.)" (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"His condescension in coming to the marriage, and the miracle He wrought there, are, even considering them in the letter only, a strong confirmation of the a faith. Therein too are condemned the errors of Tatian, Marcion, and others who detract from the honor of marriage. For if the undefiled bed, and the marriage celebrated with due chastity, partook at all of sin, our Lord would never have come to one. Whereas now, conjugal chastity being good, the continence of widows better, the perfection of the virgin state best, to sanction all these degrees, but distinguish the merit of each, He deigned to be born of the pure womb of the Virgin; was blessed after birth by the prophetic voice of the widow Anna; and now invited in manhood to attend the celebration of a marriage, honors that also by the presence of His goodness." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: Elderly Persons in the Bible | Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors']

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Euthanasia Condemned

Also See: Pro-Life (Topic Page)

"In the past, great respect was shown to the elderly. 'Great was once the reverence given to a hoary head', says Ovid, the Latin poet. Centuries earlier, the Greek poet Phocylides had admonished: 'Respect grey hair: give to the elderly sage the same signs of respect that you give your own father'. And what of today? If we stop to consider the current situation, we see that among some peoples old age is esteemed and valued, while among others this is much less the case, due to a mentality which gives priority to immediate human usefulness and productivity. Such an attitude frequently leads to contempt for the later years of life, while older people themselves are led to wonder whether their lives are still worthwhile. It has come to the point where euthanasia is increasingly put forward as a solution for difficult situations. Unfortunately, in recent years the idea of euthanasia has lost for many people the sense of horror which it naturally awakens in those who have a sense of respect for life. Certainly it can happen that, when grave illness involves unbearable suffering, the sick are tempted to despair and their loved ones or those responsible for their care feel compelled by a misguided compassion to consider the solution of 'an easy death' as something reasonable. Here it should be kept in mind that the moral law allows the rejection of 'aggressive medical treatment' and makes obligatory only those forms of treatment which fall within the normal requirements of medical care, which in the case of terminal illness seeks primarily to alleviate pain. But euthanasia, understood as directly causing death, is another thing entirely. Regardless of intentions and circumstances, euthanasia is always an intrinsically evil act, a violation of God's law and an offence against the dignity of the human person." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

"With regard to the last moments of life too, it would be anachronistic to expect biblical revelation to make express reference to present-day issues concerning respect for elderly and sick persons, or to condemn explicitly attempts to hasten their end by force. The cultural and religious context of the Bible is in no way touched by such temptations; indeed, in that context the wisdom and experience of the elderly are recognized as a unique source of enrichment for the family and for society. Old age is characterized by dignity and surrounded with reverence (cf. 2 Mac 6:23). The just man does not seek to be delivered from old age and its burden; on the contrary his prayer is this: 'You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth... so even to old age and grey hairs, O God, do not forsake me, till I proclaim your might to all the generations to come' (Ps 71:5,18). The ideal of the Messianic age is presented as a time when 'no more shall there be ... an old man who does not fill out his days' (Is 65:20). In old age, how should one face the inevitable decline of life? How should one act in the face of death? The believer knows that his life is in the hands of God: 'You, O Lord, hold my lot' (cf. Ps 16:5), and he accepts from God the need to die: 'This is the decree from the Lord for all flesh, and how can you reject the good pleasure of the Most High?' (Sir 41:3-4). Man is not the master of life, nor is he the master of death. In life and in death, he has to entrust himself completely to the 'good pleasure of the Most High', to his loving plan. In moments of sickness too, man is called to have the same trust in the Lord and to renew his fundamental faith in the One who 'heals all your diseases' (cf. Ps 103:3). When every hope of good health seems to fade before a person's eyes - so as to make him cry out: 'My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass' (Ps 102:11) - even then the believer is sustained by an unshakable faith in God's life-giving power. Illness does not drive such a person to despair and to seek death, but makes him cry out in hope: 'I kept my faith, even when I said, 'I am greatly afflicted' (Ps 116:10); 'O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the pit' (Ps 30:2-3)." (Pope John Paul II, 1995)

Also See: Care & Treatment of the Aged | Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable | Quality of Civilization Determined by the Protection of its Weakest Members | Respect / Honor for the Aged | The Age of the Body Does Not Affect the Soul | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Suffering / Death Reflections [Catholic Life Section]

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It Belongs to Elders to Reprove & Scold 

"[I]t belongs to wise men and elders to reprove and to scold." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Young Persons Urged to Remain Close to the Elderly

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It's Never Too Late

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"Do thou make all understand that it is never too late to begin to serve God. Were it even, as in thy case, the evening of life, what yet remains of time would suffice to make us saints, if we would but generously give that little fully to heaven." (Liturgical Year)

Also See: Old Age Conversions | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow | The Lord's Love ['Scripture for Seniors']

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Let Your Old Age be Childlike

"Let your old age be childlike, and your childhood like old age; that is, so that neither may your wisdom be with pride, nor your humility without wisdom." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

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Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable

"Neglect of the elderly or their outright rejection are intolerable. Their presence in the family, or at least their closeness to the family in cases where limited living space or other reasons make this impossible, is of fundamental importance in creating a climate of mutual interaction and enriching communication between the different age-groups. It is therefore important to preserve, or to re-establish where it has been lost, a sort of 'covenant' between generations. In this way parents, in their later years, can receive from their children the acceptance and solidarity which they themselves gave to their children when they brought them into the world. This is required by obedience to the divine commandment to honour one's father and mother (cf. Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3). But there is more. The elderly are not only to be considered the object of our concern, closeness and service. They themselves have a valuable contribution to make to the Gospel of life. Thanks to the rich treasury of experiences they have acquired through the years, the elderly can and must be sources of wisdom and witnesses of hope and love." (Pope John Paul II, 1995)

Also See: Respect / Honor for the Aged | Young Persons Urged to Remain Close to the Elderly | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Care & Treatment of the Aged | Quality of Civilization Determined by the Protection of its Weakest Members | Euthanasia Condemned

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Old Age Conversions 

Also See: Becoming a Catholic / Converting (Topic Page)

"[S]ome live a most excellent and perfect life, another ofttime even in his old age is converted to God, or perhaps when just about to close his last day, through God's mercy washes away his guilt. But this mercy some men reject from restless timidity of mind, not counting upon the will of our Savior, who rejoices in the salvation of those who are perishing." (St. Cyril, Doctor of the Church)

"Whether they be bond or free, Greek or Barbarian, wise or unwise, women or men, the young or the aged, all are made meet for the honor, which the Evangelist now proceeds to mention. To them gave He power to become the sons of God." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"They then who have neglected till extreme old age to live to God, have stood idle to the eleventh hour, yet even these the master of the household calls, and oftentimes gives them their reward before other, inasmuch as they depart out of the body into the kingdom before those that seemed to be called in their childhood." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"When He says, The first shall be last, and the last first (Mt. 20:16), He alludes secretly to such as were at the first eminent, and afterwards set at nought virtue; and to others who have been reclaimed from wickedness, and have surpassed many. So that this parable was made to quicken the zeal of those who are converted in extreme old age, that they should not suppose that they shall have less than others." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Do not, I implore you, delay your conversion to God, for you know not the day appointed to carry you off. You tell me that God has given His grace to be converted to some when they have reached to extreme old age. Does it follow from this that He will grant you the same favor? Perhaps He will grant it to me. Why add perhaps? Because it has sometimes happened. What! Does the question of your salvation depend on a perhaps?" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"The first watch then is the earliest time of our life, that is, childhood, the second youth and manhood, but the third represents old age (Lk. 12:38). He then who is unwilling to watch in the first, let him keep even the second. And he who is unwilling in the second, let him not lose the remedies of the third watch, that he who has neglected conversion in childhood, may at least in the time of youth or old age recover himself." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow | Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age

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Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age

"So with old age is wisdom, and with length of days understanding." (Job 12:12)

"Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by virtuous living." (Prov. 16:31)

"The glory of young men is their strength, and the dignity of old men is gray hair." (Prov. 20:29)

"The crown of old men is wide experience; their glory, the fear of the LORD." (Sirach 25:6)

"I believe that old age is a gift, a very precious gift, not a calamity. Since it is a gift, I thank God for it daily. Age robs us and enriches us. It robs us of life, as we know life and love it; to a certain extent it diminishes us. It separates us from loved ones and much human living and makes us dependent upon others. Yet it offers great and subtle compensations: many insights, often much peace, and certain fruits of wisdom. It brings new contributions, new hopes, fulfillments, perspectives, especially for the thoughtful. Old age does mean a diminishment, and always ands in that utter diminishment, which is death. Yet through diminishment age brings us a new life: a life that flows directly from the source of all life and youth - the Eternal life. This new life, the life of the Resurrection, is nourished within us here and now, in the struggles of this world. It is nourished in us by the operation of the Holy Spirit: a continual life-building, which becomes more intense as we advance in years and in diminishment... I can reject this divine operation by bitterness, cowardice, and complaint. Or I can accept it by thanksgiving: by faith, hope, and love." (Lafarge)

"[W]hereas childhood and youth are the times when the human person is being formed and is completely directed towards the future, and - in coming to appreciate his own abilities - makes plans for adulthood, old age is not without its own benefits. As Saint Jerome observes, with the quieting of the passions, it 'increases wisdom, and brings more mature counsels'. In a certain sense, it is the season for that wisdom which generally comes from experience, since 'time is a great teacher'. The prayer of the Psalmist is well known: 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart' (Ps 90:12)." (Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Elderly, 1999)

Also See: The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | The Age of the Body Does Not Affect the Soul | Elderly Persons in the Bible | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Old Age Conversions | Respect / Honor for the Aged | Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God | There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow 

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Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God

"You never weary of listening to me; you are never tired of doing me good. I am certain of being loved by you if I love you; my goods are nothing to you, and by bestowing yours on me, you never grow poor. However miserable I may be, no one more noble or learned or even holier can come between you and me and deprive me of your friendship; and death, which tears us away from all other friends, will unite me to you forever. All the humiliations attached to old age, or to loss of honor, will never detach me from you. On the contrary, I shall never enjoy you more fully, and you will never be closer to me than when everything seems to conspire against me, to overwhelm me and to cast me down." (Bl. Claude de la Colombiere) 

Also See: Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Elderly Persons in the Bible | The Lord's Love ['Scripture for Seniors'] | There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow | Old Age Conversions

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Quality of Civilization Determined by the Protection of its Weakest Members

"It may be said that a society shows itself just to the extent that it meets the needs of all its members, and the quality of its civilization is determined by the way in which it protects its weakest members." (Pope John Paul II, 2002)

"The quality of a society, of a civilization, may also be judged by how it treats its elderly and by the place reserved for them in communal life. To give space to the elderly is to give space to life!" (Pope Benedict XVI, 2012)

Also See: Care & Treatment of the Aged | Respect / Honor for the Aged | Treatment of Elderly & Widows ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable | Euthanasia Condemned | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Suffering / Death Reflections [Catholic Life Section]

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Respect / Honor for the Aged 

"Rise up before the hoary head, and honor the person of the aged man." (Lev. 19:32)

"The aged should be honored, because old age is a sign of virtue, though this sign fail at times: wherefore, according to Wisdom 4:8,9, 'venerable old age is not that of long time, nor counted by the number of years; but the understanding of a man is gray hairs, and a spotless life is old age.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Old age calls for reverence, not on account of the state of the body which is at fault; but on account of the soul's wisdom which is taken for granted on account of its being advanced in years. Wherefore in the elect [at Resurrection] there will remain the reverence due to old age on account of the fullness of Divine wisdom which will be in them, but the defect of old age [i.e. bodily defects] will not be in them." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Why then should we not continue to give the elderly the respect which the sound traditions of many cultures on every continent have prized so highly? For peoples influenced by the Bible, the point of reference through the centuries has been the commandment of the Decalogue: 'Honour your father and mother', a duty which for that matter is universally recognized. The full and consistent application of this commandment has not only been a source of the love of children for their parents, but it has also forged the strong link which exists between the generations. Where this commandment is accepted and faithfully observed, there is little danger that older people will be regarded as a useless and troublesome burden. The same commandment also teaches respect for those who have gone before us and for all the good which they have done: the words 'father and mother' point to the past, to the bond between generations which makes possible the very existence of a people. In the two versions found in the Bible (cf. Ex 20:2-17; Dt 5:6-21), this divine commandment is the first of those inscribed on the second Tablet of the Law, which deals with the duties of human beings towards one another and towards society. Furthermore, it is the only commandment to which a promise is attached: 'Honour your father and mother, so that your days in the land which the Lord your God gives you may be long' (Ex 20:12; cf. Dt 5:16)." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

"Rise in the presence of one with grey hair; honour the person of the older man (Lev 19:32). Honouring older people involves a threefold duty: welcoming them, helping them and making good use of their qualities. In many places this happens almost spontaneously, as the result of long-standing custom. Elsewhere, and especially in the more economically advanced nations, there needs to be a reversal of the current trend, to ensure that elderly people can grow old with dignity, without having to fear that they will end up no longer counting for anything. There must be a growing conviction that a fully human civilization shows respect and love for the elderly, so that despite their diminishing strength they feel a vital part of society. Cicero himself noted that 'the burden of age is lighter for those who feel respected and loved by the young'." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

Also See: Care & Treatment of the Aged | Treatment of Elderly & Widows ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Widows / Widowhood | Young Persons Urged to Remain Close to the Elderly | Elderly Persons in the Bible | Quality of Civilization Determined by the Protection of its Weakest Members

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The Rosary / Old Age 

Also See: Holy Rosary (Topic Page)

"From [meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary], the young will draw fresh energy with which to control the rebellious tendencies to evil and to preserve intact the stainless purity of the soul; also in it, the old will again find repose, relief and peace from their anxious cares. To those who devote themselves to Catholic Action may it be a spur to impel them to a more fervent and active work of apostolate; and to all those who suffer in any way, especially the dying, may it bring comfort and increase the hope of eternal happiness." (Pope Pius XI, "Ingravescentibus Malis", 1937)

"For, to be brief, by repeating the same prayers [of the Rosary] we strenuously implore from Our Heavenly Father the Kingdom of His grace and glory; we again and again beseech the Virgin Mother to aid us sinners by her prayers, both during our whole life and especially at that last moment which is the stepping-stone to eternity." (Pope Leo XIII, "Fidentem Piumque Animum", 1896)

Also See: Rosary Section (Reflections) | Mary, Our Mother Section (Reflections)

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Suffering / Death

Click here for 'Reflections' related to this topic [Catholic Life Section]

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There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow 

Also See: Spiritual Growth (Topic Page)

"Even the obstacles created by our declining forces create the occasion for the development of new phases of one's spiritual life... There is no period of life, as long as we have reasonable exercise of our faculties, that we cannot continue to some degree to grow...There is no condition of mind or body, in which I cannot in some way, in some fashion or manner, practice some form of love for God and man... To walk with God takes courage, and in old age God asks us to walk with Him. He asks us not to be frightened at what we see, or dismayed at what we hear, because He is with us, and knows from His own experience what life on this earth is, even though He Himself has not suffered the drawbacks of old age." (Lafarge)

Also See: The Age of the Body Does Not Affect the Soul | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God

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To Old Workingmen

"Here We should like to address a particularly affectionate word to Our Catholic workingmen, young and old. They have been given, perhaps as a reward for their often heroic fidelity in these trying days, a noble and an arduous mission. Under the guidance of their Bishops and priests, they are to bring back to the Church and to God those immense multitudes of their brother-workmen who, because they were not understood or treated with the respect to which they were entitled, in bitterness have strayed far from God. Let Catholic workingmen show these their wandering brethren by word and example that the Church is a tender Mother to all those who labor and suffer, and that she has never failed, and never will fail, in her sacred maternal duty of protecting her children. If this mission, which must be fulfilled in mines, in factories, in shops, wherever they may be laboring, should at times require great sacrifices, Our workmen will remember that the Savior of the world has given them an example not only of toil but of self immolation." (Pope Pius XI, "Divini Redemptoris", 1937)

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To the Elderly that Feel Insecure

"Dear elderly friends who feel insecure because of ill health or other circumstances, I assure you of my closeness and affection. When God permits us to suffer because of illness, loneliness or other reasons associated with old age, he always gives us the grace and strength to unite ourselves with greater love to the sacrifice of his Son and to share ever more fully in his plan of salvation. Let us be convinced of this: he is our Father, a Father rich in love and mercy!" (Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Elderly, 1999)

Also See: Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God | There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | The Lord's Love ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Our Father's Love Section (Reflections) | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Care & Treatment of the Aged | Elderly Persons in the Bible | Respect / Honor for the Aged | Widows / Widowhood | Suffering / Death Reflections [Catholic Life Section]

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Widows / Widowhood

"For in a certain manner the inculcation of virginity is strengthened by the example of widows. They who have preserved their marriage bed undefiled are a testimony to virgins that chastity is to be preserved for God." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"It is said that the turtledove, once separated from her mate, does not contract a new union, but remains in widowhood, in remembrance of her first alliance. Listen, O women! What venation for widowhood, even in these creatures devoid of reason, how they prefer it to an unbecoming multiplicity of marriages." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"For the Holy Spirit dwelt not by chance in her. For the highest blessing, if any can possess it, is the grace of virginity, but if this cannot be, and it chance to a woman to lose her husband, let her remain a widow, which indeed not only after the death of her husband, but even while he is living, she ought to have in her mind, that supposing it should not happen, her will and determination might be crowned by the Lord, and her words should be, 'This I vow, and promise, that if a certain condition of this life be mine, (which yet I wish not,) I will do nothing else but remain inviolate and a widow.' Most justly then was this holy woman thought worthy to receive the gift of prophecy, because by long chastity and long fastings she had ascended to this height of virtue, as It follows, 'Who departed not from the temple with fastings and prayers...' (Lk. 2:37)" [Origen ("the greatest scholar of Christian antiquity" - although he would eventually be excommunicated and be regarded as a heretic), 3rd century A.D.]

"His condescension in coming to the marriage, and the miracle He wrought there, are, even considering them in the letter only, a strong confirmation of the a faith. Therein too are condemned the errors of Tatian, Marcion, and others who detract from the honor of marriage. For if the undefiled bed, and the marriage celebrated with due chastity, partook at all of sin, our Lord would never have come to one. Whereas now, conjugal chastity being good, the continence of widows better, the perfection of the virgin state best, to sanction all these degrees, but distinguish the merit of each, He deigned to be born of the pure womb of the Virgin; was blessed after birth by the prophetic voice of the widow Anna; and now invited in manhood to attend the celebration of a marriage, honors that also by the presence of His goodness." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"Both solid reason and the authority of Holy Writ show that neither is marriage sinful, nor is it to be equaled to the good of virginal continence or even to that of widowhood." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"Can. 1142 Although chaste widowhood is more honorable, nevertheless, second and subsequent marriages are valid and licit, with due regard for the prescription of Canon 1069, § 2." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Injuries done to widows and orphans are more [injurious] both through being more opposed to mercy, and because the same injury done to such persons is more grievous to them since they have no one to turn to for relief." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"'Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore you shall receive the greater damnation.' (Mt. 23:14)] The female sex is imprudent, as not contemplating with reason all that it sees or hears; and weak, as being easily turned either from bad to good, or from good to bad. The male sex is more prudent and hardy. And therefore pretenders to holiness practice most upon women, who are unable to see their hypocrisy, and are easily inclined to love them on the ground of religion. But widows they chiefly choose to attempt; first, because a woman who has her husband to advise her is not so readily deceived; and secondly, she has not the means of giving, being in the power of her husband. The Lord then, whilst He confounds the Jewish Priests, instructs the Christian that they should not frequent widows rather than others, for though their purpose may not be bad, it gives occasion to suspicions." (Psuedo-Chrys, as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

"Indeed, right from Apostolic times this virtue has been thriving and flourishing in the garden of the Church. When the Acts of the Apostles say that Philip the deacon was the father of four virgins, the word certainly refers to their state of life rather than to their age. And not much later Ignatius of Antioch salutes the virgins, who together with the widows, formed a not insignificant part of the Christian community of Smyrna. In the second century, as St. Justin testifies, 'many men and women, sixty and seventy years old, imbued from childhood with the teachings of Christ, keep their integrity.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954)

Also See: Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Treatment of Elderly & Widows ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Elderly Persons in the Bible | The Elderly Simeon & Anna | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | The Lord's Love ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Old Age Will Not Detach Us From God | There is No Period of Life Where We Cannot Continue to Grow | Respect / Honor for the Aged | The Rosary / Old Age | To the Elderly that Feel Insecure | Suffering / Death Reflections [Catholic Life Section]

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Young Persons Urged to Remain Close to the Elderly 

"While speaking of older people, I would also say a word to the young, to invite them to remain close to the elderly. Dear young people, I urge you to do this with great love and generosity. Older people can give you much more than you can imagine. The Book of Sirach offers this advice: 'Do not disregard what older people say, because they too have learnt from their parents' (8:9); 'Attend the meetings with older people. Is there one who is wise? Spend time with him' (6:34); for 'wisdom is becoming to the elderly' (25:5)." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

Also See: Respect / Honor for the Aged | Treatment of Elderly & Widows ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Neglect of the Elderly is Intolerable | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Care & Treatment of the Aged | Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Young Priests Recommended to Live With Elders

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Young Priests Recommended to Live With Elders

"It is particularly recommended that young priests live with some pastor and his assistants, for, in this way, with the guidance of older people, they can more easily adjust themselves to the sacred ministry and perfect the spirit of piety." (Pope Pius XII, "Menti Nostrae", 1950)

Also See: Old Age is a Gift / Benefits of Old Age | The Glory of Old Age ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Elderly & Widows of the Bible ['Scripture for Seniors'] | Beneficial Contributions of the Elderly | Respect / Honor for the Aged | Treatment of Elderly & Widows ['Scripture for Seniors'] | All Need Others' Help / All Are Useful to Others | Care & Treatment of the Aged | Young Persons Urged to Remain Close to the Elderly | Priests & Vocations Section (Reflections)

Note: Categories are subjective and may overlap. For more items related to this topic, please review all applicable categories. For more 'Reflections' and for Scripture topics, see links below.

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Misc. 

"Every human person, no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society, is a being of inestimable worth, created in the image and likeness of God." (Pope John Paul II)

"Now that I am old and gray, do not forsake me, God, That I may proclaim your might to all generations yet to come, Your power and justice, God, to the highest heaven. You have done great things; O God, who is your equal?" (Ps. 71:18-19)

"The just shall flourish like the palm tree, shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bear fruit even in old age, always vigorous and sturdy, As they proclaim: "The LORD is just; our rock, in whom there is no wrong." (Ps. 92:13-16)

"Even to your old age I am the same, even when your hair is gray I will bear you; It is I who have done this, I who will continue, and I who will carry you to safety." (Isa. 46:4)

"Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their parentage." (Prov. 17:6)

"How becoming to the gray-haired is judgment, and a knowledge of counsel to those on in years! How becoming to the aged is wisdom, understanding and prudence to the venerable!" (Sirach 25:4-5)

"Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age." (Wisdom 4:9)

"At times, at a certain age, one turns to the past with regret for the loss of youth, its energy and plans for the future. At times our perspective is veiled with sadness, as we consider this phase as the twilight of life. This morning, ideally addressing all the elderly and aware of the difficulties that our age brings, I would like to say to you with profound conviction: it is good to be elderly! At every age it is necessary to know how to discover the presence and the blessing of the Lord, and the richness that this brings. We must not allow ourselves to be imprisoned by sadness! We have received the gift of long life. To live is beautiful, even at our age and despite infirmities or limitations. Let our faces always reflect the joy of being loved by God, and never sadness" (Pope Benedict XVI, 2012)

"You, who profess to follow Christ, imitate him in fulfilling this utterance of his, and as long as you have the strength and the time, do not seek to end your labors. Complete what you have begun, so that when you come to the evening of life, you too can say with your friend Jesus: It is finished. Therefore, walk along the path of true virtue, pursue righteousness, resist sin even unto death, so that you may gain eternal life and be able to say with Saint Paul: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. You still have some labors ahead of you and some time left of this earth. Your hour will come quickly when being make perfect in a short period of time, you fulfilled a long time." (Thomas a Kempis)

"This sacrament [of Confirmation] is given in order to confer a certain excellence, not indeed, like the sacrament of order, of one man over another, but of man in regard to himself: thus the same man, when arrived at maturity, excels himself as he was when a boy." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"How much vice among the youth! What sloth in the old! No one takes due care of the education of his children. If we see a man truly devout in his old age, he is imitated by nobody. I see persons behave disrespectfully and without due attention in the church, and even when the priest is giving his blessing. Can any insolence be found equal to this? Amidst such scandals, what hopes can we entertain of the salvation of many? At a ball everyone dances in his rank, everything is regulated and done without confusion. And here in the company of angels, and singing the praises of God with the blessed spirits, you talk and laugh. Should we be surprised if thunder fell from heaven to punish such impiety?" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Furthermore, while the human spirit has some part in the process of bodily aging, in some way it remains ever young if it is constantly turned towards eternity. This experience of enduring youthfulness becomes all the more powerful when to the inner witness of a good conscience is joined the sympathetic concern and grateful affection of loved ones. Then, as Saint Gregory of Nazianzus writes, a man 'will not grow old in spirit, but will accept dissolution as the moment fixed for the freedom which must come. Gently he will cross into the beyond, where there is neither youth nor old age, but where all are perfect in spiritual maturity'. We are all familiar with examples of elderly people who remain amazingly youthful and vigorous in spirit. Those coming into contact with them find their words an inspiration and their example a source of comfort. May society use to their full potential those elderly people who in some parts of the world - I think especially of Africa - are rightly esteemed as 'living encyclopedias' of wisdom, guardians of an inestimable treasure of human and spiritual experiences. While they tend to need physical assistance, it is equally true that in their old age the elderly are able to offer guidance and support to young people as they face the future and prepare to set out along life's paths." (Pope John Paul II, 1999)

"The Seraphic Father founded two Orders, one for men and the other for women, both made up of aspirants to evangelical perfection. He then began a visit to the cities of Italy announcing, either personally or through the first disciples who had come to him, the foundation of his two Orders, preaching penance to the people in few but fiery words, gathering by this ministry and by his words and example almost unbelievable fruits. In all the places where he went to perform the functions of his apostolic ministry the people and clergy came out in procession to meet [St.] Francis [of Assisi], and there was much ringing of bells, singing of popular songs, and waving of olive branches. Persons of every age, sex, and condition flocked to him and, by day or night, surrounded the house where he lived so that they might have a chance of seeing him when he went out, of touching him, speaking to him, or listening to his words. No one, even if he were grown gray in habits of vice and sin, could resist the preaching of the Saint. Very many people, even some of mature age, vied with one another in giving up all their earthly goods for love of the evangelical life. Entire cities of Italy, reborn to a new moral life, placed themselves under the direction of Francis. The number of his sons grew beyond reckoning. Such was the enthusiasm which filled all to follow in his footsteps that the Seraphic Patriarch himself was often obliged to dissuade many and turn aside from the proposal to leave the world both men and women who were willing and ready to give up their conjugal rights and the joys of domestic life." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"Dear brothers and sisters, at our age it is natural to revisit the past in order to attempt a sort of assessment. This retrospective gaze makes possible a more serene and objective evaluation of persons and situations we have met along the way. The passage of time helps us to see our experiences in a clearer light and softens their painful side. Sadly, struggles and tribulations are very much a part of everyone's life. Sometimes it is a matter of problems and sufferings which can sorely test our mental and physical resistance, and perhaps even shake our faith. But experience teaches that daily difficulties, by God's grace, often contribute to people's growth and to the forging of their character. Beyond single events, the reflection which first comes to mind has to do with the inexorable passage of time. 'Time flies irretrievably', as the ancient Latin poet put it. Man is immersed in time; he is born, lives and dies within time. Birth establishes one date, the first of his life, and death another, the last: the 'alpha' and the 'omega', the beginning and end of his history on earth. The Christian tradition has emphasized this by inscribing these two letters of the Greek alphabet on tombstones. But if the life of each of us is limited and fragile, we are consoled by the thought that, by virtue of our spiritual souls, we will survive beyond death itself. Moreover, faith opens us to a 'hope that does not disappoint' (cf. Rom 5:5), placing us before the perspective of the final resurrection. It is no coincidence that the Church, at the solemn Easter Vigil, uses the same two Greek letters in reference to Christ who lives yesterday, today and for ever: He is 'the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages'. Human experience, although subject to time, is set by Christ against the horizon of immortality. He 'became a man among men, in order to join the beginning to the end, man to God'." (Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Elderly, 1999) 

Also See: Scripture for Seniors

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