Posted October 04, 2012 in The Pope's Corner:
The Vocation of the Elderly

by Pope John Paul II.

To turn our attention to the aging is to realize how much they are a part of God’s plan for the world, with their mission to fulfill, their unique contribution to make, their problems to solve, their burdens to bear.

The Catholic Church willingly lends her support to efforts that encourage the elderly themselves to look with realism and serenity on the role that God has assigned to them.

With the wisdom and experience of their lives, they have entered a period of extraordinary grace, with new opportunities for prayer and union with God.

They have been endowed with new spiritual power with which to serve others and to make a fervent offering of their lives to the Lord and Giver of life.

To proclaim the missions of the elderly and thereby to promote their special role in the human family is a task of great importance. The elderly are meant to be part of the social scene; their very existence gives an insight into God’s creation and the functioning of society.

Old age is able to enrich the world through prayer and counsel: its presence enriches the home; its immense capacity for evangelization, by word and example and by activities eminently adapted to the talents of the elderly, is a force for the Church of God yet to be thoroughly understood or adequately utilized.

In the context of the Catholic faith, my thoughts turn to all the elderly of the Church, who with serenity and joy give the example of earnest Christian living, while at the same time manifesting an appreciation of the mystery of human death, realistically to be accepted, but radically transformed in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus.

My thoughts go to all who are bent under the weight of sickness or incapacity, rejection or fear.

In prayer and with fraternal love, I entrust them all to the Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, to the Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection.

Excerpted from an address at the end of a Mass at Castel Gandolfo for the participants in the International Forum on Active Aging, September 5, 1980



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