A little girl was declaring to her grandmother
how embarrassed she was because of
on her face. The old woman smilingly
her, telling her that freckles are
that she desired to have freckles when
was a little girl.
The girl was surprised. The grandma,
her case, asked, “Just tell me one
that’s prettier than freckles.” And
little girl peered into the old woman’s
face, softly she confessed, “Wrinkles”.
Freckles, wrinkles, whatever… old age
be beautiful. We live in an age of
demographic change. If projections
true, by the year 2050, the population
older persons will be larger than the
of children under 14!
Old age normally means physical ailments,
loneliness, a sense of marginalization.
a world which values productivity so
elderly people are often deemed unproductive
and, indeed, are too often considered
The Church begs to differ. The numerous
for old people run by religious sisters
already an authoritative statement.
though the Church strongly believes
the place of the elderly is within
families, since many families cannot
not want to do it, the Church maintains
over 12,000 nursing homes for the aged.
universities and hospitals have been
in research in gerontology and in designing
Its view of aging is deeply rooted
tradition. In the Old Testament, a
is seen as one of the signs of God’s
among his people (Isaiah 65:20).
Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Tobit, Eleazar…
appear in the Scriptures when they
Even the New Testament starts its story
introducing us to an elderly married
Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents
the Baptist. When in accordance with
Law, Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to
him as their first-born son, it is
Simeon and an eighty-four year old
who rejoice in the Lord for His faithfulness.
In his old age, Pope John Paul II wanted
to share his own personal experience
the elderly in a Letter he wrote. It
very beautiful letter in which he shares
how old age is “the final stage of
maturity and a sign of God’s blessing.”
is part of the journey.
“Saint Ephrem the Syrian liked to compare
our life to the fingers of a hand,
emphasize that its length is no more
a span, and to indicate that each phase
life, like the different fingers, has
Yes, old age has its own benefits.
a time of simplicity and contemplation;
Saint Jerome observes, with the quieting
of the passions, old age increases
and brings more mature counsels.”
I remember coming across this beautiful
in the book ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’.
“The question is asked, “Is there anything
more beautiful in life than a boy and
clasping clean hands and pure hearts
path of marriage? Can there be anything
beautiful than young love?”
“And the answer is given. “Yes, there
a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle
of an old man and an old woman finishing
their journey together on that path.
hands are gnarled, but still clasped;
faces are seamed, but still radiant;
hearts are physically bowed and tired,
still strong with love and devotion
another. Yes, there is a more beautiful
than young love. Old love.”
Being on the threshold of eternity,
forces a person to look towards infinity.
The question that always lingered in
mind of Matthew was whether anybody
see God. He asked his parents, his
his sister but no one gave him any
Until one day he was playing with his
grandfather. Again he asked his question
whether anyone has ever seen God.
The old man did not even turn his head.
long time passed before he quietly
“Matthew…” Lengthy pause. And then
“Son, it’s getting so I can’t see anything
The quality of our old age will depend
our perception of faith. “Beautiful
are acts of nature,” it has been said,
beautiful old people are works of art.”
know, my mother is now 85 and she is
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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