Amoris Laetitia 191: Elderly Persons

amoris laetitia memeIn this section, the Holy Father turns his attention to older members of our families. There is certainly a public policy issue for communities and nations in how we treat the eldertly and care for them. Families are not without responsibilities, however. No matter how much or how well senior citizens are cared for by the government or by a private agency, loved ones have lost no responsibility.

191. “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Ps 71:9). This is the plea of the elderly, who fear being forgotten and rejected. Just as God asks us to be his means of hearing the cry of the poor, so too he wants us to hear the cry of the elderly.(Cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 17-18) This represents a challenge to families and communities, since “the Church cannot and does not want to conform to a mentality of impatience, and much less of indifference and contempt, towards old age. We must reawaken the collective sense of gratitude, of appreciation, of hospitality, which makes the elderly feel like a living part of the community. Our elderly are men and women, fathers and mothers, who came before us on our own road, in our own house, in our daily battle for a worthy life”.(Catechesis (4 March 2015)) Indeed, “how I would like a Church that challenges the throw-away culture by the overflowing joy of a new embrace between young and old!”(Catechesis (11 March 2015))

Pope Francis lists six qualities to contrast. Impatience, indifference, and contempt versus gratitude, appreciation, and hospitality. These latter three, the virtues, are not a matter of “feeling” something toward an older person. They involve an active choice. Children, grandchildren, and others can choose to be thankful, can express appreciation, and can show a welcoming attitude. Interior struggles may persist, but that does not negate the need for fostering the positives of a relationship.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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