Respect Life Month: the Elderly

10-09-2022Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the first Sunday of October the Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Sunday. We are encouraged to focus on the Church’s teachings on human life. As Catholics, we believe that every human person is made in the image and likeness of God. Every human life is therefore sacred and inviolable and should be protected and cherished from conception until natural death. Practices such as abortion, assisted suicide, and capital punishment violate the dignity of the human person and must be rejected.

As a parish, I am grateful to the many people who give of their time caring for the young at our school and our faith formation programs. Still, there is a significant group in our parish that cannot be ignored. We owe the elderly our love, admiration, appreciation, and respect.
What is old age? At times it has been referred to the autumn of life. These are not always easy years due to physical and emotional constraints that can seem so heavy at times. In faith, however, it is these very years that can be lived with a sense of trust and surrender into the hands of God and His providential care for all His children.

At a papal audience many years ago, Pope Benedict spoke loudly about our duty to the elderly. “Every generation can learn from the experience and wisdom of the generation that preceded it. The provision of care for the elderly should be considered not so much as an act of generosity but as the repayment of a debt of gratitude.” That is certainly how I feel as I spend time with the elderly. We owe them that minimum amount of respect and gratitude.

The Book of Sirach reminds us that we must, “Remember, the parents of which you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you?” (Sir 7:28). Sirach also challenges us to, “take care of your father (and mother) when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Even if his mind fails, be considerate; revile him not in the fullness of your strength. For kindness to a father will not be forgotten, it will serve as a sin offering – it will take lasting root.” (Sir 3:12–14).

We have elderly family members that we are called to serve. Our parish is also blessed to several nursing homes in our parish boundaries with residents that are waiting for visitors like you! It is a wonderful gift to our youth to introduce them to the elderly. The elderly can lift history from textbook pages through their stories. They can also teach us to love as Jesus through their examples and by their current needs. May we grow in our love and respect for those members of our family and our parish community who have reached their golden years.

A Prayer for the Elderly

Gracious God, bless your children who have grown old. When they can no longer care for themselves, send them loving caretakers who appreciate their wisdom and experience. Send your angels to keep them safe and lead them home when their work is done. Bless their families with insight. Send your Spirit of Wisdom to help their families to make wise decisions, and grant them the patience to care for those who once cared for them. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.