Calls the World to Honor the Elderly, Says Old Age Time of Grace
Emeritus, Benedict XVL, joined 40,000 elderly to hear Pope Francis
Pope Francis comforts elderly visitor to Mass
for elderly in St. Peter's Square.
Below story are links to video, Vatican Radio
report, coverage by Catholic Online
Sept. 30, 2014 - Pope Francis
celebrated Mass on Sunday morning in St Peter's Square, following a
special reception with an estimated 40,000 elderly men and women,
including the honored guest, Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.
In his homily, the 77-year old Holy Father spoke of the enormous –
indeed, indispensable - contribution that seniors make to society, most
importantly in their conservation of hard-earned wisdom and experience,
according to a report by Vatican Radio.
"There are times," said Pope
Francis, "when generations of young people, for complex historical and
cultural reasons, feel a deeper need to be independent from their
parents, 'breaking free', as it were, from the legacy of the older
Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI (left) greeted
by Pope Francis.
Nevertheless, if the meeting of
generations is lost and not re-established, and a "new and fruitful
intergenerational equilibrium is [not] restored," the inevitable result
will be, "serious impoverishment for everyone, and the freedom which
prevails in society is actually a false freedom, which almost always
becomes a form of authoritarianism."
Following is the full text of the
official translation of the Holy Father's prepared remarks.
“Today we accept the Gospel we have
just heard as a Gospel of encounter: the encounter between young and
old, an encounter full of joy, full of faith, and full of hope.
“Mary is young, very young.
Elizabeth is elderly, yet God’s mercy was manifested in her and for six
months now, with her husband Zechariah, she has been expecting a child.
“Here too, Mary shows us the way:
she set out to visit her elderly kinswoman, to stay with her, to help
her, of course, but also and above all to learn from her – an elderly
person – a wisdom of life.
“Today’s first reading echoes in
various ways the Fourth Commandment: ‘Honor your father and your mother,
so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is
giving you’ (Ex 20:12). A people has no future without such an
encounter between generations, without children being able to accept
with gratitude the witness of life from the hands of their parents. And
part of this gratitude for those who gave you life is also gratitude for
our heavenly Father.
“There are times when generations
of young people, for complex historical and cultural reasons, feel a
deeper need to be independent from their parents, ‘breaking free’, as it
were, from the legacy of the older generation. It is a kind of
adolescent rebellion. But unless the encounter, the meeting of
generations, is reestablished, unless a new and fruitful
intergenerational equilibrium is restored, what results is a serious
impoverishment for everyone, and the freedom which prevails in society
is actually a false freedom, which almost always becomes a form of
“We hear the same message in the
Apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy and, through him, to the Christian
community. Jesus did not abolish the law of the family and the passing
of generations, but brought it to fulfillment. The Lord formed a new
family, in which bonds of kinship are less important than our
relationship with him and our doing the will of God the Father. Yet the
love of Jesus and the Father completes and fulfils our love of parents,
brothers and sisters, and grandparents; it renews family relationships
with the lymph of the Gospel and of the Holy Spirit.
“For this reason, Saint Paul urges
Timothy, who was a pastor and hence a father to the community, to show
respect for the elderly and members of families. He tells him to do so
like a son: treating ‘older men as fathers’, ‘older women as mothers’
and ‘younger women as sisters’ (cf. 1 Tim 5:1).
“The head of the community is not
exempt from following the will of God in this way; indeed, the love of
Christ impels him to do so with an even greater love. Like the Virgin
Mary, who, though she became the mother of the Messiah, felt herself
driven by the love of God taking flesh within her to hasten to her
“And so we return to this ‘icon’
full of joy and hope, full of faith and charity. We can imagine that
the Virgin Mary, visiting the home of Elizabeth, would have heard her
and her husband Zechariah praying in the words of today’s responsorial
psalm: ‘You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth… Do
not cast me off in the time of old age, do not forsake me when my
strength is spent... Even to old age and grey hairs, O God, do not
forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come’
“The young Mary listened, and she
kept all these things in her heart. The wisdom of Elizabeth and
Zechariah enriched her young spirit. They were no experts in
parenthood; for them too it was the first pregnancy. But they were
experts in faith, experts in God, experts in the hope that comes from
him: and this is what the world needs in every age. Mary was able to
listen to those elderly and amazed parents; she treasured their wisdom,
and it proved precious for her in her journey as a woman, as a wife and
as a mother.”
“The Virgin Mary likewise shows us
the way: the way of encounter between the young and the elderly. The
future of a people necessarily supposes this encounter: the young give
the strength which enable a people to move forward, while the elderly
consolidate this strength by their memory and their traditional wisdom.”