Old age

The period of old age and great age is often perceived, in the first place, as a period of losses and stripping. It is as if the beatitude of poverty was rooted in us through the body, both on the physical and the psychological and mental levels.
It needs courage and a lot of faith to see this period of impoverishment as a very authentic manner of living our vocation of Nazareth: it is in a totally new way that we ourselves are placed on the level of the poor, the “little ones”, and that we can live in solidarity with them. The brothers who live in retirement homes have, perhaps, the strongest experience of this: as one person among all the others it is still possible to live to the end giving love, offering attention, listening and respect.
In this true solidarity, one can still find joy, cheerfulness and humour, giving and receiving vitality and an unexpected spiritual tonic.
Our life seeks to unify itself around love, and it is this that gives it its meaning all through the years; but this dynamism of growth is expressed in a different way at each stage. Old age is no longer the time for projects, nor for full activity, but it remains no less a period of human and spiritual maturing of the meaning of life.
This is probably a time when we are invited to grow in abandonment, to let go, to accept having empty hands: it is not a matter of doing an evaluation of what we have done and produced, nor of our shortcomings and weaknesses. It is, rather, to look at Jesus whom we have wanted to love each day and abandon ourselves in confidence: "You know everything, you know very well that I love you". So we can look at ourselves, others and the world around us with a more reconciled and a more tender view, enlightened by hope. That is the gift older people offer to those around them. "In old age they still bear fruit, they remain fresh and flourishing" (Psalm 92:15).