It’s safe to say Pope Francis never aspired to be the subject of an essay on the Humble Sky blog. Then again, I never expected the Pope to speak my language. In pontificating about treatment of the elderly to a gathering of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on March 4, he said, “We are them.”
Very similarly, “Aging is about us not them” is a constant theme of Humble Sky; as is, “Everyone is aging, some of us just have more experience.”
The Pope added, “The elderly are not aliens … In a short or in a long while, we are inevitably them, even though we choose not to think about it.”
In the address to his weekly general audience, the Pope also echoed the Humble Sky message that individuals and society need to appreciate how and why our growing population of older adults provide opportunities for new purpose in life.
While admonishing those who do not give older adults the respect they deserve, he encouraged older adults, who have more free time at their disposal now than before, to be accountable as well. “It is not time to ‘rest on one’s oars’” and just coast along, he said.
When it comes to determining one’s new purpose as we age, the Pope acknowledged the difficulty we face. “Our societies are not ready — spiritually and morally — to give this period of life its full worth.” The disposable culture considers the elderly a burden or weight, since they do not produce, he said, noting too that the challenge is greater in Western societies that are marked by “a cult of youth, efficiency and profit, which tends to discard everything not considered productive or useful.”
Rather than being a burden, older adults are as the Bible says a “storehouse of wisdom,” the Pope concluded.
So, yeah, the Pope and Humble Sky are on the same page when it comes to making longevity a positive experience for all of us.
Parts of this essay are excerpted from articles in the National Catholic Register (3-4-15) and Catholic Herald (3-12-15).
Pope Francis is the first Pope to relate to today’s society.
When I remember how venerated Pope John Paul II was for his inclusiveness, I have to think that Francis has leapt far ahead in his progressive and empathetic embrace of things formerly outside the range of Catholic discourse and acceptance.