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Do not fear asking for and accepting help. Your dependency can be an occasion of grace both for yourself and for others. Second, we address those who are widowed: We mourn with you in the loss of your beloved spouse. Even in the midst of family and friends, you experience an emptiness that will never be completely filled. You may deal with confusing emotions including anger at your lost loved one, yourself, or God. We understand that the first year is especially difficult, as birthdays and anniversaries bring bittersweet memories.
Gradually the good days will outnumber the bad, but this healing process takes time and patience. Although social interaction can be difficult, we urge you to stay in contact with your faith community. Many parishes offer bereavement groups and other support for those who are widowed. Many of you tell us that working through your grief is the hardest thing that you have ever done.
You speak of coming to the realization that since your own life goes on, God must have a plan and a purpose for you. You draw strength and direction from prayer, Scripture, and the sacraments. Many find renewed meaning in reaching out to others, especially those who have suffered similar losses.
Perhaps these words from one of the Church Fathers will bring you comfort: They whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are. John Chrysostom. Growing in holiness means dealing with life's inevitable losses. More positively, growth in holiness leads to wisdom. Although many cultures revere older people for their wisdom, wisdom does not come automatically with age. The experiences of a lifetime have sown the seeds, but they must be cultivated by prayer and reflection on those experiences in light of the Gospel.
With God's grace, as one matures, one arrives at wisdom: the realization that we come from God and are going to God. Or as St. Augustine said, "Our hearts were made for you, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you. The wise person is always connecting the past with the future.
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Elders share their stories, and in doing so, pass on what they have learned to future generations, through both words and example. Their wisdom does not die with them but guides and enriches generations to come. People become holy within a community. For most people, including older persons, the primary community is the family.
You rejoice in additions to your family circle—daughters- and sons-in-law, grandchildren, great nieces and nephews. You pass on your family's cultural heritage through stories, celebrations and rituals. You worry about a child's divorce or a grandchild's exposure to drugs and violence. Some of you find yourselves in unexpected situations, such as caring for older family members or at the other end of the spectrum, for grandchildren. In the midst of change, you are often a point of stability, a steadfast example of faith deepened by the joys and heartaches of family life.
For many, these are profound experiences of God's love and care.
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Some of you experience the special joys of grandparenting. Freed from the responsibilities of day-to-day parenting, you give young family members the gift of unhurried time and attention. With the experience of years you can continue to encourage children to develop new skills or talents and to make important life decisions. You may be one of the last members of your family tree. Adult children may move away. You yourself may relocate. Spouses and siblings may pass away. After many years of normal family activity, you may feel alone, even abandoned by those you love most.
Many older people turn to parishes and parish-based small groups to find the community they need.
As a family of families, the parish connects older adults with each other and with other generations. The parish provides spiritual and sacramental nourishment as well as social and service opportunities. Even here, however, some older people feel isolated or excluded. If you are confined to home or to an assisted living facility, parish visitation teams can keep you connected with the faith community. The staff and residents of such a facility might become another community for you. Some of your peers may feel isolated because of a lack of transportation to parish activities.
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Perhaps someone you know simply needs a personal invitation, a reassurance that he or she is wanted and welcomed. Especially during transition times people need the support of a caring community, but they can hesitate to reach out for it. If you have received the gift of such a community, we ask you to share it with other older adults.
For example, invite them to attend Sunday Mass and if possible, offer them a ride. Offer to introduce them at the next meeting of the parish seniors group. Invite them to help make sandwiches for the local soup kitchen. Reach out to another person, and draw him or her into a caring community. Finally, the faith community can be the fertile soil in which life-giving friendships blossom.
Here you often find men and women who share your values and experiences—people who understand the particular losses and fears of later life but whose faith gives them strength and courage.tf.nn.threadsol.com/map223.php
9 Powerful Gifts of the Spirit From the Bible
These friendships, often unexpected, can lighten the cares and multiply the joys of later life. Older persons have a responsibility, commensurate with health, abilities, and other obligations, to undertake some form of service to others. The children have left home, and your retirement celebration has been held. Since most workers retire before age 65, a retiree can expect to have fifteen or more years for volunteering and other activities.
You can be tempted to turn inward, to focus solely on pursuing hobbies and leisure activities as the well-deserved fruits of your labor. But you also have the opportunity to give something back, to make a significant contribution to your Church and community and in doing so, to enrich your own life. We, the bishops, state this clearly: Older persons have a responsibility, commensurate with health, abilities, and other obligations, to undertake some form of service to others. You have already rendered generous service to family members and others.
Now you can continue and perhaps extend that service to help meet pressing needs in society and in the Church. Possibilities abound, from simple things like giving a neighbor a ride to the doctor, to more extensive volunteer opportunities in schools, museums, health care facilities, community shelters, and outreach programs such as Meals on Wheels.
Your parish also needs and wants you to serve on pastoral and finance councils, to lead Bible study groups, to teach the young, to visit parish members living in health care facilities, and to console the bereaved.
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You can also invite the younger members of your family and parish to consider a vocation to ministry as a priest or a religious or a lay minister. In some ethnic groups, older persons play an especially important role in encouraging younger people to enter church service. The service of the gospel has nothing to do with age" nos. Even if you are frail or homebound, your service to others can continue.
You may now have the time to admire a child's drawings or praise a report card. You may be able to speak more honestly with family members or friends as they deal with sensitive issues.
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You may feel called to pray for the needs of your parish. You may want to pray about what you read in the newspaper or what you hear on the news. Ultimately, your example of steadfast faith in the midst of suffering can be a lasting gift to family and friends. What younger person, having witnessed the grace-filled final days of a parent or grandparent, cannot be attracted to that same faith?
We encourage you, and all of us, to find innovative ways in which to use the gifts and experience of older persons. As the Church and society grapple with difficult moral questions such as end-of-life issues and public policy concerns such as health care and Social Security , the voices of Catholic seniors who have studied and reflected on these matters need to be heard. You are your own best advocates! Writing letters to the media and elected officials, speaking out at community forums, and developing grassroots organizations of seniors are some ways in which older persons can make a difference.
We also encourage increased opportunities for intergenerational activities. Mentoring a younger person is one example; so, too, are projects that draw on the combined skills of several generations.
As bishops, we warn against a society and a Church that, however unintentionally, pits young against old. We do not believe that resources are so limited that the gains of one group come only through the losses of another group. Intergenerational activities can promote an appreciation of each generation's gifts and lessen misunderstanding and conflict between generations. My son, take care of your father when he is old; grieve him not as long as he lives. Sir Increasing numbers of people are caring for relatives who need assistance.
A survey found that one U. The lives of older persons and caregivers are intertwined: what helps one helps the other. We now speak to caregivers: Some of you may have devoted your lives to this calling.