JP II ENCOURAGMENT TO THE ELDERLY, THE SICK, AND THOSE WHO FEEL THEY HAVE LOST THEIR USEFULNESSby Julie Onderko on 11/12/15
For those persons who feel they have lost their usefulness and especially to the elderly, John Paul had this to say,
The Church still needs you…She (the Church) appreciates the services which you may wish to provide in many areas of the apostolate; she counts on the support of your longer periods of prayer; she counts on your advice born of experience, and she is enriched by your daily witness to the Gospel.[i]
In Pope John Paul’s Letter to the Elderly, he emphasizes that all the phases of life have their particular character and that every phase is a meaningful preparation for eternity. In the letter, he recounts the different periods of his life, drawing lessons from his own personal history.
Just as John Paul reached out to the many different groups in his lifetime (the youth, families, women, etc.), he writes this particular letter to the elderly with a deep desire to connect with them.
As an older person myself, I have felt the desire to engage in a conversation with you.[ii] I feel a spontaneous desire to share fully with you my own feelings at this point of my life, after more than twenty years of ministry on the throne of Peter and as we await the arrival, now imminent, of the Third Millennium. Despite the limitations brought on by age, I continue to enjoy life. For this I thank the Lord.[iii]
Let’s hope and pray that whether we are young or old, rich or poor, gifted or challenged, healthy or infirmed, we will be able to truthfully say with Pope Saint John Paul II,
It is wonderful to be able to give oneself to the very end for the sake of the kingdom of God! [iv]
[i] John Paul II, Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II To the Elderly. Rome 1999 (13).
[ii] Ibid., (17).
[iii] Ibid., (17).
[iv] Ibid., (17).