Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Growing Old Gracefully

We are all growing old: is there a way of doing this gracefully? In a bulletin for priests a Maryknoll priest writes about a one day seminar that the Maryknoll Fathers had in Korea at the end of last year-- conducted by Brother Wayne Fitzpatrick who is in charge of the Office of Life Long Formation for the Society.

Happiness for ourselves, and those we live with, depends a great deal on how we grow old. This is, no doubt, the thinking of the Society for preparing the one day seminar. We were given some articles to read; we heard a number of talks, Brother, asked some questions of the group and we discussed some  areas that he had covered in his talks.

One of the papers mentioned Carl Jung who said that in retirement the most important element is our spiritual outlook on life.  We  may be led to think that our strong points when young will be a great help in our retirement years, but Jung did not think this was the case. What was true when young is not necessarily so when old.

Many things change with time. We also have to change. We need to get  rid of harmful fixed ideas, and open ourselves to new ways of thinking. When we look back on our lives we recall many things we have learned, and because of them have become wiser. We know from experience that to die to ourselves is to begin living--Paschal Mystery. 

We should begin preparing for retirement when young. Without plans we will not know what to do and be confused when the time arrives. We should be able to go on doing what we want depending on the  condition of our health. 

There are those that after retirement adapt well to their new life but there are also those that do not.  Our health will have a lot to do with the way we enter retirement; old age and our bodily infirmities will have a big influence on our life, but our faith life is always there to give us strength. 

Being, is important, our natural disposition is more important than our external actions for with the right internal disposition the right actions will follow. Brother stressed the positive outlook on life, and listed 9 points that he wanted us to consider: attitude, love, friendships, keep on dreaming, forgive,  give ourselves to others, faith- gratitude for the gift of life, continue to discover the meaning of life, and achieving a balance in life.

We need leisure in life. Our spirit should not get old. We should learn to rest while working. "Pause a while and know that I am God...." Besides the activity in life we need to acknowledge  the receptivity in life. There is the possibility that we will be  faced with a time when we can only receive, and without  preparation in life this will be difficult. There has to be a balance between the active and the receptive which is a form of the contemplative life. 

This is not something that will come naturally but we have to prepare for it. Growing old gracefully is both a science and an art.                                 

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