Thursday, September 9, 2021

How to Grow Old


"Even death is God’s creative work." A reporter writing for the Here and Now, Catholic Blog, writes about the thoughts of Sister Kim Hyo-seong from her interview with the sister. The religious sister is the author of the book Smile is my Calling dealing with the spirituality of the elderly. 


Focusing on the transcendence of old age will make a difference in the way the elderly are seen. Just as spring to summer is a vivid symbol of creation, so is autumn to winter. It is God's work that we have death! 


So for the believer, death is a creative activity of God. Can we happily accept old age and death? The Sister is not afraid of getting old and even excited. If you change your point of view that getting weaker and 

dying is not the end of your life, but the creation of the Lord, it is not sad to get old.


Based on this, she has been doing spiritual education since 2014 helping her prepare for convent life in her old age. Society and the church is getting old just because the elderly population increases, and she looked back on this point of view that saw this as a 'problem'. If we take a close look at the thought that a church must be full of young people, it may be we see the elderly as useless.


In society, often the abuse and dislike for the elderly continue. In the rapidly developing world, the value of old age is difficult to see positively. If we look at the elderly only from the problems they often face as if there are normal people and the elderly are people who deviate from that standard, problems will arise. 


"A society can tell how mature it is in the treatment of the socially disadvantaged, how the church or parish community treats the elderly reflects how they live the

gospel concretely."


In addition to biological, legal, and social age, there is an 'inner age'. The detachment or transcendence that is revealed in old age is not just a loss of spirit but "the figure of a philosopher who has matured 

naturally." Even though social welfare: pensions for the elderly and free subway fares have increased, the notion we can learn from those who have matured is still lacking in our society. If society had paid attention to the transcendence of old age early, the perception of the elderly would have changed. 


Not long ago, the Catholic Church decided to celebrate the International Day of Grandparents and the Elderly on the fourth Sunday of July every year. The Vatican emphasizes that "the ecclesial community always wants to be with the elderly" and issued pastoral guidelines for visiting grandparents and seniors living alone. Sister Kim said that the meaning of creating this day goes beyond simply caring for and helping the elderly, and has a broader meaning "to recognize that I am going to die someday, to see life in an integrated way by inserting old age into my life." "In a way, the ultimate goal of life is death, and it is a reality that each of us must achieve. Pope Francis is reminding us of our future by not forgetting the elderly in our lives and being with them." 


To grow old gracefully, is important not only to society and the church but also to the efforts of the aging 'me'. According to psychology, we grow from birth to death. Humans are born with 'human vitality', and 

"when this vitality is exerted and can make decisions on its own, it can grow at any time. Sister Kim emphasized, "First of all, I need to accept the reality of my body getting weaker as I get older, and then 

focus on how to take care of my weakened self." It's hard to see aging positively if you keep reminding yourself of the glory of being young and thinking you're not as good as before. 


In the Bible, the old person often appears as a prophet. Sister Kim believes that older people in the church could play these prophetic roles, with courageous remarks of an insightful prophet awakening those who are asleep. 


Sister said, "If you are over 65 and able to be active, you should have a prophetic function in your position." She stressed that solidarity and dialogue with young people are also essential if adults are to act as advisors and prophets in the church and not appear naive. The reason she accepted this interview is to fulfill this prophetic calling. It was an opportunity to spread the gospel quickly by borrowing the hands of the younger generation within the church. "There is no one-size-fits-all approach to aging," she said. Therefore, discovering each person’s own unique way of life and pace is the secret to a richer and more beautiful life in old age"

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