Rome (AsiaNews) - The "quality" of a society, "of a civilization is judged by how well older people are treated" and old age should not be lived in regret, because it is a gift of God as is the need to enlist the help of others "because it is a grace to be supported and accompanied."
Benedict XVI spoke of "our age" and "infirmities" this morning during his visit to the Community of Sant'Egidio home for the elderly on the Janiculum, Rome, on the occasion of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
Welcomed and surrounded by his "peers" the Pope spoke to them of the "veil of sadness" and "sometimes" covers the eyes of those who are getting on in years and are nostalgic for "when you were young and enjoyed fresh energy making plans for the future. " Instead, "it's nice to be elders" to have "the gift of a long life" which in the Bible "is considered a blessing from God." And "life is beautiful even at our age, despite 'ailments' and limitations. May our faces always express the joy of feeling loved by God, never sadness".
But today, "often society, dominated by the logic of efficiency and profit, does not accept it as such, and indeed often rejects it, considering older people as unproductive, useless. Many times you hear the suffering of those who are marginalized and living far from home or in solitude. I think there should be a greater commitment, starting from families and public institutions, to ensure that older people can stay in their homes. The wisdom of life which they bear is a great wealth. The quality of a society, I would say of a civilization, is judged by how well older people are treated and the place reserved for them in community life. Whoever makes room for the elderly makes room for life! Whoever welcomes the elderly welcomes life! ".
Because, even "when life becomes fragile, in old age, it never loses its value and dignity, each one of us, at any stage of existence, is wanted, loved by God, everyone is important and necessary" .
Citing the current European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations, the Pope said that "the elderly are a value to society, especially for young people. There can be no true human growth and education without a fertile contact with the elderly, because their very existence is like an open book in which the younger generation can find valuable guidance for life's journey".
"This phase of life - said Benedict XVI as he bid farewell - is also a gift to deepen our relationship with God. The example of Blessed John Paul II was and still is enlightening for everyone. Do not forget that among the valuable resources that you have is the essence of prayer: become intercessors with God, praying with faith and constancy. Pray for the Church, for me, for the needs of the world, for the poor, so that there may be no more in the world. The prayer of the elderly can protect the world, perhaps helping it in a more incisive way than the toil of many. Today I would like to entrust to your prayers the good of the Church and world peace. "