The Pope’s prayer intention for the month of July 2022 focuses on the elderly. He invites us all to pray for them - “We pray for the elderly, who represent the roots and memory of a people; may their experience and wisdom help young people to look towards the future with hope and responsibility.”
Elderly people can be anyone from our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, to our friends, neighbours and teachers. They have experienced a lot - hardship, pain, sorrow and joy - and their wisdom cannot be watered down or wiped away from our memory. Instead, we need to treasure them. The younger generation must care and be concerned about the well-being of the elderly, especially those within their family. They must not ignore or neglect them, despite their busy schedules and hectic lives.
Do youngsters give respect, honour and dignity to the elderly? Do they make it a point to sit with the elderly and pray with them or for them? Do they listen to their stories and enjoy their company? Or are the old people in our community neglected and lonely? We need to teach young people - especially our children - to respect and honour the elderly people in our family and community. We must show them love and support in every way, even with little things such as calling, visiting, helping with chores or assisting them in their pastoral needs.
During his General Audience (Wednesday, 23 February 2022) the Holy Father, Pope Francis reminded us that the elderly are not “throwaway material” but “they are a blessing for society.” We realise that there is a lack of encouragement and a lack of education amongst younger people to learn or to discern the meaning and value of old age. The younger generation should take every opportunity to learn from their elders, who have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with them.
In return, elderly people can learn something for themselves from the youngsters. In this digital era where everything is electronic, the elderly find it tough to keep up with modern technology and social media. The older generation should learn to connect with their friends and family through technology and social media. They can develop new skills, learn new things and maintain an active and social lifestyle.
The month of July marks the second half of the year 2022. This weekend, our 9-day Novena celebration comes to an end with the Thanksgiving Mass to St Thomas. As we continue our momentum throughout the second half of this year, may we all - young and old - seek to deepen our faith and build a relationship with one another and with Jesus Christ. Let us not feel exhausted, inactive, unmotivated or alienated. Instead, let us learn from one another and stay connected through mutual love and respect, especially towards those in their golden years.