Pope Francis has selected a special intention for the month of December that he has often spoken of during his pontificate. “The Holy Father has asked the Pope’s Prayer Network – the Apostleship of Prayer – to pray for the elderly. And we pray that the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the Faith and forming the new generations,” says Fr. William Blazek SJ, Regional Director for Canada and the USA of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.
As Christmas approaches, we pay special attention to the elderly and those who might be sick or lonely during the holidays. “In the time that people are preparing for the celebration of the Nativity, we all look forward to family times and it might be a time to reconnect with grandparents or people outside the family, the extended family that may be traveling or may be isolated and not able to come to the ancestral home and we make visits to them wherever they are,” says Fr. Blazek.
We are called, young and old, to reach out to our brothers and sisters of all ages. “The Holy Father is quite keen that we pray, but he is also asking us that our prayer move us towards action for those who are capable. So we have members of the Apostleship of Prayer network who pray and are less able to get out. But those who are able to … many of us have talents or gifts we can bring. The Holy Father wants the young to look to the older for wisdom in this prayer and to look to the elderly for the experience they can share, helping to form new generations.”
The elderly hold the treasure of wisdom and experience that can greatly benefit the younger generations. “The elderly can serve as a font of resources – they can be praying but also sharing their knowledge and experiences with younger people who may lack those,” explains Fr. Blazek. “What the young have is energy, zeal, excitement; they may be able to visit a nursing home but they may lack the context or the history to understand what’s going on in people’s lives or how they can use their energy and zeal out in the broader world.”