Spirituality for Today – September 2015 – Volume 20, Issue 2

The Importance of Aging Well

Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of two senior citizens walking

In September, I am given cause to consider the process of aging. Why not! My birthday falls on the third day of the month – the feast day of Saint Gregory the Great. No wonder that I think highly of myself. Well, maybe not. Interestingly, the topic of aging and the ways to stem the tide never go out of fashion. Health tips occupy the major portion of overnight infomercials. Here I am worried about the aches and pains and illnesses besetting me when all I need to do is to buy one or all of the myriad products offered on those commercials – mostly blenders (unless you want flatter abs). The reality of turning sixty-eight years old goes far beyond machines and workout techniques. When you are young, you tell your body what to do; when you are old, your body tells you what to do. The truth of it is that the body is doing exactly what it was created to do and it is hoped that the mind and soul are about their business too.

There was an article in last October's St. Anthony Messenger, A Catholic Mom Speaks by Susan Hines Brigger concerning the topic of health. She was concerned about her family's eating habits and finally decided to do something about it. The biblical notion about the body being a temple formed a spiritual basis for creating a plan for healthful eating for her family. The emphasis was on an encompassing approach to being healthier in mind, body, and spirit. She called on her relatives and friends who are nutrition conscious to get together in cooking a wide number of meals and to provide tips for cooking more healthfully. When it comes to ideas about reaching out to others regarding the value of a meal, it is not surprising that Mass oriented Catholics would want to get together in community to achieve their goals.

I am always impressed when I see young mothers and fathers with young children becoming enthusiastic about their family's well–being. If many of you, as I am, are to be counted among the older folk, this unbounded enthusiasm for modifications in one's diet is a much rarer commodity. Unless a doctor recommends change and you have a disease that requires such adjustments in eating habits, we are radically opposed to such an un–American opinion. Just take two cheddar cheese goldfish four times a day along with generous portions of ice cream and all will be well. Seriously, temptations toward "comfort foods" and a growing disrelish for exercise are dominant obstacles for the perky and zealous attitudes of the young to grasp. When you add pain to a general lack of energy, it's hard to start the motor.

The silver lining to the cloud of growing old can be found in that bit of wisdom drawn from all those years of experience as well as a very wise concern for one's spiritual condition. The closer we come to that day of parting, the more essential the quality of our relationship becomes with the One to whom we pray will judge us as meriting eternal life in his love. Of course, this concern ought to mark our entire lives, but each of us might find that we become particularly alert to this circumstance as the world concerns appear to be more illusory, we necessarily begin to open our eyes toward eternal verities.

Live in the Spirit of God, making the best things, in the best possible way, for the best purposes. Even a child can understand these ideas, yet a great mind cannot improve upon them.

Theodore Parker

As a concluding thought, I hope to impress upon our minds the importance of taking care of ourselves. If we are encouraged to devote such an enormous amount of time and effort in caring for that which is passing, how much more we must commit ourselves to that which is eternal. Remember to engage in those good old spiritual exercises and those spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In that, we have a truly worthwhile and a most beneficial "workout." When we stand before the Lord in that timelessness to come, we ought to be in good shape.