More respect for wisdom & experience of the elderly

This is the Pope’s prayer intention for the month of February:

That the Church and society may respect the wisdom and experience of older people.

Getting started:

I find a quiet place and a comfortable position. I become aware of my breathing… I concentrate on my lungs as they become full and then empty while I draw air in and out. At this moment, I try to feel the presence of God and invite him into my heart.

Short story:

Notwithstanding his 91 years, Ċikku continued to spend whole days tilling his small field. However, though he was fully independent, his daughter Agnes treated him like a ten-year old. She did not trust him with anything…. neither with the cooking nor with the laundry. He wasn’t even allowed to draw money from the bank. She reasoned that since Ċikku was quite old, then his mind was not sound anymore. Agnes kept a watchful eye on her father, thus preventing Cikku from expressing any of his abilities.

Her son Stephen was Ċikku’s favourite nephew. They spent a lot of time together. Stephen’s eyes were frequently fixed on his grandfather as he recounted stories and explained the art of farming. One fine day, Ċikku decided to show Stephen a secret. In his bedroom, Cikku opened a small worn-out luggage bag and took out an old copybook.

Stephen’s curiosity took the better of him and he seized the old copybook from his grandfather’s hands. As soon as he opened the copybook, Stephen quickly saw that it was full of recipes. Ċikku explained that these recipes were his creations; in years gone by he was a respected cook, working for a Spanish count from whom he also learnt to speak Spanish. As he listened to a long story, Stephen also found out that his grandfather had invested money and that he was going to withdraw it in a few months’ time, together with the interests.

Back home, Stephen could not refrain from sharing grandpa’s story with his parents. Agnes could not believe what she heard. Angrily, she went to her father and confronted him for not telling her any of these stories. Calm as usual, her father answered, “I tried to show you that I can cook but you were afraid that I might get burned. I wanted to take you all to Spain and see where my money was invested, but you thought that I was too old to go abroad. I wish you would come to understand that I am still capable of taking care of myself”.

Time to reflect:

  • Do you know of any elderly person who is in a similar situation to Ċikku?
  • What is your outlook on elderly people, especially older family members?
  • How can you show more respect to old people in your family?

Let us pray:

Dear God, help us to realise what a treasure we have in elderly people. Help us to show them respect and to sustain them as they grow in wisdom and experience.


Age does not grow on its own; it is accompanied by wisdom and experience.

Hands on:

  • Call to mind an elderly person who has taught you some useful lessons about life.
  • Prepare a thanksgiving card and send it to him or her.
  • Spend some time with an elderly person; it might be a good idea if you go out for a walk together.