Editor's Corner: We Are All Aging

From the youngest infant to the oldest ancient, we share one quality -- we are all aging! In fact, we are the oldest society in the history of the world. The life-span in every culture has been increasing for some time.

This expanding life-span will undoubtedly cause many changes: social, economic, psychological. Some are already asking questions such as: Does this mean that society will lose some of its flexibility for change? Will it have the creativity to adapt to the ever-increasing rate of change?

Some current literature on aging tells us that we (those over 65) have certain characteristics. Regarding time, there is an increased awareness that time is running out with no big chunks of it left. There is a certain attachment to the familiar. The elderly find security in those persons, places and things they have known for a long time. There is a desire to leave some kind of personal legacy. 'Did my life really make any difference? How would I like to be remembered?'

And the key question: 'Despite the normal aging process with its toll on physical, emotional resources, am I happy and contented? Am I growing old peacefully and gracefully, if not happily?'

Rarely, in all the research and study, is God's plan for our life mentioned. If the wise and merciful God has established a plan for my life, then I must be attuned to it, especially in its final stages.

St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians writes (1:4ff) that "God has chosen us in Christ before the world began to be holy and blameless in his sight . . . to be full of love."

God has chosen you by name. You are unique. He has chosen you to be someone and to do something. This has not changed from your baptismal day. Only the passage of time has changed.

You have been chosen in Christ. Your vocation is to relive the life of Christ -- especially in his Paschal Mystery. This great mystery, hidden for all the ages, preached by Paul, is the one in which we find our destiny. This means living your life in partnership with Christ -- to say with Paul, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

This issue of Compassion offers some insights on the spirituality of aging and some suggestions on how to seek a "loving heart."

Kilian McGowan, C.P.

Kilian McGowan, C.P. was founding editor of the Passionists Compassion and edited the magazine until his death in July, 1998

See also...

Social Gerontology and the Aging Revolution, a hypertext linked essay by Professor Michael C. Kearl, a member of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Provocative ideas and superb collection of links.

Walter J. Burghardt, S. J. On Turning Eighty

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