Pope Francis Wisdom

A Story You Won’t Want To Miss

Vatican City from the air

A religious icon visits Canada to teach important lessons

I want to tell you a heartening story for us who are up there in age and often use assistive devices. It is also a call to people of all ages. Please pay attention.

As a progressive United Church of Christ minister, my religious orientation is far from that of Catholicism. However, Christianity’s roots are Catholic. Protestantism itself came out of the Roman church. 

So, a rant about Catholic theology and its sweeping restrictions is not helpful. But take a look at its widespread significance. There are 1.3 Billion Catholics in the world. In the Supreme Court of the United States, 6 out of 9 Justices are Catholic.

So if I were to challenge Catholicism’s beliefs, my voice would be one crying in the wilderness. Anyhow, that’s not the point of this article. Here, I am praising Pope Francis.

So many times, his contact with the oppressed and his pleas for economic justice have been remarkable.

“To all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity! No one can remain insensitive to the inequalities that persist in the world!” America-The Jesuit Review

 Today The Daily Beast reports

Pope Francis traveled to Canada on Sunday to ask for atonement for the hasty burial of hundreds of Indigenous children — some as young as 3 — who died in the Catholic Church’s care from the 19th century to the 1970s.

As meaningful as this trip was to Canada’s Indigenous and the entire North American population, the view of the Pope’s disability is more important for us.

The New York Times has extensive coverage of the trip with a significant headline:

Pope Francis, Slowed by Aging, Finds Lessons in Frailty
The Abuse of Canada’s Indigenous Children On a visit to Canada, the pontiff, 85, used his own vulnerability to demand…www.nytimes.com

Pope Francis struggles with the same things many of us do. He had intestinal surgery, and sciatica and torn knee ligaments plague him. Maybe he even has a pacemaker; who knows?

He flies from Italy to Canada and has to be carted around in a wheelchair. This trip says so much about aging and some of its challenges. That he does it with enthusiasm is certainly affirming to us.

In the article linked above, the report shows how he makes it clear.

While the pontiff’s main mission in Canada was what he called a “pilgrimage of penance,”…it was also a pilgrimage of senescence in which the pontiff, 85, used his own vulnerability to demand dignity for the aged in a world increasingly populated by them.

I had to look up ‘senescence,’ and I am glad I did because it is not complicated but essential. It is simply the process and experience of aging. That Pope Francis asserted the significance of it by revealing his difficulties is welcome.

I hope you will explore The Daily Beast and the New York Times links. Those stories reveal the significance of Pope Francis’ stance on social justice. But the emphasis for us in Life As We Age groups is ‘mandatory.’ If I can be so bold.

We usually write about how aging is not that bad. We try to find topics and prompts to encourage each other and those following us in the years to come. Taking this approach to aging is what we need to do.

But my essay asks us to sympathize with those not aging well physically. Not only to care about those others but to have more acceptance of personal senescence. Doing so will help us to move forward.

My spouse and I recently visited our daughter in DC. We traveled from Duluth by car to long-term parking at the Minneapolis St.Paul airport. Next, we took a shuttle from the parking to the arrivals area.

After struggling to get in and out of vans, I came to the airline assistance desk. As strangely embarrassing as it was, I welcomed them, pushing me in a wheelchair through security to our flight’s gate.

This experience was challenging, but I kept telling myself that nothing would stop me from traveling wherever and whenever.

I remember my mother quitting airline trips. I wondered why and would encourage her to make some. She refused. Now I know.

Going again is not in our immediate plans, but I will go. Pure masochism, you say? Maybe. But more importantly, it is that physical aging is a reality. Giving up on it is not an option I accept.

What about you? There is no shame in cutting back. Each of us has different pain and aggravation limits. Choosing other places to put your energy is fine.

Just remember, emulating the Pope is not at all necessary. However, finding your form of senescence is essential.

Photo reference: https://www.pexels.com/photo/aerial-view-of-vatican-city-3892129/

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