When old age and
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 23, 2015
have to be ready for these eventualities. We grow old, have
limitations and weaknesses. We commit mistakes. All these have effects
on our body, and since our body is always linked to our soul, they too
affect our soul, the way we think, judge, reason, understand, love,
etc. They can affect our spiritual life, our faith, etc.
We all suffer these things one way or another, sooner or later. But in
the meantime, let’s learn how to take care of ourselves and of one
another as we unavoidably approach these situations or go through them
The need to learn the art of caring, at once physical, emotional,
mental and spiritual, cannot be overemphasized. May we progress in
this department, at least to pace with the rapid development we see
around in the other dimensions and aspects of our life –
technological, social, professional, political, etc.
It should not be said that while we are making great strides in the
area of work and professional prestige, financial and social status,
etc., we still could be considered as primitive in this most basic
aspect of human life – the care we need when we suffer the unavoidable
limitations of our nature.
This should be the concern of everyone, but especially those who are
more educated, more endowed and more blessed with certain charisms.
Let’s see to it that we have the appropriate attitude and skills in
Some studies say that up to 15% of people over 65 and up to 40% of
those over 80 suffer from some form of dementia (Alzheimer, multiple
cerebral infarctions, Parkinson’s, etc.)
The symptoms are usually some degree of memory loss, impoverishment of
language, difficulty in remembering the name of objects or in
recalling words, inability to concentrate, temporal or spatial
disorientation, agitation, or loss of capacity for judgment.
There’s also some character, mood or behavioral changes and loss of
interest in things that previously mattered a lot to a person,
reduction in physical strength and general activity, increased
fatigue, slowness and unsteadiness in walking, fear and risk of
falling, lack of appetite, weight loss, depression, etc.
It’s important that we instill hope and empathize with these people
who are undergoing these conditions and help them to understand that
suffering has a meaning even if it is not fully understood. For this,
the example of Christ, and before him, Job, should be highlighted.
We need to listen to them even when they seem to be talking nonsense.
We have to encourage them to look at God and other people, since this
is the path to discovering the meaning of suffering.
Only in that way can suffering be understood as a sacrifice, a
tremendous gift, a redeeming trial or a clear proof of love. Let’s
remind ourselves that suffering can only be understood and appreciated
when seen more under the light of faith than of reason and the
sciences. And we should know how to convey this truth to those who
In the end, it’s Christian love, the love that comes from God, which
cures, or more properly said, ultimately resolves even our most
difficult, if not humanly insoluble, predicaments. What St. Paul said
about it is no exaggeration. “Charity bears all things, believes all
things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13,7)
I was happy to learn recently that Einstein, one of our greatest
scientists, wrote a letter to his daughter many years ago, which said
that the greatest force on earth certainly does not come from matter
nor from some natural source, but from love that comes from God.
This is a challenge to all of us when we have to deal with people,
usually those close to us like our relatives and friends, who suffer
some extreme forms of problems. It’s said that we can only give what
we have. So, if our faith in the love of God is not that strong or is
practically non-existent, then we cannot expect to convey the truth of
God’s love for us to others, nor to our own selves.
In short, we will surely fail in dealing with problems related to old
age or to difficult, if not incurable, illnesses. But since there is
always hope even in our most trying situations, we know that we can do
something about this.
Let’s hope that we can find time to build up our love of God and of
others by making an effort to pray, offer sacrifices, deepen our
faith, develop virtues, and acquire those skills of compassion and
empathy even as we avail of all medical help appropriate to the