Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Holy Mass Online - Readings and Video : Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - #Eucharist in Your Virtual Church



Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
Lectionary: 331
Reading I
Gn 2:4b-9, 15-17
At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens 
while as yet there was no field shrub on earth
and no grass of the field had sprouted,
for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth
and there was no man to till the soil, 
but a stream was welling up out of the earth
and was watering all the surface of the ground
the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.
Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and he placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
 
 The LORD God then took the man
and settled him in the garden of Eden,
to cultivate and care for it.
The LORD God gave man this order:
“You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden
except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 
From that tree you shall not eat;
the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”
Responsorial Psalm
104:1-2a, 27-28, 29bc-30
R.    (1a)  O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
    O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
    robed in light as with a cloak.
R.    O bless the Lord, my soul!
All creatures look to you
    to give them food in due time.
When you give it to them, they gather it;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
R.    O bless the Lord, my soul!
If you take away their breath, they perish
    and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
    and you renew the face of the earth. 
R.    O bless the Lord, my soul!
Alleluia
See Jn 17:17b, 17a
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth:
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel
Mk 7:14-23
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.” 
When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
“Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”
People who cannot communicate now make spiritual communion
At your feet, O my Jesus I bow down and offer you the repentance of my contrite heart, which abysses itself into its nothingness and Your holy presence. I adore you in the Sacrament of Your love, the ineffable Eucharist. I wish to receive you in the poor home that my heart offers you. In anticipation of the happiness of sacramental communion, I want to possess you in spirit. Come to me, oh my Jesus, that I may come to you. May Your love inflame my whole being, for life and death. I believe in you, I hope in you, I love you. So be it. Amen

Saint February 10 : St. Scholastica, Twin Sister of St. Benedict and the Patron of Nuns and Storms - with Novena Prayer


Feast Day:
February 10
Born:
480, Nursia, Italy
Died:
543
Patron of:
convulsive children; nuns; invoked against storms and rain

BENEDICTINE ABBESS AND FOUNDER, VIRGIN
“St. Gregory tells us that St. Benedict governed nuns as well as monks, and it seems clear that St. Scholastica must have been their abbess, under his direction. She used to visit her brother once a year and, since she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he used to go with some of his monks to meet her at a house a little way off. They spent these visits praising God and in conversing together on spiritual matters.
“St. Gregory gives a remarkable description of the last of these visits. After they had passed the day as usual they sat down in the evening to have supper. When it was finished, Scholastica, possibly foreseeing that it would be their last interview in this world, begged her brother to delay his return till the next day that they might spend the time discoursing of the joys of Heaven. Benedict, who was unwilling to transgress his rule, told her that he could not pass a night away from his monastery. When Scholastica found that she could not move him, she laid her head upon her hands which were clasped together on the table and besought God to interpose on her behalf.
“Her prayer was scarcely ended when there arose such a violent storm of rain with thunder and lightning that St. Benedict and his companions were unable to set foot outside the door. He exclaimed, ‘God forgive you, sister; what have you done?’ Whereupon she answered, ‘I asked a favour of you and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it.’
“Benedict was therefore forced to comply with her request, and they spent the night talking about holy things and about the felicity of the blessed to which they both ardently aspired and which she was soon to enjoy.
“The next morning they parted, and three days later St. Scholastica died. St. Benedict was at the time alone in his cell absorbed in prayer when, lifting up his eyes, he saw his sister’s soul ascending to Heaven as a dove. Filled with joy at her happiness, he thanked God and announced her death to his brethren. He then sent some of the monks to fetch her body which he placed in a tomb which he had prepared for himself.”
Edited from Butler's Lives of the Saints
Prayer in honor of St. Scholastica
In this short prayer in honor of Saint Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict of Nursia, patron saint of Europe, we ask God to grant us the grace to live our lives in imitation of Saint Scholastica's virtues. Amen.
St. Scholastica Novena 

Opening Prayer
St. Scholastica, God granted your request because of your great love. I ask now that you turn to God with my request out of your great love for Him and your great love for me.

(State your intentions here)
 Each day of the Novena say 1 Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

Day 1:
Love is patient (1 Cor. 13:4). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by becoming more patient.

Day 2:
Love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by becoming more kind.

Day 3:
Love is not jealous (1 Cor. 13:4). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by becoming more grateful, and by overcoming my disordered desires for the goods or traits of my neighbor.

Day 4:
Love is not pompous or inflated (1 Cor. 13:4). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by becoming more humble.

Day 5:
Love is not rude (1 Cor. 13:5). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by becoming more courteous in mind and speech.

Day 6:
Love does not seek its own interests (1 Cor. 13:5). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by seeking God’s will and the interests of others before my own.

Day 7:
Love is not quick-tempered (1 Cor. 13:5). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by gaining greater control over my emotions.

Day 8:
Love does not brood over injury (1 Cor. 13:5). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by more readily forgiving those who have hurt me.

Day 9:
Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:4). Through God’s grace, help me, St. Scholastica, to grow in love by honoring the good in others and never celebrating another’s shame.

Closing Prayer
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:7-8). St. Scholastica, you were a great witness to this truth. Help me to believe it more fully and to live it out each day. Amen.

Wow - Oldest Nun in the World and the Oldest Person in Europe Recovers from Covid-19 and Turns 117


In mid-January 2021, the Catholic nun Sister André tested positive for the corona virus. She herself hadn't even noticed before that she was infected. 
Sr. André is the 2nd oldest person in the world after a 118-year-old Japanese woman. 
For several years she has been the oldest religious woman in the world.
 
The soon to be 117-year-old Vincentian lives in the Saint Catherine Labouré nursing home in Toulon, France. She recovered from the infection well and will have her birthday on February 11th and be able to celebrate her birthday. This was reported by the French Catholic weekly magazine “Famille chretienne”.  Many of the other Sisters contracted the virus and 10 of them died. 
 The nun was born in 1904 with her real name Lucile Randon. She grew up in a family that did not practice Christianity, even though one of her grandfathers had been a Protestant pastor.
 In 1923, she received baptism and first communion at her own request. Lucile entered the novitiate in 1944 and worked in hospitals and social institutions until 1979. Despite blindness and hearing difficulties, and despite the fact that she is dependent on outside help and a wheelchair, she has an intact memory and jokes a lot. Outside of the pandemic, she attends in Holy Mass daily  and participates in common evening prayer.

February is Black History Month - Free Resources, Prayers and #BlackHistory to Share!


Timely Ministry Resources for Black Catholics

African American Affairs E-Newsletter Archive

View past and current issues in the e-newsletter archive.

Addressing Racism

National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) XII Pastoral Plan of Action - Read the Pastoral Plan of Action. . . which was developed by delegates who were appointed by bishops from every diocese in the United States. These women and men brought the concerns and needs of their local communities, and worked together to develop a list of pastoral priorities.
 Brothers and Sisters to Us - The pastoral letter on racism by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 1979 explains how racism divides society. The Executive Summary Report on the 25th Anniversary of the U.S. Bishop's Pastoral Letter on Racism outlines the Church's progress in meeting the goal outlined in the pastoral letter.
Pastoral Statements from 1958-2018 - Read statements issued/approved by USCCB and its predecessors about the sin of racism:
Find more information and resources regarding the issue of racism on USCCB's Combatting Racism webpage.

Prayer & Liturgical Resources

Foundational Materials

Below are additional foundation materials:

Marriage and Family Life Ministry

      

Young Adult Catholics

       
Read the report from the 2015 Black Catholic Young Adult Listening Session and related material at the Young Adult Resources webpage.

Multimedia

Below are some video and audio resources available:

Torture Awareness Month and International Day of Support of Victims of Torture

June is Torture Awareness Month and June 26 is the International Day of Support of Victims of Torture. The focus of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), a USCCB partner, now includes ending torture in U.S. prisons and campaigning against solitary confinement. Help end torture in U.S. policy, practice and culture by downloading a free toolkit of resources from NRCAT. . . .

Additional Resources

On The Road to Sainthood - Pray for holy men and women on the road to sainthood.
FULL TEXT Release from US Bishops - USCCB

New Research Shows that the Pandemic has Strengthened Religious Faith by 28%



The Pew Research centre reports that more Americans than people in other advanced economies Say COVID-19 has strengthened Religious Faith.
Nearly three-in-ten U.S. adults say the outbreak has boosted their faith; about four-in-ten say it has tightened family bonds

How we did this
Americans most likely to say pandemic has made their religious faith strongerAs the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause deaths and disrupt billions of lives globally, people may turn to religious groups, family, friends, co-workers or other social networks for support. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in the summer of 2020 reveals that more Americans than people in other economically developed countries say the outbreak has bolstered their religious faith and the faith of their compatriots.
Nearly three-in-ten Americans (28%) report stronger personal faith because of the pandemic, and the same share think the religious faith of Americans overall has strengthened, according to the survey of 14 economically developed countries.
Far smaller shares in other parts of the world say religious faith has been affected by the coronavirus. For example, just 10% of British adults report that their own faith is stronger as a result of the pandemic, and 14% think the faith of Britons overall has increased due to COVID-19. In Japan, 5% of people say religion now plays a stronger role in both their own lives and the lives of their fellow citizens.
Majorities or pluralities in all the countries surveyed do not feel that religious faith has been strengthened by the pandemic, including 68% of U.S. adults who say their own faith has not changed much and 47% who say the faith of their compatriots is about the same.
Some previous studies have found an uptick in religious observance after people experience a calamity. And a Pew Research Center report published in October 2020 showed that roughly a third (35%) of Americans say the pandemic carries one or more lessons from God.
When it comes to questions about strength of religious belief, the wide variation in responses across countries may reflect differences in the way people in different countries view the role of religion in their private and public lives.
European countries experienced rapid secularization starting in the 19th century, and today, comparatively few people in Italy (25%), the Netherlands (17%) or Sweden (9%) say that religion is very important in their lives.1 East Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea have low rates of religious affiliation and observance – at least by Western-centric measures.
The state of the pandemic during the summer 2020 survey period
Pew Research Center’s survey was conducted June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, when all of the countries surveyed were under social distancing and/or national lockdown orders due to COVID-19. Even though the coronavirus is a global pandemic, not all countries have experienced the disease in the same way. During the fielding period, AustraliaJapan and the United States had rising numbers of infections, while Italy and some other European countries had started to recover from the large number of cases reported in April and May. Nearly all countries surveyed experienced significant spikes in infections and deaths in the fall and winter.
The worsening of the pandemic, including tightening restrictions after the survey was conducted, may have affected views of faith and family since the summer of 2020. Attitudes also may continue to shift as the pandemic evolves. Nevertheless, if the differences between the U.S. and other economically developed countries on religion-related questions have deeper roots, they may persist even as the pandemic wears on, and the same may be true of differences between demographic groups within countries.
The United States recently has experienced some trends toward secularization, including a growing share of the population that does not identify with any religion and a shrinking share of people who say they regularly attend a church or other house of worship. Still, religion continues to play a stronger role in American life than in many other economically developed countries. For example, nearly half of Americans (49%) say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 20% in Australia, 17% in South Korea and just 9% in Japan.Many in countries hit hard by COVID-19 say the pandemic has tightened family bondsIn nearly every country surveyed, those who say religion is very important in their lives are more likely to say both their own faith and that of their compatriots has grown due to the pandemic. Americans’ greater proclivity to turn to religion amid the pandemic is largely driven by the relatively high share of religious Americans (In several countries, those who say religion is somewhat, not too or not at all important to them personally are less likely take a clear position either way on how their faith has been affected by the pandemic.)
Religion is just one of many aspects of life that have been touched by the pandemic. Family relationships, too, have been affected by lockdowns, economic turmoil and the consequences of falling ill. Many in countries that were hit hard by initial waves of infections and deaths in the spring say their family relationships have strengthened. That is the case in Spain (42%), Italy, the UK and the U.S. (41% each). In the U.S. and in several other countries, younger adults are especially likely to say they feel a stronger bond with immediate family members since the start of the pandemic.
These are among the findings of a Pew Research Center survey conducted June 10 to Aug. 3, 2020, among 14,276 adults in 14 countries.
Americans most likely to say COVID-19 bolstered religious faith, though majorities around world see little changeMajorities say coronavirus has not changed their religious faith muchIn 11 of 14 countries surveyed, the share who say their religious faith has strengthened is higher than the share who say it has weakened. But generally, people in developed countries don’t see much change in their own religious faith as a result of the pandemic.
A median of 10% across 14 developed countries say their own religious faith has become stronger as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, while a median of 85% say their religious faith had not changed much.
Among the countries surveyed, the U.S. has by far the highest share of respondents who say their faith has strengthened, with about three-in-ten holding this view.
By contrast, in Spain and Italy, two of Western Europe’s more religious countries, roughly one-in-six people say their own religious faith has grown due to the pandemic.
In Canada, 13% say their religious faith has become stronger because of COVID-19. And in other countries surveyed, one-in-ten or fewer report deeper faith due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Title Image Source: Unsplash.com - Gabriella Clare Marino
Excerpt from Pew Research report

#BreakingNews Fire in Historic 13th Century Church Destroys Altar and Damages Interior and Organ in the Netherlands - VIDEO



A large fire in a historic Dutch church has completely destroyed the altar.    The fire has now been extinguished - there is also serious damage to the chancel and organ.   The fire caused severe damage in the Catholic St. Brigitta Church in Noorbeek, the Netherlands (Diocese of Roermond). No people were injured. Structural engineers have examined the damage to the church, the building history of which goes back to Romanesque and Gothic periods in the 13th century. The fire was discovered on Wednesday morning and resulted in a large-scale deployment of the emergency services. The chancel and the two organs are badly damaged. Nothing is known about the cause of the fire, the fire apparently originated in the sacristy. Due to the damage; the church will not be able to have Mass for many months. 

Pontifical Academy for Life Releases New Document “Old Age: Our Future. The Condition of the Elderly after the Pandemic ” - FULL TEXT


 

Document of the Pontifical Academy for Life: “Old age: our future. The condition of the elderly after the pandemic ”, 09.02.2021


OLD AGE: OUR FUTURE

The plight of the elderly after the pandemic

A lesson to learn

Now is the time to “find the courage to open spaces where everyone can feel called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity, solidarity” [1] . Thus Pope Francis expressed himself in the prayer of March 27, 2020 in an empty St Peter's Square, after reminding us that “greedy for gain, we let ourselves be absorbed by things and bewildered by haste.  We have not stopped in front of your calls, we have not awakened in the face of planetary wars and injustices, we have not listened to the cry of the poor and of our seriously ill planet. We continued undeterred… ” [2] .

The Pontifical Academy for Life - in agreement with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development - felt called upon to intervene with a reflection on the lessons to be drawn from the tragedy of the pandemic, on its consequences for today and for the next. future of our societies. In this perspective one can also read the documents already published by the Academy: “Pandemic and Universal Fraternity” [3] and “ Humana Communitas” [4] in the era of the pandemic. Outdated reflections on the rebirth of life " [5] .

The pandemic has brought out a double awareness: on the one hand the interdependence between everyone and on the other the presence of strong inequalities. We are all at the mercy of the same storm, but in a sense, it can also be said that we are rowing on different boats: the most fragile ones sink every day. It is essential to rethink the development model of the entire planet. All are called upon: politics, the economy, society, religious organizations, to start a new social order that places the common good of peoples at the center. There is no longer anything "private" that does not even challenge the "public" form of the entire community. Love for the "common good" is not a Christian fixation: its concrete articulation has now become a matter of life or death, for a coexistence worthy of the dignity of each member of the community. However, for believers, fraternity in solidarity is an evangelical passion: it opens the horizons to a deeper origin and a higher destination.

In this difficult context stands the last Encyclical of Pope Francis, All Brothers,which, providentially, draws the horizon in which to place ourselves in order to outline that “proximity” to the world of the elderly, which up to now has often been “discarded” from public attention. In fact, the elderly have been among the most affected by the pandemic. The death toll among people over 65 is staggering. Pope Francis does not fail to point out: “We have seen what happened to the elderly in some places around the world due to the coronavirus. They didn't have to die like that. But in reality something similar had already happened due to heat waves and other circumstances: cruelly discarded. We do not realize that isolating the elderly and abandoning them in the care of others without adequate and caring accompaniment of the family, mutilates and impoverishes the family itself. Moreover,[6] .

The document that the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life published on 7 April 2020, a few weeks after the start of the lockdownin some European countries, it focuses on the plight of the elderly and identifies loneliness and isolation as one of the main reasons why the virus is hitting this generation so hard. The text states that “those who live inside residential structures deserve special attention: we hear terrible news every day about their conditions and thousands of people have already lost their lives there. The concentration in the same place of so many fragile people and the difficulty of finding protective devices have created situations that are very difficult to manage despite the self-denial and, in some cases, the sacrifice of the personnel dedicated to assistance ” [7] .

Covid-19 and the elderly

During the first wave of the pandemic, a considerable part of the deaths from Covid-19 occurred in institutions for the elderly, places that were supposed to protect the "most fragile part of society" and where instead death has affected disproportionately more than the home and to the family environment. The head of the European Office of the World Health Organization said that in spring 2020 up to half of coronavirus deaths in the region occurred in nursing homes: an "unimaginable tragedy", he commented [8] . The comparative calculations of the data show that the "family", on the other hand, under the same conditions, protected the elderly much more.

The institutionalization of the elderly, especially the most vulnerable and lonely, proposed as the only possible solution to care for them, in many social contexts reveals a lack of attention and sensitivity towards the weakest, towards whom it would rather be necessary to use means and financing suitable for guarantee the best possible care to those who need it most, in a more familiar environment. This approach clearly manifests what Pope Francis has defined the throwaway culture [9]Risks related to age such as loneliness, disorientation, loss of memory and identity and cognitive decline can, in these contexts, manifest themselves more easily, whereas the vocation of these institutions should be the family, social and spiritual accompaniment of the person. elderly in full respect of her dignity, on a journey often marked by suffering.

Already in the years when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis emphasized that "the elimination of the elderly from the life of the family and of society represents the expression of a perverse process in which there is no longer gratuitousness, generosity, that wealth of feelings that make life not just a give and take, that is a market… Eliminating the elderly is a curse that our society often inflicts on itself ” [10] .

It is therefore all the more opportune to start a careful, far-sighted and honest reflection on how contemporary society should be "close" to the elderly population, especially where it is weaker. Moreover, what happened during Covid-19 prevents the issue of care for the elderly from being liquidated with the search for scapegoats, single culprits and, on the other hand, that a chorus rises in defense of the excellent results of those who have avoided contagion in nursing homes. We need a new vision, a new paradigm that allows society to take care of the elderly.

The blessing of a long life

The need for a new and serious reflection, capable of involving society at all levels, is also necessary following the great demographic changes we are all witnessing.

From a statistical-sociological point of view, men and women today generally have a longer life expectancy. Correlated to this phenomenon there is a drastic reduction in infant mortality. In many countries of the world, this has led to the coexistence of four generations. This incredible fact, which would have much to tell us about the importance of learning to value inter-generational relationships, is undoubtedly the fruit of medical-scientific progress, of a more advanced healthcare, of more widespread treatments, of a social life. more supportive. The planet is changing face, but societies - in their articulations - must acquire a greater awareness of it.

This great demographic transformation represents, in fact, a cultural, anthropological and economic challenge. The data tell us that the elderly population is growing faster in urban areas than in rural areas and that the concentration of older people in them is higher. The phenomenon indicates, among others, a factor of significant impact, namely the difference in mortality risks, which tend to be lower in urban areas. Contrary to what a stereotypical view might suggest, globally cities are places where on average people live more. The elderly, therefore, are numerous, but it is essential to make the cities habitable for them too. According to data from the World Health Organization, in 2050 there will be two billion over-60s in the world: therefore, one in five people will be elderly[11] . It is therefore essential to make our cities inclusive and welcoming places for the elderly and, in general, for all forms of fragility.

As Pope Francis pointed out, "today old age corresponds to different seasons of life: for many it is the age in which the productive commitment ceases, the forces decline and the signs of illness, the need for help and isolation appear. social; but for many it is the beginning of a long period of psycho-physical well-being and freedom from work obligations. In both situations, how to live these years? What is the meaning to give to this phase of life, which for many can be long? " [12] . In our society the idea of ​​old age often prevails as an unhappy age, always and only understood as the age of assistance, need and expenses for medical care. Terenzio Afro 2000 years ago spoke of "senectus ipsa est morbus",of old age as a disease in itself. Yet in the Bible, longevity is considered a blessing. "It confronts us with our fragility, with mutual dependence, with our family and community ties, and above all with our divine sonship". “Old age - Pope Francis remarked well - is not a disease, it is a privilege! Loneliness can be a disease, but with charity, closeness and spiritual comfort we can heal it ”.

In any case, being elderly is a gift from God and an enormous resource, an achievement to be carefully safeguarded, even when the disease becomes disabling and the need for integrated and high quality assistance emerges. And it is undeniable that the pandemic has reinforced in all of us the awareness that the "wealth of the years" is a treasure to be valued and protected [13] .

A new model of care and assistance for the most fragile elderly

At the cultural level and of civil and Christian conscience, a profound rethinking of care models for the elderly is very opportune.

Learning to "honor" the elderly is crucial for the future of our societies and, ultimately, for our future. “There is a very beautiful commandment in the Tablets of the Law, beautiful because it corresponds to the truth, capable of generating a profound reflection on the meaning of our life:“ honor your father and your mother ”. Honor in Hebrew means "weight", value; to honor means to recognize the value of a presence: that of those who have generated us to life and faith. […] The realization of a full life and more just society for the new generations depends on the recognition of the presence and wealth that grandparents and the elderly constitute for us, in every context and geographical place of the world. And this recognition has its corollary in respect, which is such if it is expressed in welcoming,[14] and their needs.

Among these, there is undoubtedly the duty to create the best conditions so that the elderly can live this particular phase of life, as much as possible, in their familiar environment, with usual friendships. Who wouldn't want to continue living at home, surrounded by their loved ones and loved ones even when they become more fragile? The family, the home, one's environment represent the most natural choice for anyone.

Of course, not everything can always remain the same as when you were younger; Sometimes solutions are needed that make home care likely. There are situations in which one's home is no longer sufficient or adequate. In these cases it is necessary not to be ensnared by a "throwaway culture", which can manifest itself in laziness and lack of creativity in seeking effective solutions when old age also means lack of autonomy. Putting the person at the center of attention, with his needs and rights is an expression of progress, civilization and an authentic Christian conscience.

The person, therefore, must be the heart of this new paradigm of assistance and care for the most fragile elderly. Each elder is different from the other, the singularity of each story cannot be overlooked: his biography, his living environment , his current and past relationships. To identify new housing and welfare perspectives it is necessary to start from a careful consideration of the person, his history and his needs. The implementation of this principle implies an articulated intervention at different levels, which creates a continuum of care between one's home and some external services, without traumatic interruptions, not suitable for the fragility of aging.

In this perspective, particular attention must be paid to homes so that they are adequate to the needs of the elderly: the presence of architectural barriers or the inadequacy of sanitary facilities, the lack of heating, the scarcity of space must have concrete solutions. When you get sick or weak, anything can turn into an insurmountable obstacle. Home care must be integrated,with the possibility of home medical care and an adequate distribution of services throughout the territory. In other words, it is necessary and urgent to activate a "taking charge" of the elderly wherever their life takes place. All this requires a process of social, civil, cultural and moral conversion. Because this is the only way to adequately respond to the question of proximity of the elderly, especially the weakest and most exposed.

The figures of care-givers must be increased , professions that have already been present in Western societies for years. But there are also other professionals that must be framed within regulatory frameworks, such as to enhance talents and support families. All this can allow the elderly to experience this phase of life in a "familiar" way.

Great support can derive from new technologies and advances in telemedicine and artificial intelligence: if well used and distributed, they can create, around the home of the elderly, an integrated system of assistance and care capable of making it possible to stay in one's own home or that of their family members. A careful and creative alliance between families, the social-health system, volunteers and all the players in the field can avoid an elderly person having to leave their home. Therefore, it would not be just a question of opening structures with few beds, or of providing a garden or an entertainer for free time. Rather, customization is requiredsocial health and welfare intervention. It could be a concrete response to the European Union's invitation to promote new models of care for the elderly [15] . In this context , independent living , assisted living , co-housing and all those experiences that are inspired by the concept-value of mutual assistance must be promoted with creativity and intelligence , while allowing the person to maintain their own independent life.

These experiences, in fact, allow you to live in private accommodation, enjoying the advantages of community life, in an equipped building, with a totally shared daily management system and some guaranteed services, such as the neighborhood nurse. Inspired by the traditional neighborhood, they counteract many of the inconveniences of modern cities: loneliness, economic problems, the lack of emotional ties, the simple need for help. These are the fundamental reasons for their success and their wide diffusion all over the world. There are different definitions and types of residence possible today: intergenerational, which envisage the coexistence of households with different but predefined age groups; those hosting only the elderly, but with particular characteristics, or those for women only; those that unite young families with children and singles; or which involve the integration of external operators for some care services, and many others[16] . In some cases the need has also emerged to offer hospitality to previously institutionalized elderly people who wish to start "a new life" by leaving those contexts that have welcomed them for years.

They are housing and welfare formulas that require a profound change of mentality and approach to the idea of ​​the frail elderly person, but still capable of giving and sharing: an alliance between generations that can be strengthened in the time of weakness.

Redevelop the nursing home in a socio-health "continuum"

In light of these premises, nursing homes should retrain in a socio-health continuum, i.e. offer some of their services directly in the homes of the elderly: hospitalization at home, taking care of the individual with assistance responses modulated on personal needs with low or at high intensity, where integrated social and health assistance and home care remain the pivot of a new and modern paradigm. On the occasion of the 2020 World Day Against Elder Abuse, Pope Francis stressed: "The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted that our societies are not organized enough to make room for the elderly, with due respect for their dignity and their fragility. Where there is no care for the elderly, there is no future for the young " [17]The data that the World Health Organization publishes every year on the same day echo the words of the Pope in relation to the presence of abuses which, in institutionalized contexts, occur more frequently [18] .

All this makes even more evident the need to support families who, especially if made up of a few children and grandchildren, cannot bear the sometimes exhausting responsibility of taking care of a demanding disease, costly in terms of energy and money. A broader network of solidarity must be reinvented, not necessarily and exclusively based on blood ties, but articulated according to belonging, friendships, common feelings, reciprocal generosity in responding to the needs of others. The decline of social relations, in fact, affects the elderly in a particular way: with the advancement of age and the emergence of physical and cognitive frailties, there is often a lack of reference figures, people on whom to rely to address the problems of own life. Some historical, large surveys, conducted for example in the United States, reveal that between 1985 and 2004 the networks of friends and support have drastically reduced: in 1985 people could count on about three trusted people, in 2004 this figure was reduces to one. The loss is about friends, more than relatives. This phenomenon represents adriver of great importance in determining that explosion of health demand, which today does not find adequate social responses and which must not be defined as inappropriate, since the degeneration of one's network of social relationships is in itself a fact capable of deteriorating one's own conditions of physical and mental health.

This is why it is important to reverse the trend , even with careful plans that promote attention and care both in the civil and ecclesial aspects so that those who get older are not left alone.

In several countries, nursing homes have been, in recent decades, the answer to a growing demand from a changing world, although many elderly people continue to live in their homes and ask to be supported and supported in this fundamental choice. . In many cities there were, years ago, "places" and structures well known to the collective imagination, where the elderly were destined to move the last years of their lives, by choice or because they were forced by their personal conditions. Over the years, retirement homes have multiplied, both in number and in type and residential capacity. Even the Catholic Church, through the Dioceses and some religious institutes, has offered and still offers its contribution in the management of many houses that house and care for elderly people. The presence of religious personnel is a factor of undoubted value for ancient and esteemed institutions, which for a long time have been a concrete solution to such a complex social problem, such as aging. There are very beautiful examples, which in fact show how it is possible to humanize assistance to the most fragile elderly people: examples of Christian charity, pious works and longstanding institutions, which do not spare energy and effort, even if in the midst of difficult and almost unmanageable economic situations.

Families, for their part, often resort to the solution of hospitalization in public and private structures out of necessity, in the hope of offering their loved ones quality assistance. And it is undeniable that if once large families managed to organize themselves in the care of older family members within their own home, today the modified structure of family units - "narrower", with a reduced average number of members, and "more long ", with three or more generations within them - and the complex work demands that keep adults away from home, make caring for the elderly a whole new challenge. In some poor social contexts, then, the institutional solution can constitute a concrete response to the lack of a home of one's own.

In most of these structures, dignity and respect for the elderly have always been the cornerstones of the welfare work, bringing out even more, by contrast, the episodes of mistreatment and violation of human rights, when they were brought to the light. In this sense, both public and private social, health and welfare systems have invested huge economic resources for the care of the third and fourth age, integrating retirement homes within themselves.

Over the years, however, regulations have imposed a reduction in the size of large residential structures, replacing them with smaller modules that are more functional to the needs of guests. It is true that the environment of the nursing homes appears structured more like a hospital than a home, without however the most specific element: that is, the fact that one enters the hospital with the hope of leaving it, once that has been cured. A factor that is now bringing out a widespread unease in the collective consciousness, both at a medical and cultural level. This is why it is important to preserve a human fabric and a caring and welcoming environment where everyone can care for, serve and meet. As Pope Francis reminds us: "The elderly are not an alien, we are the elderly: soon, soon, inevitably anyway, even if we don't think about it. And if we don't learn to treat the elderly well, so will we too "[19] .

The elderly and the strength of frailty

In this context, Dioceses, parishes and ecclesial communities are also invited to reflect more attentively towards the world of the elderly. In recent decades the popes have intervened several times to solicit a sense of responsibility and pastoral care for the elderly.

Their presence is a great asset. Just think of the decisive role they played in the preservation and transmission of the faith to young people in countries under atheist and authoritarian regimes. And what so many grandparents continue to do to transmit the faith to their grandchildren. “In the secularized societies of many countries - Pope Francis remarked - the current generations of parents do not have, for the most part, that Christian formation and that living faith, which grandparents can pass on to their grandchildren. They are the indispensable link for educating children and young people to the faith. We must get used to including them in our pastoral horizons and to consider them, in a non-episodic way, as one of the vital components of our communities. They are not just people we are called to assist and protect in order to guard their life,[20]

Certainly, the elderly, for their part, must try to live old age wisely: "These years of our last stretch of journey contain a gift and a mission: a true vocation from the Lord" [21] . For this reason, "the pastoral care of the elderly, like every pastoral, must be included in the new missionary season inaugurated by Pope Francis with Evangelii GaudiumThis means: announcing the presence of Christ [also] to the elderly. Evangelization must aim at the spiritual growth of every age, since the call to holiness is for everyone, even for grandparents. Not all elderly people have already encountered Christ and even if the encounter did take place, it is essential to help them rediscover the meaning of their own Baptism, in a special phase of life, [...]: to rediscover the amazement before the mystery of love of God and eternity; […] To discover the relationship with the God of merciful love; to ask the elderly who are part of our communities to be actors in the new evangelization to transmit the Gospel themselves. They are called to be missionaries ” [22] , like every other age of life.

In this sense, “the Church [can make itself] a place where generations are called to share God's plan of love, in a relationship of mutual exchange of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This intergenerational sharing forces us to change our gaze towards the elderly, to learn to look to the future with them. […] The Lord can and will also write new pages with them, pages of holiness, of service, of prayer ”. [23]

Young and old, in fact, by meeting, can bring into the social fabric that new lymph of humanism that would make society more united. Several times Pope Francis has urged young people to be close to their grandparents. On July 26, 2020, in the heart of the pandemic, addressing young people, he said: "I would like to invite young people to make a gesture of tenderness towards the elderly, especially the most lonely, in homes and residences, those who have not seen their Dear. Dear young people, each of these elders is your grandfather! Don't leave them alone! Use the fantasy of love, make phone calls, video calls, send messages, listen to them […]. Send them a hug ”. And in 2012 Benedict XVI had the opportunity to say: "There can be no true human growth and education without fruitful contact with the elderly,

Old age also recalls the sense of the ultimate destination of human existence. John Paul II in 1999 wrote to the elderly: “It is urgent to recover the right perspective from which to consider life as a whole. And the right perspective is eternity, for which life is a significant preparation in every phase. Old age also has a role to play in this process of progressive maturation of the human being on his way to the eternal. If life is a pilgrimage towards the mystery of God, old age is the time in which most naturally one looks at the threshold of this mystery " [24]The aging man is not approaching the end, but the mystery of eternity; to understand him he needs to get closer to God and to live in relationship with him. Taking care of the spirituality of the elderly, of their need for intimacy with Christ and sharing of faith is a task of charity in the Church.

The witness that the elderly can give with their fragility is also precious. It can be read as a "teaching", a teaching of life. This is expressed by the encounter of the risen Jesus with Peter on the shores of Lake Tiberias. Addressing the apostle, he says: “when you were young, you girded yourself with yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you and lead you where you do not want to "(Jn 21, 18). The whole teaching on the person who weakens in old age seems to be summed up in these words: "stretch out your hands" to get help. The elderly remind us of the radical weakness of every human being, even when they are healthy, they remind us of the need to be loved and supported. In old age, having defeated all self-sufficiency, one becomes a beggar for help. "When I'm weak, it is then that I am strong ”(2 Cor 12:10), writes the apostle Paul. In weakness it is God himself who, first, extends his hand to man.

Old age must also be understood in this spiritual horizon: it is the propitious age of abandonment to God. As the body weakens, psychic vitality, memory and mind decrease, the dependence of the human person on God becomes increasingly evident. Of course, there are those who can feel old age as a condemnation, but also those who can feel it as an opportunity to reset the relationship with God. Once the human props have fallen, the fundamental virtue becomes faith, lived not only as adherence to revealed truths. , but as a certainty of the love of God that does not abandon.

The weakness of the elderly is also provocative: it invites the youngest to accept dependence on others as a way of dealing with life. Only a youth culture makes the term "elderly" feel derogatory. A society that knows how to welcome the weakness of the elderly is capable of offering everyone hope for the future. Taking away the right to life of those who are frail means stealing hope, especially from young people. This is why discarding the elderly - even with language - is a serious problem for everyone. It implies a clear message of exclusion, which is the basis of so much lack of acceptance: from the conceived person to the disabled person, from the emigrant to the one who lives on the street. Life is not accepted if it is too weak and in need of care, unloved in its modification, not accepted in its embrittlement.[25] and proposes a message that puts the whole of society at risk. It is a dangerous attitude, which clearly shows that the opposite of weakness is not strength, but hubris, as the Greeks called it: the presumption that knows no bounds. Very common in our societies, it produces giants with clay feet. Presumption, pride, hubris, contempt for the weak characterize those who believe they are strong. An attitude stigmatized in the Scriptures: God's weakness is stronger than men (1Cor 1:25). And, what is weak for the world, God has chosen to confuse the strong (1 Cor 1:27). Christianity not only does not reject or hide the weakness of man, from conception to the moment of death, but gives him honor, meaning and even strength. Of course, it cannot be said superficially that as we age we automatically become better:

But Christians - they, in particular - must question themselves with the intelligence of love in order to identify new perspectives and ways with which to respond to the challenge not only of aging, but rather of weakness in old age. Since it is undeniable that the disease and the loss of autonomy that may arise create problems and a legitimate request for help.

One Gospel account, in particular, highlights the value and surprising potential of old age. This is the episode of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, an event which in the Eastern Christian tradition is called the "Feast of the Encounter". On that occasion, in fact, two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, meet the Child Jesus: frail elderly people reveal him to the world as the light of the people and speak of him to those who were waiting for the fulfillment of the divine promises ( cf Lk2,32.38). Simeon takes Jesus in his arms: the Child and the elderly, as if to symbolize the beginning and the end of earthly existence, mutually support each other: in fact, as some liturgical hymns proclaim, "the old man carried the Child, but the Child supported the elderly person ». Hope thus springs from the encounter between two fragile people, a Child and an elderly person, to remind us, in our times which exalt the culture of performance and strength, that the Lord loves to reveal greatness in smallness and strength in tenderness. The episode, as repeatedly emphasized by the Holy Father, also marks the meeting between the young people, represented by Mary and Joseph who take the Child to the Temple, and the elderly Simeon and Anna, who welcome and instruct them. In the meeting, however, the roles are reversed: 22-24.27), while the elderly reveal the newness of the Spirit (cf. vv. 25-27), prophesying the future.

This happens in the fruitful bed of the open and welcoming encounter between young and old, which allows the fulfillment of an ancient promise: "This episode fulfills the prophecy of Joel:" Your elders will dream, your young people will have visions "( Gl 3.1). In that meeting, young people see their mission and the elderly realize their dreams " [26]The future - this prophecy seems to tell us - opens up surprising possibilities only if we cultivate it together. It is only thanks to the elderly that young people can rediscover their roots and it is only thanks to young people that the elderly recover the ability to dream. Pope Francis has repeatedly reiterated the need, both for the Church and for society, proposing to boldly encourage grandparents to dream: not only to rekindle hope in them, but also to give the young generations the lifeblood, which it springs from the dreams of the elderly, irreplaceable memory vehicles to wisely guide the future. This is why depriving the elderly of their "prophetic role", setting them aside for purely productive reasons, causes an incalculable impoverishment, an unforgivable loss of wisdom and humanity. Discarding the elderly,

The paradigm we intend to propose is not an abstract utopia or a naive claim, it can instead nurture and nourish new and wiser public health policies and original proposals for a health care system more appropriate for old age. More effective, as well as more humane. This is required by an ethic of the common good and the principle of respect for the dignity of every single individual, without any distinction, not even that of age. The entire civil society, the Church and the various religious traditions, the world of culture, school, voluntary service, entertainment, economy and social communications must feel the responsibility to suggest and support - within this revolution Copernican - new and incisive measures to make it possible for the elderly to be accompanied and assisted in family contexts, in their home and in any case in home environments that look more like a home than a hospital. This is a cultural turning point to be implemented. The Pontifical Academy for Life will be careful to point out this path as the most authentic way to witness the profound truth of the human being: the image and likeness of God, beggar and teacher of love.

+ Vincenzo Paglia

President

Mons.Renzo Pegoraro

Chancellor

Vatican City, February 2, 2021

______________________

[1] Francis, Extraordinary moment of prayer in times of pandemic, March 27, 2020.

[2] Francis, Ibid.

[3] Note dated March 30, 2020.

[4] Note of July 22, 2020. Humana Communitas is the title of the Letter that Pope Francis sent to the Pontifical Academy for Life on January 6, 2019, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its establishment.

[5] On this point, see also the document of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life of 7 April 2020, Coronavirus kills more in solitude , in http://www.laityfamilylife.va/content/laityfamilylife/ en / news / 2020 / in-solitude-the-coronavirus-kills-more.html

[6] Francis, Encyclical Letter All Brothers. On fraternity and social friendship , 2020, 19.

[7] Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Coronavirus kills more in solitude, April 7, 2020, in hhtp: //www.laityfamilylife.va/content/laityfamilylife/it/news/2020/nella-solitudine -the-coronavirus-kills-more.html

[8] April 23, 2020 Associated Press

[9] Francis, General Audience, 5 June 2013.

[10] JM Bergoglio, Only love can save us , LEV, Vatican City 2013, p. 83.

[11] World Health Organization (2011), Global Health and Aging , at http://www.who.int/ageing/publications/global_health.pdf.

[12] Francis, Address to the participants in the I International Congress for the Pastoral Care of the Elderly on the theme "The richness of the years", 31 January 2020

[13] COMECE-FAFCE, The elderly and the future of Europe. Intergenerational solidarity and cares in times of demographic change , December 3, 2020.

[14] Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Conclusions at the I International Congress for the Pastoral Care of the Elderly "The wealth of the years" , January 30, 2020, in the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life "The wealth of the years ", LEV, 2020, http://www.laityfamilylife.va/content/laityfamilylife/it/eventi/2020/la-ricosità-degli-anni/conclusioni.html

[15] 2012 was a year dedicated by international institutions to old age: the European Union had proclaimed it "European year of active aging and solidarity between generations", while the World Health Organization had dedicated the World Health Day Health 2012 to the theme “Aging and health: good health adds life to the years”.

[16] For an overview, cf. C. Durret, Senior Cohousing, A Community approach to Independent Living - The Handbook, 2019, Gabriola Island BC, Canada.

[17] Francesco, Tweet of June 15, 2020.

[18] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/elder-abuse.

[19] Francis, General Audience, 4 March 2015 .

[20] Francis, Address to the participants in the first international congress for the pastoral care of the elderly "The richness of the years", 31 January 2020.

[21] Francis, General Audience , 11 March 2015.

[22] Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Conclusions at the I International Congress for the Pastoral Care of the Elderly "The richness of the years" , 30 January 2020, at http://www.laityfamilylife.va/content/laityfamilylife/it /events/2020/la-ricicità-degli-anni/conclusioni.html

[23] Francis, Address to the participants in the first international congress for the pastoral care of the elderly "The richness of the years" , 31 January 2020.

[24] John Paul II, Letter to the Elders, 1999.

[25] Cfr. Francis, Meeting with the elderly , St. Peter's Square, 28 September 2014.

[26] Francis, Homily , February 2, 2018.

 [Unofficial Translation from Original text: Italian]

Source: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2021/02/09/0085/00173.html