Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where You Do Not Want to Go

May 29, 2009

By Melanie Rigney

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

(Festus said of Paul to King Agrippa): “His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected. Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar."(Acts 25:18-21)

Bless the Lord, all you angels, mighty in strength and attentive, obedient to every command. (Psalms 103:20)

(Jesus said to Peter:) “Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 21:18-19)


Lord, you are so right. Dependence on others for my physical needs, a failing memory, and death all are places I do not want to go. Extend Your hand so I can hold on tightly as I follow You.


Sixty is the new forty, Hillary Clinton told us during the 2008 presidential campaign (not coincidentally, a few months after she turned sixty).

Google “seventy is the new fifty” and you’ll get 23.2 million responses. You’ll even get some matches for “eighty is the new forty” or “eighty is the new fifty.”

Are we deluding ourselves? How many years can medical advances, exercise, healthy eating, and a positive attitude add to our lives? It seems no matter what the age, few of us are prepared to go gently into that final goodnight.

While most of us don’t face the physical crucifixion today’s Gospel reading presages for Peter, if we live to a ripe old age, we will deal with lifestyle crucifixions: Not driving after dark. Not driving at all. Moving in with our children or into assisted living facilities or retirement homes. Having others do our laundry and cook our meals. Forgetting facts and figures and names and faces and words.

How are we as Christians to approach the process of aging? Perhaps in the same way we respond to the choices we face in other life changes, large and small, happy and sad—but all inevitable.

Sacred Silent: Denial and the Crisis in the Church by Donald B. Cozzens and Richard Hart (Liturgical Press; 2003), offers this:

The elderly certainly are challenged to matriculate in the school of hard knocks. This school teaches them how to be more like Christ, which is an endless process, one that will not be fully completed here on earth. From the womb to the tomb there is a constant clarion call for them to let go, which increases steadily with age. Elders can mellow, become more loving and compassionate, or grow more cynical, crabby, irritable, and pessimistic. They become their choices. They relive the paschal mystery of Jesus in a concrete way and are intimately united to his sufferings. ... In this daring adventure they become more and more like Christ and are able to say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:19-20.”

Change is never easy, but it is inevitable. May the example of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection be a comfort to us all as we prepare for the day we end our time here on earth.


After dinner tonight, discuss the changes that come with each stage of life and how we are called by Christ to respond. If possible, make this a multigenerational discussion.

Finally, a special prayer request: The Your Daily Tripod team will hold our first official editorial meeting and celebration of 1,200 consecutive days of reflections. We will gather Friday night in Washington. This project began in March 2006 to reflect on the Cursillo principles of piety, study, and action. We humbly ask for your prayers for continued inspiration in carrying forth the Word through this blog. Let us pray for the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit for all of our words and works.

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