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Pope Francis spoke in his general audience on Wednesday about the effects of old age, the frailty of the elderly and the virtue of helplessness.
The pope, 85, has revisited the subject of old age and deterioration several times in recent years. His lessons and commentary on the nature of aging – often optimistic in nature – have taken on new potency as the pontiff battles a range of health issues while continuing his physically demanding job.
In his sermon, the pope told his listeners that old age is a time when Christians must learn to accept help from others, even in the basic tasks of daily life. He compared the helplessness of old age to the serenity of surrendering control of one’s life to God.
“Your sequel [of Jesus Christ] will have to learn to let yourself be instructed and shaped by your fragility, your helplessness, your dependence on others, even to dress yourself, to walk,” Pope Francis said.
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“Do we have a spirituality truly capable of interpreting the season – now long and widespread – of this time of our weakness entrusted to others, rather than to the power of our autonomy?” the pope asked the audience.
Pope Francis went on to say that if lived well, the fragile final years of people’s time on Earth can be “the best part of their lives.”
“The honor of their fidelity to their sworn love, their fidelity to follow the faith which they have believed, even under the conditions which bring them closer to the moment of taking leave of life, is their title of admiration for the generations to come. to come and grateful acknowledgment from the Lord,” he added.
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Last July, the pope had colon surgery and was hospitalized for almost two weeks. Since the operation, the pontiff has regularly complained of knee pain and other side effects that make mobility and physical exertion difficult.
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The pontiff began being escorted in a wheelchair until his appearances last month – the first time he has needed such support since his operation in 2021. Pope Francis has previously chosen to sit when this is possible instead of standing for long periods of time.
The pontiff continues to suffer from various health issues, including his injured knee. The Pope informed the public that he would not be celebrate the Eucharist for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi this year – the third consecutive celebration he will be forced to miss.
francis was also forced to also postpone his apostolic visit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, citing the advice of his doctor. The visit was scheduled for early July and was to be a short tour of the DRC and South Sudan. A new date will be decided later.