.- The Pope used the words of Moses to express his theme for Lent 2005, which was published today in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish and dated September 8th, 2004. The theme, taken from Deuteronomy 30:20 is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you, and length of days."
The Pope says these words of Moses invite the people "to embrace the Covenant with Yahweh in the country of Moab 'that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him'."
Following are excerpts from the Message:
"It is upon this theme that I would like to ask you to reflect during this Lent, in order to deepen the awareness of the role that the elderly are called to play in society and in the Church, and thus to prepare your hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved for them.”
Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly.”
This demands a more specific attention to the world of so-called 'old' age, in order to help its members to live their full potential by placing them at the service of the entire community. The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful, especially in the ecclesial communities of Western societies, where the problem is particularly present.”
"Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages. The Commandment, 'You shall not kill', always requires respecting and promoting human life, from its beginning to its natural end.”
It is a command that applies even in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person's ability to be self-reliant."
The elderly need to be understood and helped in this perspective. I wish, here, to express my appreciation to those who dedicate themselves to fulfilling these needs, and I also call upon other people of good will to take advantage of Lent for making their own personal contribution."
It is necessary to raise the awareness in public opinion that the elderly represent, in any case, a resource to be valued.”
For this reason, economic support and legislative initiatives, which allow them not to be excluded from social life, must be strengthened.”
In truth, during the last decade, society has become more attentive to their needs, and medicine has developed palliative cures that, along with an integral approach to the sick person, are particularly beneficial for long-term patients."
Knowledge of the nearness of the final goal leads the elderly person to focus on that which is essential, giving importance to those things that the passing of years do not destroy.”
Precisely because of this condition, the elderly person can carry out his or her role in society. If it is true that man lives upon the heritage of those who preceded him, and that his future depends definitively on how the cultural values of his own people are transmitted to him, then the wisdom and experience of the elderly can illuminate his path on the way of progress toward an ever more complete form of civilization."
What would happen if the People of God yielded to a certain current mentality that considers these people, our brothers and sisters, as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness?”
Instead, how different the community would be, if, beginning with the family, it tries always to remain open and welcoming towards them."
> Read the full message of His Holiness John Paul II for Lent 2005 at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=50