Sister Candida Bellotti: a Message of Trusting Hope

12717651_799813350153677_5117005129220937358_n‘They still bring forth fruit in old age’

If we open the Bible at verse 15 of Psalm 92 we read ‘They still bring forth fruit in old age, they are ever full of sap and green, to show that the Lord is upright’ (Psalm 92:15): different fruit, but always valuable fruit, during the pathways of their lives.

This is a message of trusting hope that accompanies the pathways of our lives, even when ‘in the time of old age…my strength is spent’ (Psalm 71:9). This is a positive vision of health and growing old.

The health of elderly people, as ‘well-being’ and as ‘being well’, can only be such within their life histories, and within the communities in which they live, as an experience of a present that maintains its strong sense of meaningfulness because it is a synthesis of the past and openness to the future.

Old age should be, as Pope Francis observed to the Cardinals on 15 March 2013, the seat of life’s wisdom. ‘Dear brother Cardinals, take courage! Half of us are advanced in age. Old age is – as I like to say – the seat of life’s wisdom. The old have acquired the wisdom that comes from having journeyed through life, like the old man Simeon, the old prophetess Anna in the Temple. And that wisdom enabled them to recognise Jesus. Let us pass on this wisdom to the young: like good wine that improves with age, let us give life’s wisdom to the young’.

This is wisdom that is requested of God: ‘teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom’ (the previous translation was ‘Teach us to count up the days that are ours, and we shall come to the heart of wisdom’). But this is wisdom that, like a good wine, also needs to be cared for ‘with love’ by us during the whole of the pathway of our lives.

This is the message of trusting hope that is given to us by Sr. Candida through her words and through the witness of her life: old age is an age to be lived and one can grow old well.

Luciano Sandrin

SUGGESTED READING:Luciano Sandrin, Un’età da vivere. Invecchiare meglio si può