Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

A Prayer As I Age

In a few weeks, I will be blessed to reach the age of 6 — 6 dozen, that is. Seventy-two years since I first saw the light of day. Seventy-two years on a journey through a world that is at best a stopping place on our eternal journey, and at worst an enormous source of temptation to see this as being all there is, or at least all that is really important.

I’ve said before that the fear of death is rooted in our attachment to the things, events, and yes, even the people, that populate our lives. It’s part of our human nature to form those attachments — and they can help us be our best selves while we are here. But it’s also part of our human nature to let these attachments to what we can experience with our bodily senses, and our even deeper attachment to the feelings they evoke in us, become our primary goal and our main source of comfort. When that happens, we tend to cling to what we know, and that make us resistant to the changes that come with aging — and the ultimate change that comes with our transition to eternal life.

We all say, with a certain wisdom and dark humor, that aging is better than what’s in second place, and we even acknowledge that what’s in second place is inevitable. But how often do we think deeply enough about these changes to embrace them? And that’s really what we need to do, in order to free ourselves of the too-deep attachment to the temporary things of this world.

We are called, indeed, to live well during our time on earth — as disciples of Jesus, not as slaves to our youthfulness and our possessions and accomplishments — and we are called, finally, to praise Him forever in Heaven. This season of Advent is such a wonderful time for gentle reminders of where our true attachments lie.

And as I pondered these ideas one day, I found myself praying like this:

Lord God, You are to be praised as the loving Creator Who has given all living things their life, the time and span for which You hold in Your infinite wisdom. Please grant me grace to live out my life in full accord with Your will and in constant gratitude for the many rich blessings You constantly provide.

And another great gift I ask of You: please grant that I may age gracefully. By that I do not mean in physical appearance or beauty or even physical abilities. My plea, Father, is that I may have the grace as I age to continue in faith and to hear the voices of those who love me, so that I understand when they tell me that the time has come for me to stop driving or that I should no longer tackle stairs or other challenges, and so that I hear their concerns as coming from the heart. Let me hear and heed their advice and suggestions as offered in love with my best interests at heart. Lead me to the greatest independence I can enjoy, but save me from the need to cling stubbornly to my own ideas when they are no longer good for me.

I pray that you may surround me with people who love me and willingly help me and that as much as possible I may not be a burden to them. And Lord, please save me from becoming a disagreeable, cantankerous person whose moods and bad temper turn people away or cause hurt and sadness in them.

If it should be in Your plan and will for me that I suffer from mental or physical infirmities, or both, I beg of You the grace to suffer them with a gentleness of spirit that will draw my caregivers into the circle of Your love and join my sufferings with those of Your Son in His redemptive act. For my caregivers I ask the grace to see the value in their work and that they may receive Your richest grace and blessings as a reward for what they do. Let us all join our deeds with the redemptive sufferings of Jesus for the good of souls.

Father God, I fear the time when I may lose control of my bodily and mental abilities. Please grant me freedom from fear and let me trust in Your infinite goodness and mercy, so that I may always live in faith.

These things I ask in the name of Your Son, Jesus, Who told us that whatever we ask in His name will be granted. Amen.


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