by Carmel Carter
What is the role of the older person in the Church today? I mean the really old person —
80 or so years?
I am sitting out in the sun in the small back yard of my unit enjoying a cup of coffee, and I’m thinking “I feel so useless”.
I have started reading “A Church in Change”, that new book that parishioners are encouraged to buy and read. It cost me $30, so I will not be going to the RSA Women’s Section Xmas Dinner, as my pension won’t run to both, but that is OK, because I wasn’t very keen to go anyway. The print is very small and light, but I can manage if I read it in the daylight
one chapter at a time. As my finances diminish I am able to give less and less to church and charities.
I feel I should be more active in the Church now that my husband has passed away, but I don’t know what I can do. I used to teach catechetics, but I’m too old now and haven’t the patience with little ones. I used to sing in the choir, but now I run out of puff after two verses and my throat seizes up. Perhaps I should volunteer to help clean the church, but I get very breathless; and I love gardening, but my back gives out just keeping my own little patch in order. I once was a eucharistic minister, but my balance has gone.
I can still drive. I visit a 100-year-old neighbour who is housebound and a blind lady of 98 in an apartment down the road about once a month, but I have to make myself do it. I feel I should do a lot more visiting; there are so many lonely people. The 90-year-old guy next
door comes over once or twice a week in the evening for a couple of hours and occasionally I feel brave enough to give him a meal, but my cooking is not up to much really and I have burnt a few pots.
What is my role in the Church? I go to Mass and Fr Raphael always says my name when I go up to Communion. That makes me feel wanted. It will soon be that Reconciliation time, coming up to Advent. I hate going. What will I say? Perhaps I’ll leave it this time to “Once a year about Easter time”.
I think I should pray more. It has been a long time since I have been able to get through a decade of the rosary without my mind wandering all over the face of the earth in time and place. Maybe God just wants me to talk to him naturally, but I can’t think of much
to say. My pussy cat is lying in front of me on her back waiting for a little tummy rub. Cats just lie around enjoying life. They don`t do much. Perhaps that is what the Lord wants of me, to do nothing. Just to be. To sit in the sunshine of his love and enjoy just being a person
alive. Life is our most precious gift. I sure don’t want to end it.
Carmel Carter lives in Browns Bay in Auckland