English Catholic motivational speaker and author David Wells has challenged people in “the autumn of their lives” to be the face of joy to the young people of the Church.

Mr Wells gave a talk on “60+: their value and role in the Church” on August 24 at St Thomas More Church in Mt Maunganui.

“We need to be a Church of joy for a new generation. The Lord is going to
give you that job. We’re going to be a face of welcome to a new generation. But we’re not going to get there until we cheer up and tell our faces,” he said.

Mr Wells said in Amoris Laetitia Pope Francis gave parents and grandparents simple yet profound advice.

“He says give your children a memory of you smiling. In their maturity, they will wonder where your joy came from. And you’ll have the beginnings of evangelisation. Give your children and your grandchildren a memory of you smiling,” Mr Wells said.

Mr Wells said it is a sad fact of life that at a very early age, people start comparing themselves with others. That comparison, he said, goes on through the next 70 to 80 years of one’s life.

“It’s all very subtle and we find ourselves caught up in subtle comparisons
with our brother or our sister and their children. It isn’t long before it’s our
illnesses that we’re boasting about,” he said — which drew laughter from the crowd.

“Life is kind of painful in a way. And it’s married with this insatiable desire of the human heart to measure how it’s doing against its neighbour,” he
noted.

Mr Wells said even the disciples in Mark’s Gospel compared themselves to one another in the hopes of sitting nearest to Jesus in the kingdom. “These are our biblical heroes and they are comparing themselves and they are becoming anxious and then they are becoming insecure,” he said.

They became so insecure that they were even turning the blind away from
Jesus, he pointed out. “[They are] not bad people. But it is our insecurity and our insatiable desire to compare our performance that is often at odds with our beliefs,” he said.

Pope Francis, Mr Wells said, is calling on us to drop our worries, insecurities and anxieties.

“Pope Francis says put that down.You’re a child of God. You’re a child of Easter. Your life has a happy ending. Pray for your children,” he said.

Mr Wells said older people also have the power of “exousia”, the power of
vulnerability.

“If you read John’s Gospel, the moment Jesus is arrested, from then on, the Greek origin of Jesus’ authority is always the word, exousia, the power of vulnerability. He gives himself,” Mr Wells said. “Now, coming into a deep spiritual truth … your very weakness, your very vulnerability, the strength that you once had that you no longer hold, is not to be grieved because you have a new power, the power of exousia, the power of surrender,” he said.

Mr Wells said it is not about giving up but giving in to God. He stressed this is what the Church needs from its older members.

“You are going to let God be God. And you are going to smile the face of joy and you are going to become exousia,” he said.

1 COMMENT

  1. Regarding grief, in addition to the loss of physical and worldly prowess, it seems to me that another significant dimension of grief for the over 60s (or anyone) is spiritual loneliness, in particular the absence of their children and grandchildren from the Faith.
    I think that redemptive suffering in the illness of later life needs to be linked to the idea of joy and maybe also the reality of the four last things. St Therese Liseux is always good to reflect on.

    Does “exousia” mean “vulnerability/surrender”? I thought is was defined as “lordship”, “competency”?

    “Now, coming into a deep spiritual truth … your very weakness, your very vulnerability, the strength that you once had that you no longer hold, is not to be grieved because you have a new power, the power of exousia, the power of surrender,”

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