April 23, 2020

A Chaplain’s Thoughts: Aging with grace

Rev. James F. Quigley, O.P. ’60, Associate Chaplain, National Alumni Association 

I recently met some former students of mine who greeted me saying: “For your age you look good. What’s your secret?” I told them: “Prayer and vodka.” I quickly added: “Just kidding.” 

Rev. James F. Quigley, O.P. '60
Rev. James F. Quigley, O.P. ’60

Pope Francis has spoken about the elderly. He has said: “While we are young we are tempted to ignore old age as if it were an illness to hold at bay.” Providence, divine providence, sees it differently. God sees it as a time in life with a particular call or vocation. 

The aged, of course, may find themselves in different circumstances physically, psychologically, financially, socially. Some enjoy relaxed retirement; others deal with illness, loneliness, and limitations. However, at this time in our lives one thing we can all do is reflect, contemplate, and pray. Having reached a level of accumulated experience and wisdom, there now is time to enter into a deeper relationship with God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ pulls us into the mystery who is God.  

As a senior, we can claim God’s attention, and we can direct that attention to a host of others, e.g., children, grandchildren, siblings, friends, and the sick. We have time to pray for those who have no one else to pray for them, e.g., victims of insane violence, immigrants hoping for a chance at a better future, for other alumni of Providence College. The elderly, the old, seniors have a unique mission in the spiritual life.  

We “old” alumni also have time to study. Now there is the opportunity to grow theologically, to deepen our understanding of the faith we believe, or perhaps discover a faith to believe. Alumni chaplains at the College would be happy to suggest concrete ways of pursuing such ongoing education by recommending online offerings. Study, of course, is the legacy Dominicans pass on to all in our College community.  

Again, Pope Francis: “Let us pray to the Lord that He might be near our grandparents and all the elderly, that He might give strength to those who have given us wisdom, life, our story. May we also be near them with our prayer.”