16th April

Old And Young

You elders … should not try and dominate those who have been put in your care, but you should be examples for them to follow…. In the same way you younger people should give yourselves to the older ones. And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another. 2 Peter 5: 3, 5

Old people often envy the vigour and good health of the young, their greater capacity to enjoy physical pleasures, and the length of years they have ahead of them. The truth is young people should envy the old.

Although old people have less physical and mental energy, they have greater spiritual reserves. Although they can enjoy fewer physical pleasures, they have greater capacity for spiritual enjoyment. Thus the old are better prepared for death, and for life beyond death. So the fewer years that are ahead of them should be a reason to celebrate, not to indulge self-pity.

Although a young person like yourself may assume that you have many years ahead of you, you cannot be sure. The soul is attached to the body by a fragile thread which can snap at any moment. So although you are younger than I am, you may die before me. Do not, therefore, merely envy old age: imitate its virtues. Direct your physical energies into spiritual matters, let these become your major source of pleasure. In this way you will be ready for death whenever it comes.
Pelagius. To a young friend.

O God, to whom to love and to be are one
Hear my faith-cry for those who are more yours than mine.
Give each of them what is best for each.
I cannot tell what it is.
But you know.
I only ask that you love them and keep them
With the loving and keeping
You showed to Mary’s son and yours.
Collected by Alistair MacLean in Hebridean Altars