Today I had the opportunity to visit three priests who are now very old, but were each a vital part of a worldwide movement. Pasquale, Oreste and Fons were three of the most important priests in the history of the Focolare Movement. They helped not only get it organized but also worked throughout their lives to spread the word about trying to live in unity with one another and with Jesus. They are now over 80 years old, yet each still has a spark that time has not extinguished.
It made me think about how many of those who have born the heat of the day are so often just cast aside and forgotten. As is often the case with every new generation that comes on the scene, there is not always an appreciation for the work and energy that former generations expended in order for us to be able to have the life we lead today. For example, I rarely think about the sacrifices my family made in order for me to be who I am and where I am and how I am today. But the truth is, my grandparents sacrificed a lot to come to a new country and begin new lives, trying to make things better for their descendants. And they did it!! I wonder how many of us will be able to say the same.
As we visited these three priests here in Italy on our last day of the trip, we were reminded of the many good men who have gone before us. I think that the same should be experienced by everyone, and not just on the occasion of a trip such as I am making. Perhaps we can take out an old family of photos, or look at a genealogical chart of our family tree and contemplate the life that our ancestors led. Even better, call or visit elderly relatives, friends or former co-workers to give them an opportunity to explain how and what they did that made your world the way it is.
And if you are really interested in honoring those who have seen many years, make a visit to a home for the elderly and chat with some of the residents. Ask them about their lives and express appreciation for what they did to make the world a better place. In honoring our elders, after all, we really honor God, who gave us the inheritance that they prepared.