Catholic prayer for elderly parents

Take care of them when they are sick?… Why?


For young parents, care for their babies, to assist them in their absolute dependence to survive, to learn to walk, and increasingly to fend for themselves, is lived as a magical way, awaited and very satisfactory, whose reward is to see developed the son and become a person. Take care of them when they are sick, is a concern that can be carried to the extreme, to its evils are well attended, taking their pills and followed the instructions of your doctor. Nobody is questioning this responsibility and satisfaction.

It is very easy to give love to a baby or a beautiful little girl, or a hug to a child. The parental satisfaction is easy to achieve and leads to pride to be protective and care of children who grow. These satisfactions are converted in pride that can reach the pride, the presumption himself of duty fulfilled.

But there is other end of life, the decline over the years, which converts to people in the age of maturity vigorous in elderly, ever more in need of help of all kinds: material, physical and psychological – not to specify spiritual. Those who do not die in the path of life, grow old, with a growing dependence on younger people, who in every human culture, is seen as a fundamental responsibility of the children and, secondly, other relatives, as Friars Minor.

The responsibility for the old is so important as to infants; they grow and those decrease, children are each day less dependent and old increasingly, children gain strength, the old lose it. Here the problems begin for those who, as adults in fullness of life, face needs of their aging parents: it’s a mess having old persons!

As the historical memory of the peoples makes one forget and repeat the past mistakes, action and of omission, people tend to forget what received from their parents, from the care and feeding newborns, until personal sacrifices of time and money for their education. And it is not the lack of historical memory family, is a selfish mechanism to forget the paternal and maternal dedication received.

Very easily, parents young and mature age, selfishly can despise increasingly what received from their fathers, giving as an obligation to fulfill without greater merit, but at the same time come to overestimate their own actions for their children. The selfishness and the on-self-esteem are imposed, dismissing their parents.

Respond to the aging parents or already elderly, is seen by selfish adults as cargo very uncomfortable, that demand something they want for their exclusive advantage: time. Once an adult begins to feel the need to dedicate paternal time to the alternative is present: if I leave my things to see my parents, it weighs on me, and if you do not give them time, I feel bad.

Human Aging is synonymous, unfortunately, loss of authority and at the same time can be of stubbornness, foolishness, bad character and closure to ideas and customs that through his life came to be seen as own: I have reason and the new generations are wrong. The old take their pills, hinder their movements, lose the recent memory and become ill each time easier and more perennially.

it’s a mess having old persons!
Yes, the aging parents or already elderly are a burden, but it is the vital process of every living being. This burden is, for an upright conscience free from selfishness, an inescapable responsibility, to comply with the same love with which care is provided for the children to prepare them for life. But the difficulties of caring for the old is more rewarding than care for children, and the prize divine immense.

We cannot be deaf or blind to the demand for care of parents old, whose greatest illness is the loneliness. In all cultures and all religions, this responsibility is very serious; is first correspond to the attention and love received while grew, with all faults and errors that it may have had. Except for very special cases of paternal irresponsibility, the balance of love and care that we receive is very favorable to the parents. Forget is so so comfortable… to think about it humiliates the use of my time: sacrifice my leisure so nice in spending time with the old…

The Bible is very clear on the responsibility for the elderly parents, with all its weaknesses, deficiencies and requirements. The word of God is more demanding than any human word on the duty to parents. God never ceases to threaten who do not comply and to offer a reward to those who give love to their old. (See Ecclesiastical, Chap. III, Vers. 1-18).

In conclusion: we must give our aging parents who need us, in material things – the most comfortable-, but essentially in time, full of human warmth, tenderness and much, much understanding of their weaknesses of old age and of his solitude. Of step, do not forget that, if we do not die in fullness of life, we also make elderly and we will require time for our own children who, naturally, repeated what we saw do or fail to do.
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In response to Dr. Denise Hunnell’s December 29, 2015 Catholic Stand post, “

Family Life as ‘Domestic Pilgrimage’

”, a loyal reader brought up a question in regards to the Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (

Exodus 20:12

; cf.

Deuteronomy 5:16


I have yet to hear, never mind expounded upon, what would constitute a mortal sin in a family context setting. In today’s mobile society where siblings leave for far-away places seldom to return, is talking to one’s parents (or siblings) less than a week a year the kind of DIS-honor God envisioned when He placed that omission on the top ten? Would continuing to live one’s own life thousands of miles away while an aging parent or sibling slips the bonds of life in a medical setting or at home constitute a mortal or grievous sin, and should such a family member be denied Communion for acting this way? After all, it is very similar to divorce when you think about it.

This is a topic that touches me personally. Since 1994, I’ve devoted a good chunk of my life and time to taking care of physically disabled family members — first my younger brother (who passed away in 2011), and now my mother. Both my other siblings pitch in as well, to the extent they’re able. Between the three of us, we’re doing what we can to make sure our mother’s final years are lived in comfort and company.

But before we can attempt to answer our loyal reader’s question, we should first ask ourselves, “How does the Catholic Church understand the Fourth Commandment?” Before we can ask whether the situations the reader describe constitute dishonor, we need to know what’s meant by honor.

As I write this, I am eagerly awaiting the imminent arrival of my third grandchild. I have been privileged to share many happy times with my granddaughter and grandson; and I look forward to making more memories that include their baby sister. Like my own grandparents, I want to share my life with them; and I want to be included as their lives unfold and blossom.

I learned so much from my own grandparents. With my father’s parents in rural Louisiana, I thumped watermelons in the fields, swam in spring-fed swimming holes, and learned that coffee should be brewed strong. I sat on my grandfather’s lap and steered an old truck down the back roads long before I could reach the pedals. Every meal began with heads bowed in prayer.

From my mother’s parents in South Texas, I learned the expressiveness of the Spanish language, generous hospitality, and the art of bargaining in Mexican markets. I also learned what it means to live with Catholicism pervading every aspect of life. Images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lady, and the saints were everywhere; and a Rosary was either in hand or nearby.

I called these images to mind when Pope Francis spoke of grandparents and the elderly in his recent Wednesday General Audience:

The prayer of grandparents and of the elderly is a great gift for the Church, it is a treasure! A great injection of wisdom for the whole of human society: above all for one which is too busy, too taken, too distracted. Someone should also sing, for them too, sing of the signs of God, proclaim the signs of God, pray for them!

Too often the elderly, with their diminishing physical and mental capabilities, are viewed only as a burden. While the day eventually comes that Grandmother can no longer bake pies or host the Sunday dinner, she is often still able to pray. This continued faith in face of the challenges of aging is a gift, and should be an inspiration to her children and grandchildren.

There is no question that old age can be brutal. Physical and mental suffering is often unavoidable. Our culture often finds facing the hardships of the elderly repugnant, and seeks to keep them hidden. In the name of a distorted idea of compassion, there are many who advocate assisted suicide or euthanasia to “end the suffering”. But the word compassion means to “suffer with”. There is nothing authentically compassionate about killing the one who suffers so that we do not have to witness pain.

Certainly, there comes a time when further medical intervention is inappropriate. Death comes to each of us. It is an inevitable part of our earthly life. The Church is very clear that one is not under a moral obligation to utilize extraordinary means to prolong life (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2278). But the Church is equally clear that suffering does not diminish the value of human life (ibid., 2279). We do not judge lives and say they are unworthy of medical care. We do judge medical treatments and say that the burdens they impose do not justify the benefits they may offer in a particular situation for a particular patient. It is the treatment that is unworthy, not the patient.

It is actually a beautiful opportunity for virtue when we lovingly care for our elderly. Those who offer the care cultivate patience and generosity. The elderly who allow others to provide assistance cultivate humility. Holiness flourishes in families and in societies that embrace, rather than discard, those who are sick and suffering.

Pope Francis tells the story of a family whose elderly grandfather had difficulty eating and got food all over his face during meals. The father decided to sit the grandfather at a small table away from the family during meals, so that he would no longer disrupt the family dinner. The father came home one day and found one of his sons building another small table. The boy explained, “This is for you Dad, when you are old like Grandpa.” Clearly our actions, more than our words, teach children the value of the elderly.

The Holy Father’s plea for prayers and care for the elderly is one with the rest of his call to strengthen the family. The family transcends generational lines. The foundation of faith is transmitted as an inheritance from one generation to the next. With our mobile society, children often do not get to experience extended families. It is easy to forget about family members who are out of sight. Yet parents are denying their children an invaluable source of faith and love when they do not make the effort to appreciate and strengthen family ties.

One of my favorite painting is by El Greco and depicts the Holy Family, along with Mary’s mother, St. Anne, and his cousin, St. John the Baptist. I love the image of Christ in his humanity, nestled in the love of his extended family. Perhaps, as Lent draws to a close, we can reach out to a parent, grandparent, or other family member who might feel forgotten in his physical, mental, or spiritual suffering. Like Simon of Cyrene (vide Matthew 27:32), we can share the weight of their crosses and ease their burdens. Beginning in our own families, we can nurture authentic compassion and love across the generations.

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