Page last updated at 08:02 UTC, Tuesday, 18 February 2014 PH
Given all these expectations, we should heed the warnings contained in the observations of Archbishop Bergoglio: "In this consumerist, hedonistic, and narcissistic civilization, we have become accustomed to marginalizing certain persons. Among these are the aged. Married couples work and they decide to deposit the grandfather in a home for the aged. Oftentimes, it is not even a matter of the requirements of work, but a result of pure selfishness: the aging people are a bother in the home, they bring foul odor, etc. etc. ...There are families who have no choice, but they at least make it a point to visit their aging parents during the weekends and bring them to their own homes and entertain them in the midst of their loved ones...But in many cases, when I visit the homes for the aged, I ask those senior citizens about their children and they answer, trying to cover up for them, that they cannot come to see them because they are very busy in their work. There are many who abandon the ones who gave them to eat, who educated them, who cleaned up their mess. I find this very painful, it makes me cry..."
In our society, we should be very thankful that the extended family system is still the general rule and that the aging grandparents are not "deposited" in homes for the aged. We cannot be complacent, however. There are already signs that at the upper strata of society, the consumerist and hedonistic lifestyle--promoted by the westernized scripts of the sitcoms and telenovelas--is already glamorizing the nuclear family with very few children, living in two-bedroom condominium units that have no space for the aging grandparents. We have to do everything possible to preserve our ancient traditions--bolstered by the Christian spirit--of honoring the aging people among us. As Archbishop Bergoglio told Rabbi Skorka: "The aging person is the transmitter of history, the one who preserves for us the remembrances, the memories of our people, of our nation, of our family, of our culture, of our religion...He or she has lived long and even if he or she has lost his or her mind, he or she deserves all of our serious consideration. I have always been impressed with the thought that the fourth commandment is the only one that brings with it a promise: 'Honor your father and your mother and you shall have a long life on this earth.' To the extent that you honor the aged, God will bless you with long life. This indicates the mentality of God towards the old people. God must love them so much because He is very generous in blessing those who act piously towards their parents...."
All modesty aside, I can boast with all my brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces and all close relatives, that until the last moments of her life, we showered my late mother with all the love and affection we could give her. My sisters Tessie and Rina were her ever present caregivers. Whenever she had to be hospitalized in the last years of her 102 years of life, they never permitted her to stay even one day more than was extremely necessary in the hospital because we wanted her to always be in the atmosphere of a home--which was the home of Francis and Tessie. I am sure that this example given to my nephews and nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces will preserve in our clan the tradition of taking care of the aging persons long after our own generation is gone. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.