UP Catholic 12 09 2016 E Edition Page 5

I n the past few weeks Ive been asked to speak about loneliness in the elderly on numerous occasions. I was even quoted in a recent article by Catholic journalist Mary Rezac, entitled, Our Elders Are Lonely Do We Care? As we look forward to Christ- mas, lets hope we can all say, Of course we do! The issue of loneliness in the elderly may not be as clear-cut as it seems. While one recent study reported that nearly half of people over 60 said they feel lonely on a regular basis, another asserted that only 6 percent of American seniors said they often feel this way. Contradictory statistics aside, in our country roughly one third of those over 65 and half of those over 85 live alone. Sociologists see this trend as a sign of social progress. Improved health care, increased wealth and the emergence of retirement as a relatively long stage of life, they say, have created more choices for seniors and enabled them to live independent of their adult children. This sit- uation, often referred to as intimacy at a dis- tance, respects the life choices and autonomy of both older persons and their adult children, fostering more positive and supportive emo- tional bonds for all. In his book, Being Mortal, surgeon and au- thor Atul Gawande wrote, The lines of power between the generations have been renegoti- ated The aged did not lose status and con- trol so much as share it. Modernization did not demote the elderly. It demoted the family. It gave people the young and the old a way of life with more liberty and control, includ- ing the liberty to be less beholden to other generations. The veneration of elders may be gone, but not because it has been replaced by the veneration of youth. Its been replaced by veneration of the independent self. The problem is that our exultation of per- sonal autonomy over family and community fails to acknowledge that sooner or later, each of us will need the help of others to survive and enjoy a meaningful life. This brings us to Christmas. What is Christ- mas without family and community? And yet this season can also be a time of stress for those who are estranged from their loved ones, those who cannot afford to fulfill their childrens wishes, those whose holiday joys are but a distant memory, and those who find themselves alone in this world. Christmas is the perfect time to begin pro- moting (rather than demoting) family and practicing what our Holy Father asked in his apostolic letter for the closing of the Year of Mercy, Misericordia et Miseria . As we gather in our families, social circles and faith com- munities - even at our office parties - may we look around to see who is standing on the pe- riphery, who is at risk of being excluded from the joys of this season. Inspired by mercy, let us offer a word of consolation and begin restoring joy and dignity to those who feel left out. Gods mercy, Pope Francis suggested, inds expression in the closeness, affection and support that we offer our brothers and sisters, and in the strength of family. The drying of tears is one way to break the vicious circle of solitude in which we often find our- selves trapped, he wrote. Mercy leads us to see each person as unique. We have to remember each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal his- tory; Pope Francis wrote; this is what makes us different from everyone else. Our life, with its joys and sorrows, is something unique and unrepeatable that takes place under the mer- ciful gaze of God. If you are young, you can share Gods mercy this Christmas by patiently listening to your grandparents stories, or offering them a hand in a way that says, You are important to me. If you are a grandparent, look to see which one of your children or grandchildren is waiting for your affirmation or your words of wisdom. Even if you are infirm or in need and feel that you have nothing to give, you can still offer your smile, your thanks or a word of kindness to those who help you. Our Holy Father reminds us that God never tires of welcoming and accompanying us, despite our sins and frailties. Let our loving presence be the gift we give others this Christ- mas! Sister Constance Veit is director of commu- nications for the Little Sisters of the Poor. www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY December 9, 2016 5 Victims Assistance Coordinators bsf bwbjmbcmf up ifmq uiptf xip ibwf cffo ibsnfe uispvhi uif ejggjdvmu boe tpnfujnft qbjogvm qspdftt pg ifbmjoh boe ipqf How to begin the process ... Dbmm pof pg uif Wjdujnt Bttjtubodf Dppsejobupst Stephen Lynott at (844) 495-4330 Diane Tryan at (844) 694-4362 or write: Victims Assistance Coordinator d p Dbuipmjd Tpdjbm Tfswjdft pg uif VQ 1100 Ludington St. Suite 401 Escanaba MI 49829 Qmfbtf nbsl uif mfuufs Qfstpobm boe Dpogjefoujbm boe joejdbuf jo zpvs mfuufs ipx zpv xjti up cf dpoubdufe cz qipof ps cz mfuufs We always encourage you to report the incident to local civil authorities. The Diocese of Marquette reports all allegations to the appropriate civil authorities. Jg zpv lopx pg bo jodjefou pg uif tfyvbm bcvtf pg b njops cz bozpof jo Divsdi tfswjdf jodmvejoh b nfncfs pg uif dmfshz b sfmjhjpvt b mbz fnqmpzff ps wpmvouffs xf fodpvsbhf zpv up dpnf gpsxbse tp uibu xf dbo ublf bdujpo up qspufdu puifst boe ifmq uiptf xip ibwf cffo ibsnfe up gjoe ifbmjoh We are open to and respect your complaint; you are important. We want to make this process as safe as possible. VENISON & BEAR PROCESSING Custom Smoking Quality Homemade Sausage The Buck Stops here!" We also specialize in Farm Animal processing. 1370 Commercial Ave Crystal Falls, MI 49920 Pat & Chris Sommers (906) 874-6032 Are your grandparents lonely? Sharing God's mercy this Christmas GUEST COLUMN Sister Constance Veit (CNA/EWTN News) - A fire has closed a pro-life preg- nancy center and chapel in New Mexico, shutting down its operations for the foresee- able future. Local TV station KOB4 reported that the FBI determined that the fire was deliberately set. The Albuquerque Fire Department received a call at 12:32 a..m. on the morning of Nov. 23, alerting them to smoke coming out of Project Defending Life, a pro-life pregnancy center in the city. When the firefighters arrived, they extinguished a fire in the chapel as well as others in rooms with pro-life informa- tion. No one was injured in the blaze. Holy Innocents Chapel, located within the Project Defending Life center, is a Catholic chapel that was open for prayer and benediction. The Eucharist was reserved in the tabernacle at the time of the fire, but was safely removed, undamaged. Project Defending Life is lo- cated within walking distance from a Planned Parenthood, which performs abortions up to 19 weeks, and is also sev- eral miles away from South- western Womens Options, which performs third-trimes- ter abortions. Fire destroys chapel, pro-life pregnancy center

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