Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
As I nursed my arthritic aches and pains over the weekend, I remembered a senior lawyer friend of mine who said, “I want to sue the guy who said that these are the ‘golden years.’” He told me that he’s had a shoulder replacement, hip replacement, knee replacement and bypass surgery. If these are the ‘golden years,’ then you can have the platinum years. Things you were once able to do with ease can now become a chore. Just try and drop something on the ground, and watch how long it takes you to pick it up.
There was a time when we were young, and we just couldn’t wait for the time to pass. Time seemed to pass like a snail. In grade school, we desired to be in high school. In high school, we wanted to be in college, and in college we longed to be in the work force – then family, and then looking forward to retirement. But now, time in the later years just seems to be exceeding the speed limits. I remember that a year-and-a-half ago, we talked about the fact that the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s 175th anniversary was approaching, and in three weeks, we are there. What is obvious is that there is not always enough time to accomplish all of the things we would like to do.
When it comes to culture, I find myself saying things that I would have attributed to the retirees in my first parish. Listening to comedians and saying, “I don’t get it. Is that supposed to be funny?” I now need my young seminarians to be cultural interpreters for my lack of modern sophistication. I realize that I am no longer always, “with it.” Even with their interpretations, my response usually is, “Oh, really? I still don’t get it.”
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates seeks to discuss the term “justice.” In the very beginning of the work, Socrates engages Cephalus, the father of Polemarchus, in a discussion on justice. After a short exchange, Cephalus excuses himself because he must offer sacrifices to the gods. Although this exchange is quickly dismissed by many experts, perhaps I am more sympathetic to Cephalus now in my later years, realizing that what we owe God takes primary place as we look to an eternity in His presence.
T. S. Eliot wrote a poem titled, “The Hollow Men.” In reflecting about the consequence of the separation of spirituality from reality, many fail to elevate the human person. It is they who form the world in a way that ends not with a “bang, but a whimper.” I admire our senior priests who continue to serve the Church and bring a sense of religious comfort to so many. They are an inspiration. They offer a vision of a God who declares His love for them. The end is not a bang or a whimper, but a celebration.
Now, as I stand on the precipice of the golden years, I try to envision what type of senior I will be. In the future, maybe you’ll find me in front of my house on the porch in a rocking chair, as I brandish a cane and yell at you to stay off my lawn unless you LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the November 6,2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.