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Congregation for the Clergy
General catechetical directory

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94 Adult age is distinguished chiefly by the awareness of having achieved a fully developed personality.


The man who has successfully passed through each stage of his development and who has been able to enter into fellowship with others and to exercise creative ability, tries, when he has reached adult age, to reduce to a unified whole ail the experiences of his personal, social, and spiritual life. A danger lies in the fact that the adult, especially if he belongs to an industrial society, may think that he can obtain this unity merely by conforming himself to the society in which he lives. But the perfect attainment of personality does not consist in a merely exterior balance between personal life and its social context, but it looks especially toward the attainment of Christian wisdom.


For this reason catechesis must strive to Lead man to observe the order of priority among ends, that is, to perceive more fully the meaning of life and death, in the light of the death and resurrection of Christ.

95 The importance of old age is still not sufficiently recognised in the pastoral ministry.


In our times the number of the aged is increasing more and more. The aged are often neglected by contemporary society, however, and this tact must be carefully noted for its relevance to pastoral activity.

As a matter of tact, the aged can contribute no small benefit to the community both by their work, which is not always justly appreciated, and by the witness that flows from their experience.


Moreover, there is a duty in justice to help the aged by a catechesis that has reference to death, which biologically is near at hand, and socially is to some extent already present, since almost nothing is expected any more from their activity.


Catechesis should teach the aged to have supernatural hope, by virtue of which death is considered a crossing over to true life and as a meeting with the divine Savior. In this way old age can become a sign of the presence of God, of immortal life, and of the future resurrection. This will, indeed, be an eschatological witness that the aged can bear by their patience toward themselves and toward others, by their benevolence, by their prayers poured out in praise of God, by their spirit of poverty and the trust that they put in God.


Unquestionably, it would be a serious loss to the Church if the great number of the aged who have been baptised were not to show that their faith shines with a brighter light when death approaches.



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