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Synod 2018: “Sharing the Wisdom of Time,” A Dialogue Between Young People and Elders

A Book Containing 250 Interviews with the Elderly

“If the elderly don’t dream, the young people can’t see the future… We need grandparents who are dreamers and who hold on to their memories,” is Pope Francis’ message, which gave life to the project “Sharing the Wisdom of Time.”

It’s a book that contains 250 interviews with older persons, of 30 different countries, and the Pope comments on them, even sharing moments of his own personal biography.

ZENIT was at the presentation of the project “Sharing the Wisdom of Time” presented at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23, 2018, in the Augustinianum Patristic Institute of Rome, with the presence of the Holy Father. The Augustinianum Is a university institution belonging to the Order of Saint Augustine, and is affiliated to the Pontifical Lateran University.

It’s an initiative of Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, Director of “La Civilità Cattolica” review,  and published in English with Loyola Press, who intervened in the ceremony of the book’s presentation, in the framework of the Synod of Bishops, taking place in Rome from October 3-28, on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

WYD Panama 2019

Archbishop Jose Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama, who is president of the Organizing Committee of the 2019 World Youth Day (WYD), expressed a few words to the Holy Father and to all those present.

The Panamanian Prelate gave his own testimony of this experience. “We have begun these areas of dialogue in Panama, in the context of the preparation for the World Youth Day. It was an appeal made by the Pope to young people at the end of the WYD in Krakow, so that they would go to the WYD in Panama by the hand of the elderly, of their grandparents.”

After the Panamanian Archbishop’s words, Father Antonio Spadaro described how the initiative arose. This lovely inter-generational project was possible thanks to the collaboration of two Associations: the Jesuit Refugee Service and Unbound, which takes care of over 300,000 elderly people and children in 18 countries.

Thanks to Unbound, a non-profit Association, more than 250 histories were collected in a year and a half, said Father Spadaro. The Jesuit presented this compilation of histories to Pope Francis.

The Holy Father has had a threefold participation in this project: he wrote the Preface of the book, he made his contribution as an older person, “explaining that he has had to learn to be elderly,” and he wrote some stories, noted Father Spadaro.

The Pope Remembers His Grandmother

On suggesting the project to Pope Francis, “it was as if he focused his eyes on the history of the persons. He notices the photo, and his eyes rest on the faces, the hands, which are like a secret mark that can reveal the heart and the years,” said Father Spadaro.

“He has a vivid memory of his grandparents, in particular, his grandmother Rosa. “She was despoiled so many times of her affections, but she always looked up, saying some things of simple wisdom; she didn’t counsel much, but she thought and prayed a lot …“ he said to me. This gaze upwards is what Francis looks for in the elderly,” revealed the promoter of “Sharing the Wisdom of Time.”

Martin Scorsese

 Thus, as reflection of the book itself, the presentation of “The Wisdom of Time” was an inter-generational dialogue, in which young and older people took part, and asked the Holy Father some questions.

Film Director Martin Scorsese attended the presentation and asked Pope Francis a question: “Holy Father today in general it’s believed the people are incapable of changing, that goodness is only a posture and that humiliation, destruction and terror are simply ‘the way of the world.’ One listens, reads and sees this everywhere. It’s an accepted point of view. How does a human being live a good and just life in a society motivated by greed and vanity and controlled by the exercise of violent power, in other words, in the presence of evil?”

Six questions

A group of three young girls (from Italy, Colombia and the United States) and four older persons (a Professor of Florence, grandparents of Malta and American filmmaker Martin Scorsese) asked the Pope six questions on the transmission of faith, coexistence and respect for others in the context of the disposable culture and the presence of evil in our contemporary society.

About Rosa Die Alcolea

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