September 9,2007 23th Sunday of Year C

Today in Hodogaya Church we celebrated (one week early) Japan's "Respect for the Aged Day". Instead of a homily I read the famous prayer by Fr.Hermann Heuvers S.J. (R.I.P.) of Tokyo. Here is my own translation:

Life's Greatest Task
What is this life's most important task?
To grow old with a cheerful heart,
To be still even when I would like to be active,
To be silent when I would like to talk,
To have hope in times of frustration,
To carry my cross in humility and serenity of heart,
To put aside envy even when I see younger people walking God's path full of health and energy,
To humbly accept help from others when I would rather work for the sake of others,
So when I can no longer be useful for others because of frailty I need to gently and humbly accept the heavy burden of old age as a gift from God.
I have an aged heart that has been in use a long time and now God is giving it a final polishing so that I can return to my true home all shining.
To gradually release myself from the chains that bind me to this world is indeed a wonderful work.
When I cannot do things let me humbly accept these circumstances in humility.
However for my closing years God has kept for me the most important work of all, and that is:
Even if I can no longer do anything else with my hands, right to the very end I can join those hands in prayer.
I can pray, asking for God's blessings upon all those I love.
And when I come towards my end, approaching death may I hear God's voice when He says to me;
Fr Hermann Heuvers SJ from "Autumn of Life" translated by Barry Cairns

This prayer, well loved and used in Japan, deserves slow prayerful pondering.

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