Prayer for the Aged

In my life as a priest I have the privilege and joy of getting to know many older members of the parish. Now in my seventy-fourth year, I am an older person myself. There are great benefits in getting old. You have a breadth of experience; you have grown in wisdom and understanding. The downside is that you have to deal with the loss of strength and agility, and having to face decline. You can experience a feeling of isolation, the realisation to many people we are invisible.

Over many speeches, Pope Francis urged people not to ‘hide the frailty of old age’ out of a fear of a loss of dignity. Frailty, he argued, ‘is a teaching for all of us’ and could bring about an ‘indispensable’ reform in society, because ‘the marginalisation of the elderly — both conceptual and practical — corrupts all seasons of life, not just that of old age.’

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote, in his letter to the elderly: ‘Old age is not without its own benefits.’ As Saint Jerome observes, with the quieting of the passions it ‘increases wisdom and brings more mature counsels.’ In a certain sense, it is the reason for that wisdom which generally comes from experience, since ‘time is a great teacher.’ The prayer of the Psalmist is well known: Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain wisdom of heart (Ps 90:12).

The reason I decided to write this today was that I received a prayer, written by a parishioner, who is caring for an elderly parent. They wrote: ‘I wrote it for my mother who got great comfort from it. I am aware I am no theologian, but thought you might like it, in which case please borrow it for anything you deem suitable.’ Here it is:


1. Good Lord, I am old
My Time is near
Through you, I can go on

2. Good Lord, I am weak
Teach me to be strong
Through You, I can go on

3. Good Lord, I am sad
Teach me your joy
Through You, I can go on

4. Good Lord, I am frightened
Teach me to be brave
Through You, I can go on

5. Good Lord, I have sinned
Teach me your mercy
Through You, I can go on

6. Good Lord, I want to die
Teach me serenity
Through You, I can go on

7. Good Lord, I doubt
Teach me to be faithful
Through You, I can go on

8. Good Lord, I want to go to you
Teach me patience
Through You, I can be ready

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest