Book Review: Pope Francis and friends, Sharing the Wisdom of Time, Loyola Press, ISBN 9780829446227
As the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on 25 July approaches, we’ve asked two generations to review Pope Francis’ beautiful hardcover book Sharing the Wisdom of Time, revealing everyone can learn from our elders.
Sr Catherine Ryan rsm
Sharing the Wisdom of Time by Pope Francis and Friends was born out of an inspiration that came to Pope Francis during his morning prayer.
He wished to find a way for elders across the world to share the wisdom of their years with the young.
Indeed, Pope Francis spoke of the great responsibility entrusted to elders to transmit their life’s experience, their family and community history, to future generations.
As a member of the elder cohort myself, I was touched by this affirmation of the gift of years by Pope Francis.
This beautiful book is typical of the pastoral approach of Pope Francis: it is at once practical and personal, inclusive and reciprocal. Stories gathered from men and women from all walks of life around the globe, speak of the universal experiences of work, struggle, love, death, and hope.
As well as calling on the elders to be memory keepers and sharers of wisdom, Pope Francis speaks of his hope to build an alliance between the generations.
A lovely feature of this book is his invitation to younger people to reflect on what they have learnt from an elder.
In reading this book, I recall Pope Francis’ closing homily at World Youth Day in Panama: “Stand up with your grandparents and elders to speak out and realise the dream that the Lord has dreamed for you”. Pope Francis’ sureness of the youth of the Catholic Church as “not the future, but the now of God” inspires proactivity in discernment and diligence in mission among us, young people.
Through pilgrimage, I witnessed the faithful richness and strength of the global Catholic youth community. In reading this book, I am reminded of the memory and wisdom of my inspirers also; my visionary elders through whom my faith has persevered.
This book reveals the gently transformative wisdom of our grandparents who, in their love and dedication to the Lord, reform evolving cultures of ingratitude and insecurity. Sharing the Wisdom of Time enthuses an enriching encounter between the young and the elderly. The subtly insightful testimonials of the elders inspire the memory of my own grandparents.
I recall the eloquent prayerfulness of my theatrically cultured grandfather and the loving patience of my jumper-knitting grandmother. In a technicoloured age, their humility and gratitude in faith often inspires a sense of spiritual fortitude.
My grandparents, and the grandparents of my faith, have learnt devotion through recognising the presence of the Holy Spirit.
All of us, young missionaries, might do the same.
Sr Catherine Ryan is the former Chancellor (Ministries) of the Diocese of Parramatta and is a Sister of the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta.
Mollie Bauerhuit is a parishioner of St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood.
This article was originally featured in the Ordinary Time/Winter 2021 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.