Franciscan

Regaining a sense of purpose

Surrendering, letting go of the complexity and fastness of the workplace, can surround us with feelings of GUILT. We were catechized and trained in the art of guilt, and society inflicts us with these feelings if we apparently do not succeed, if we do not measure up to its specified models, if we do not have a "job" or seem to "earn our keep." So the privilege of retirement may move us to feel some lack of self-worth, some lack or loss of purpose in our life as far as the "business model" presents it.

How do we deal with guilt? There are those folks who may even add to these guilt feelings by chiding us, challenging us, or patronizing us for our lack of DOING. Be that as it may, guilt can be countered only by FORGIVENESS. If we are doing the best we can with what we have in terms of our time, our temperament, our talents, our health issues, and our intuiting the Lord’s call to us in the present moment, then we trust in the forgiveness of a merciful God. If God is so forgiving and understanding, then we need to forgive and understand ourselves.

Guilt will eventually give way to gratitude as we prayerfully pursue the light of God’s truth. And if indeed we are guilty of past failings in our work, retirement is another opportunity to begin again the all-important "work" of prayer, fraternal ministry, and ongoing formation. Maybe we are finally growing into the simple life, the real poverty, the real surrender of just BEING sons of our Heavenly Father.

Retirement may be the opportunity to rediscover our inner child and thereby heed the comforting words of Jesus: "Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

– Dennet Jung, OFM
for the Senior Friars Committee

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