NR. 2 – 2022

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2022.2

Pr. prof. dr. Ștefan ILOAIE – Frumusețile și provocările bătrâneții. Perspective morale

Summary: The Beauties and Challenges of Old Age. Moral Perspectives

The state of being old is not solely determined by the number of years one has lived; it is equally influenced by an individual’s inner state. In this context, some people may be young in years but exhibit characteristics associated with old age, while others may be considered old despite their youth. Paradoxically, beauty can be identified in the aging process. This includes the satisfaction derived from past experiences, the realization of accomplishments, inner peace, and the comforting assurance that rest will be found, both from unrealized goals and the satisfaction of having done one’s best. Certainly, old age brings its own set of challenges, many of which are commonly associated with this stage of life: the natural progression of time, the acknowledgment of the body’s vulnerabilities, limitations, and shortcomings; feelings of loneliness and abandonment; a sense of inactivity and futility; the experience of suffering and illness; and the consciousness of the impending reality of death. Therefore, providing spiritual guidance and assistance to the elderly and those at the end of life stands out as a significant mission for the Church. Many individuals in these circumstances, often grappling with illness and suffering, require more than just medical care – they need someone, a neighbor, to extend their care to encompass spiritual well-being. This entails a proactive and compassionate approach, marked by attentiveness, balance, sensitivity, diversity, sincerity, warmth, and, above all, love. It echoes Christ’s imperative call as expressed in Matthew 25:34-35: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father… for I have been sick and you looked after Me…” Both spiritual and physical care for the elderly is not just a duty but a task expected of all individuals, particularly Christians. Being a Christian is not merely a quality but a nobility, even a mission. The Romanian Orthodox Church, grounded in these principles, has established and continues to organize institutional activities, both locally and centrally, dedicated to providing attention, care, and love to the elderly. In this perspective, caring for the elderly is synonymous with caring for ourselves, whether young or not so young. Old age, despite its challenges, is considered a blessing, encompassing both joys and trials. The blessing of old age encompasses the gifts of a lengthy life, the accumulation of diverse experiences, and being born into a specific generation, along with the contribution of various qualities such as wisdom. This uniqueness characterizes each elder. While conventional wisdom often attri­butes the continuity and identity of a nation to the presence of younger generations, the reality is that both elements rely significantly on the existence and wisdom of the elderly. This offers profound depth to the proverb: “Those without elders should seek to acquire one for themselves”.

Pr. prof. dr. habil. Gabriel-Viorel GÂRDAN – Spiritualitate și management în activitatea de îngrijire instituționalizată a persoanelor vârstnice

Summary: Spirituality and Management in the Institutional Care of the Elderly

Institutional care for the elderly is the most complex type of care, involving specialised human resources and the highest costs, over an indefinite time-horizon. This type of care is aimed at people whose degree of autonomy is significantly reduced and who require support in carrying out daily activities and specialist care. Institutionalisation is both a failure and an opportunity. It is a failure of social policies on active ageing, a failure for the ability of families to integrate and value the elderly relative, a psycho-emotional failure for the in-patient who has to start a new life in an institution providing social services, albeit in a community with similar needs as their own. On the other hand, institutionalisation is often the salvific solution for the person who needs to live the last part of their life with dignity, cared for with responsibility, treated with respect and surrounded by love. It is an opportunity for those who can no longer bear the burden of loneliness, for those who are trying to preserve or regain some of their autonomy, for those who need a safe environment adapted to their personal needs. It is a breakthrough solution for families overwhelmed by the care needs of elderly family members or for those unable to take responsibility for the personal care of relatives. When institutionalisation occurs in a care home under the patronage of the Church, this process becomes a blessing and a guarantee that the institutionalised person is not abandoned, but is welcomed with open arms in the “guest house” that is ready to comfort, to host, to heal both the brother “fallen among robbers” or the weary traveller. The pastoral care of institutionalised elderly people is a subdivision of pastoral work, which itself is the most complex of sciences and the art of the arts. Anchored in the demands of the Christian mission to lead people towards the kingdom of God, the pastoral care of the elderly challenges the priest to guide and to accompany the faithful who have reached a biological old age towards the end of their earthly life and to prepare them for eternal life. For those who are suffering, the priest seeks to give them the opportunity to use their remaining time for spiritual renewal and the strengthening of their faith. He conveys to them a spiritual understanding of their illness and the pain it causes, sublimates their fear of death and prepares them for the encounter with Christ and for eternal life. Drug therapy can relieve symptoms and reduce or even suppress physical pain. However, the suffering of the soul can only be alleviated through metanoia, through inner transformation, by re-centring existence in God. The man who does not see God, who does not feel His love, suffers even when nothing hurts. The man who encounters God in those close to him, who care for him with dedication and patience, loves the pain that brings him the joy of being comforted. In a nursing home under the Church’s care, the very environment, Christ in the chalice, the icons on the walls, the smell of basil and incense, the antidoron and the oil, the gentle voices, the tender touches, the deft hands and serene faces of those who serve the Lord who has taken the form of a suffering man, all help suffering become spiritualised and pain become transformed into the murmur of a psalm. The Christian who is prepared for eternal life, strengthened by faith in the Resurrection of Christ and in eternal life will succeed in transforming the imminent fear of death into a feeling of expectation and serenity, of total trust in the divine goodness expressed by the psalmist in the words: ‘into your hands I will commit my spirit’. (Psalm 30:5). The management of a successful social institution is technically identical to that of any other competitive organisation. The aim, however, is fundamentally different; the profit sought by a social establishment of the Church is the wellbeing, the assistance, the comfort and the consolation of those under its care. A spiritually-based management does not exclude the general means of managerial activity, but imbues them with a spiritual dimension, the intrinsic motivation of actions being the serving of Christ who identifies with each beneficiary of the services provided in the institutional setting, but also with each employee and volunteer. The binding force of all these actions, in an act of spiritualised management, is love for one’s brothers and sisters, responsibility towards one’s fellow human beings, and fidelity to the Christian vision of the organisation’s mission. From this perspective, the activity of institutional care for the elderly is an act of service, the beneficiary is not a client but the recipient of loving action, the employee is a fellow-servant, the Church is not the person-in-charge but a source of blessing and a model of love. The supreme motivation for all the effort made – material, physical and spiritual – is the desire to fulfil the call of Christ.

Prof. dr. Cristina GAVRILUȚĂ – Pot fi bătrânii fericiți?

Summary: Can the Elderly Be Happy?

The above proves that the elderly can be happy, provided that society develops a series of social policies appropriate to them, but also to the extent that seniors have learned the lessons of life and lived experiences. The art of living a happy old age is equally about a recalibration of our existence from the perspective of the corporeal, the social and most especially from the spiritual perspective. Finally, in old age, happiness consists in living your age with dignity and in exiting the stage of life with the joy of having fulfilled the order of nature and having usefully passed through this formidable human experience.

Albert E. ALEJO, SJ – ‘Alagàng matandâ’: Voices of Elderly Filipino Caregivers Who Take Care of Elderly Italian Employers

Summary: ‘Alagàng Matandâ’. Voices of Elderly Filipino Caregivers Who Take Care of Elderly Italian Employers

În literatura de specialitate referitoare la problema îngrijirii la domiciliu a vârstnicilor italieni (anziani), majoritatea studiilor se concentrează aproape exclusiv asupra fenomenului tinerilor imigranți filipinezi (badanti) din Peninsula Italică, care oferă servicii de îngrijire sub un triplu aranjament: (i) FISSA – când îngrijitorul locuiește permanent cu bătrânul respectiv; (ii) LUNGO ORATIO – când îngrijitorul petrece între 6 și 8 ore la domiciliul bătrânului; și (iii) PART TIMER – când îngrijitorul merge la domiciliul bătrânului doar atunci când este solicitat. Ceea ce literatura de specialitate ignoră este tocmai fenomenul imigranților filipinezi vârstnici (60-65+ ani), care se ocupă cu îngrijirea bătrânilor italieni. În astfel de cazuri, îngrijitorul și cel îngrijit au, de obicei, o vârstă apropiată. În unele situații, cel care oferă îngrijire este chiar mai în vârstă decât cel îngrijit. Tipul de aranjament este identic cu cel menționat în cazul îngrijitorilor tineri, cu mențiunea că legea italiană nu permite celor cu vârste înaintate să desfășoare activitate sub un contract de muncă, cu toate beneficiile acestuia. Bazându-se pe o metodologie empirică (interviuri și conversații), studiul de față umple o lacună existentă în literatura de specialitate, analizând nu atât problemele generale de natură economică sau socială cu care se confruntă acești îngrijitori filipinezi aflați la o vârstă înaintată în Italia, cât problemele existențiale și frământările interioare ale acestora, într-un spațiu cultural și geografic străin. Experiențele acestor badanti filipinezi constituie un locus theologicus (o sursă de cunoaș­tere și întâlnire cu Dumnezeu), dar și o zonă de evanghelizare, în contextul în care interacțiunea dintre îngrijitor și cel îngrijit facilitează transmiterea unor valori și credințe creștine într-un context secularizat. Cele treisprezece secțiuni ale studiului oferă o imagine detaliată asupra multiplelor experiențe ale îngrijitorilor filipnezi în Italia, răspunzând unor întrebări profunde și variate, mai ales despre chestiuni care țin de înțelegerea complexității vieții, bolii, morții și vieții de după moarte. Nu sunt neglijate nici problemele care țin de dimensiunea întrupată a existenței omenești și de progresul duhovnicesc al celor care, la o vârstă înaintată, se dedică acestei munci deloc ușoare, care antrenează practicarea și dezvoltarea unor virtuți creștine, fără de care interacțiunea dintre cel care îngrijește și cel îngrijit nu funcționează optim. De-a lungul interviurilor, reflecțiile despre raportarea acestor îngrijitori de bătrâni la moștenirea spirituală a credinței lor creștine și despre provocările întâmpinate de aceștia într-o societate care refuză valorile fondatoare ale Europei evidențiază numeroasele tensiuni care le marchează existența, în încercarea de integrare în spațiul cultural italian, fără pierderea identității și specificului lor filipinez. Concluzia principală, care transpare din mărturiile celor intervievați, este că, dincolo de valoarea sociologică, culturală sau economică a oricărei analize a fenomenului îngrijitorilor filipinezi cu vârstă înaintată care oferă asistență bătrânilor italieni, orice cercetare onestă a subiectului în discuție nu poate trece cu vederea rolul credinței creștine și amprenta acesteia asupra relaționării dintre badanti și anziani.

Pr. dr. Ilarion MÂȚĂ – Axiologia senectuții. Îmbătrânirea activă din perspectiva tinerilor de astăzi – studiu de caz

Summary: Axiology of Ageing. Active Ageing from the Perspective of Today’s Youth – A Case Study

Social assistance is the process by which citizens benefit from social protec­tion measures and professional help in order to meet their needs and to integrate well into society. In this context, the set of professional activities through which people can benefit from the assistance process in order to solve or improve their situation is the social assistance process. Psychological aging is the result of age-induced changes in biostructures, which constitute the material support of mental life and in that of the actual performance of mental functions. These changes are based on internal factors (heredity, “wear and tear” of the psychic life system) and external factors, of the environment (ecological, social, cultural). The events in the social environment (socio-professional, socio-cultural, relational), which intervene in a particular way in the existence of the elderly, resonated in his psyche, being at the basis of some psychological changes or mental illnesses characteristic of involution. Among these we highlight the following: withdrawal from activity; giving up some activities; decrease in biological potential; somatic illnesses, invalidations; the decrease in the number of family members (the departure of the children who have become adults, the death of the partner); the disappearance of old friends. The main social changes specific to the third age are: retirement, changes in social status, restructuring of self-esteem, social isolation, the relationship between generations. One of the effects of retirement is the decrease in income and the emergence of financial difficulties, which are reflected in the loss of social position and prestige. The exit from the labour field and the reduction of the family nucleus by the departure of the children create complex changes in the sphere of the roles and statuses of the elderly. Degenerative diseases turn this fragile period into a stage of alienation, all the more so as one experiences the feeling of social uselessness and abandonment given the time crunch of children who have become adults, leaving their parental home with their own family. The professional sub-identity is de-officialised and integrated into the public social sub-identity. The parental sub-identity remains relatively expansive due to the appearance of grandchildren who emotionally request the extended identification of the descendants. Self-esteem is derived for the elderly from the consideration of one’s own person as moral and religious. The elderly represent a value through the spirit and not through the body or psyche. Is old age a curse or a blessing? Why do so many old people face old age with the painful feeling that their lives have lost their meaning, that everything they had, what they were, and what they cared about belongs to the past, that they are just an extra burden on those close? How a man will feel in his old age depends not on external factors, but on how he lives, according to an old French saying, “every man grows old as he lives”. How man will feel in his old age depends on how he answers the question: “who am I?”. The first questionnaire, Active aging from the perspective of seniors, was applied to a number of 100 seniors, beneficiaries of socio-medical assistance services, in the residential system or home care, within the Association of „St. Voivod Ștefan cel Mare – Hârja”, Bacău county, reflecting their role in society and the ecclesial community, and the second Why are we afraid of growing old?The axiology of senescence, was applied to a number of 100 young people with the aim to capture the role of the elderly in their lives. In order to value senescence, young people expressed their objective opinion on the role and value of the elderly in their lives by concretely indicating the benefits that young people have in the intergenerational exchange and in the direct relationship with the seniors.

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