Read All About It...


Carol Ann Smith, CHCJ and Eugene F. Merz SJ


Ignatian  Wisdom of Aging.

Suggested by Sr. Anita Iddings

                            The subtitle of this book gives us a clue of the content of the book, spiritual aging or aging spiritually.

                             It helps us change our focus from the losses in aging to the wisdom in aging.  It is a book sitting on the

                             table by your chair to be picked up frequently, a book not to be just read but prayed.  It is a simple

                              format but a book to remind us of our GIFT OF WISDOM IN  AGING. 


This book offers a faith perspective for reflection upon the experience of aging, drawing especially upon the wisdom of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It provides the reader with a context for understanding their spiritual journey and a variety of reflection questions aimed at deepening their gratitude and hope. The book uses poetry and quotations of well known people to affirm the reader s reflection process.

Even Better After 50


Erikson's Final Stage of Life: "Gerotranscendence"

   Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.


I'm teaching a very short course, "Spirituality for the Second Half of Life," at St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana on Sept. 11 and 12. Because I didn't want to pack the course syllabus with books by my own hand, I decided to re-read some of the books that have influenced me. One such book is The Life Cycle Completed, by Erik Erikson and his daughter Joan Erikson. Joan posits a ninth stage of life (her father's theory of human development includes only eight stages); this final stage she calls Gerotranscendence, which she describes thusly...

  1. A new feeling of 'cosmic communion' emerges
  2. Perception of time is paradoxically shortened to the very short run, and also lengthened to include a very broad horizon
  3. Space is contracting to a shorter radius
  4. Death become syntonic with personality, not a disparate, noxious thing to be avoided
  5. One's sense of self expands and becomes more connected

Joan Erikson goes on to say, at least indirectly, that transcendence may be the developmental vehicle for elders to seek "new life and role - a new self" in their later years, and that it includes exploring what she terms, "new and positive spiritual gifts." One of her points I really like is that transcendence can rise us above "the dystonic, clinging aspects of our worldly existence that burden and distracts us from true growth and aspiration." Trying to cling to what was, is perhaps the surest way to sabotage any advanced growth in our elder years.


Other writers echo different sentiments that pertain to transcendence... 


Fr. Richard Rohr captures an aspect of transcendence in his book Falling Upward when he speaks of the paradox of 'falling;' he says: "Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of our physical life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling can largely be experienced as falling upward and onward into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness, is finally connected to the whole, and lives inside the Big Picture." p. 153.


Sr. Joan Chittister, in her book The Gift of Years, teaches us another facet of transcendence when she speaks of mystery: "So mystery, the notion that something wonderful can happen at any time if we will only allow space for it, takes us into a whole new awareness of the immanence of God in time." p. 76


In his book The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle uses the notion of surrender to elucidate transcendence. "Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation. It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is. p. 171.


In my book, Even Better After 50, I use 'total wellness' as an instructive point about transcendence. "As we mature, we gradually learn that it is not our own choices, agendas, or directions that lead us down the most productive and growth-filled paths of our lives and eventually to our true selves. Rather, it is when we delve deeply into ourselves and there find God - and in the silent, creative union thereof - that our true life choices, agendas, and directions are most artfully realized." p. 191.


In the end, transcendence is an ethereal concept that speaks to us of that which is both beyond us and yet right within us. It is that condition of awareness that connects us to 'the numinous:' that both startles and soothes us, illuminates and shakes us, elevates and humbles us, widely broadens us and narrowly focuses us, compels and confuses us... and so much more. Transcendence is the stuff of the beyond that is right here and right now; the paradox of consciousness that can only be experienced when we let go of analysis, evaluation, metrics and measure, and allow our souls to open-up in simplicity to the real reality of God implanted in us.  



Next Steps.....







  1.  The book, Even Better After 50.


  2. The psycho-spiritual assessment self-illuminating 

       profile:    'The Well, Wise & Whole Profile' (WWWP) 

  3.  The DVD teaching program: 'Even Better After 50' 

  4.  The teaching certification course: 'Even Better After 50'





For more information about the course "Spirituality for the Second Half of Life," contact:


Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology
Enrollment Office
200 Hill Drive
St. Meinrad, IN 47577


Phone: (800) MEINRAD (634-6723)
Fax: (812) 357-6462

The Power of the Aging Brain


By Gene Cohen, Ph.D. and also an M.D.


Dr. Cohen takes solid research done by the National Institute on Aging which turns the common beliefs of aging on its head. He shows us that the brain is constantly changing (plasticity) and we can constantly learn.  He sees much that is positive in aging and reflects that until very recently work published in the area of aging was on the physical deficits that are more common as we age.  Aging was seen as a problem.  (Indeed, I saw an old book on nursing that was titled, “The Geriatric Problem.”)


Even though the book is based on research, it is a book that is quite readable.


Thank you to Sister Imelda Mauer for this review

(gerontologist, licensed nursing home administrator)


Imelda Maurer, cdp
In Service to Our Own
2404 Mayer Drive
St. Charles  MO  63301-1313

Books of interest



Joan Chittister




Amazon                       Kindle: $10.32                        Paperback: $10.86


The Author, Joan Chittister, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania. The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, is one of Chittister’s most recent books of the more than thirty she has authored. It provides us within a blueprint for growing old encouraging us to embrace and cherish the blessings of this time of life, rather than bemoan the difficulties and challenges we face.


The Gift of Years, highlights the importance of the elderly in our society and the gifts that they bring… wisdom, enlightenment and discernment of spirit, as only the elderly have lived through both the good and bad decisions of the past.


Chittister calls upon us not to ‘just live out years’, but to become more fully alive than ever. Each Chapter offers a reflection on what is burdensome and what is a blessing about growing old, offer us the opportunity to explore within and continue our spiritual growth.

Latest comments

12.08 | 07:17

Mary, If you sent your email via this message page, please send directly to me as I cannot see your email from this site... this is a privacy issue.

11.08 | 11:46

I already sent my email address!!

11.08 | 11:42

Send your email address to and I will send a PDF oF the information.

11.08 | 11:22

I am interested in the Aging Conference in Buffalo. Unfortunately, I am unable to read the bio of the speakers because the font is too small. Can you help?