The Exercises and Ageing

BrianNobleA ‘first’ for the conference: as ill-health meant Bishop Brian Noble (left) was unable to be at the conference in person, he gave his presentation via Skype and this was enthusiastically received.

Starting with the prayer of an elderly Jesuit, ‘Lord, help me to grow old gracefully’ he showed how the graces of the four weeks of the Exercises can be lived out in the later stages of life.

Old age is so often regarded as a time of loss: loss of meaning and purpose, loss of faith, loss of possibility. Brian’s talk did not deny the potential difficulties of age and showed a compassionate understanding of the complex psychological issues that can arise with advancing years, but he gently showed how the insights of the Exercises, from the inner balance of the Foundation and Principle to the ‘Take, Lord, receive’ of the Contemplatio, can help old age become something one grows into as one lets go of the busyness of younger days and focusses on the faithfulness and trust of Christ in the midst of his suffering.

Brian himself clearly exemplified the grace of age and his contribution was warmly and thoughtfully received by his audience, the majority of whom were no longer young.

Bishop Emeritus Brian Noble is a native of Lancaster by birth. He was ordained and for 35 years served in parishes in that Diocese, in university chaplaincy and as a staff member of the Beda College in Rome. Throughout his ministry, including 15 years as Bishop of Shrewsbury, education and spiritual formation have been on-going priorities. Now, in retirement, they continue to be so.