Forever Young

November 03 2019 | by

I am, I have to admit, an elderly lady of 72 years of age. However, I really don’t feel elderly. I recently had a facelift. I did that to boost up my morale in the aftermath of becoming a widow. I regularly go to dances and, in these venues I found the latest love of my life: a ‘young’, attractive gentleman of 74! Together we have begun a new romance, and I enjoy going into town with him wearing my miniskirt.

Last night, however, my daughter-in-law, who has two young kids, told me she is embarrassed to visit me with them; that I am not a good example for them. In a roundabout, diplomatic way she told me that it is inappropriate for an ‘elderly’ woman to dress and act as though she were a film diva. This made me very sad, because I love my grandkids.

I find nothing wrong with doing something that makes me feel better! What do you think, Dr. Popcak?


Dear Forever Young, what constitutes appropriate attire can depend upon the place, time, occasion and, yes, even age. As such, this is one of those issues that the Church says is up to one’s ‘prudential judgment’. Even so, saying that does not mean anything goes. Here are a few principles a serious Christian would use to arrive at an answer to your question.

1. Prayer: Every decision we make must be rooted in prayer. There is nothing so silly that God doesn’t care about it. We sign ourselves with the cross of Christ as a way of saying that, in everything we do, we want to proclaim our love for God first and foremost. I want you to start praying, “Lord, help me know what it means to glorify you and lead others to you in what I wear and how I conduct myself in my life and relationships.”

2. Test the Spirits: Building on the first point, discernment is an important part of a healthy Christian’s prayer life. It is lovely to feel good, but feelings can be a poor indicator of what is right and wrong. Sometimes it feels good to do bad things, and at other times it feels bad to do good things. Spiritually and psychologically speaking, healthy people don’t stop with asking how something makes them feel. They ask if what they are doing leads them into closer communion with God, with the important people God has placed in their life, and with the person God is calling them to be. If your actions do this, then the feelings supporting this healthy behavior would be what St Ignatius called a “consolation.” That is, a prompting of the Holy Spirit to act in a certain way. If your actions do not promote this healthy fruit, St. Ignatius would call these feelings a “desolation,” which is, essentially, a temptation from the Enemy to behave in a manner that was, if not sinful, at least foolish or not good for us and the people we love.

3. Consider your Witness: In Titus 2, St Paul counsels more mature Christians to be mindful of the responsibility to be good models to younger men and women in the faith. Regarding the conduct of Christian women, St. Paul says, "Older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers… so that the word of God may not be discredited.”

In all we do, we must prayerfully consider the example we are setting for those who are coming up behind us in the faith. In prayer, ask God if he believes your actions are setting a good example of the kind of witness St Paul says Christian women are called to exemplify.

4. Don’t Give Scandal: In 1 Corinthians 8, St Paul notes that different Christian communities observe different customs. He says that even though these customs are not objectively binding, they are observed by these local communities for good reasons. He goes on to say that because violating these customs can cause discomfort, or even faith crises, for people in these communities it is better to go along with the preferences of the people you’re with.

In conclusion, even though Catholics can’t always turn to page X of the Catechism to tell them exactly what to do, there are several ways a sincere Christian can prayerfully discern what God wants for them in any given situation. I hope these principles will help you as you consider your choices moving forward.

Updated on November 03 2019