Pope Francis: Don’t Hide Wrinkles With Makeup

Photo by Guille Álvarez on Unsplash

via the Vatican:

Our epoch and our culture, which reveal a worrisome tendency to consider the birth of a child as a simple matter of the biological production and reproduction of the human being, cultivate the myth of eternal youth as a desperate obsession with an incorruptible body. Because old age is — in many ways — despised. Because it bears the undeniable evidence of the end of this myth, that wants us to return to our mother’s womb to return with an ever young body.

Technology is fascinated by this myth in every way. While awaiting the defeat of death, we can keep the body alive with medicine and cosmetics which slow down, hide, erase old age. Naturally, well-being is one thing, feeding the myth is another. There is no denying, however, that the confusion between the two is creating a certain mental confusion in us. To confuse well-being with feeding the myth of eternal youth. Much is done to always have this youth: a lot of make-up, many surgical interventions to appear young. The words of a wise Italian actress, [Anna] Magnani, come to mind, when they told her she had to remove her wrinkles, she said, “No, don’t touch them! It took so many years to have them — don’t touch them!”. That is it: wrinkles are a sign of experience, a sign of life, a sign of maturity, a sign of having made a journey. Do not touch them to become young, that your face might look young. What matters is the entire personality; it’s the heart that matters, and the heart holds on to the youth of good wine — the more it ages the better it is.

Life in our mortal flesh is beautifully “unfinished”, like certain works of art precisely due to their incompleteness have a unique charm. Because life down here is an “initiation”, not the fulfilment. We come into the world just like this, like real people, like people who advance in age but who are always real. But life in our mortal flesh is too small a space and time to keep it intact and to bring to fulfilment in the world’s time the most precious part of our existence. Jesus says that faith, which welcomes the evangelical proclamation of the kingdom of God to which we are destined, has an extraordinary primary effect. It enables us to “see” the kingdom of God. We become capable of truly seeing the many signs of the approximation of our hope of fulfilment for that which in our life bears the sign of being destined for God’s eternity….

In this perspective, old age has a unique beauty — we are journeying toward the Eternal. No one can return to their mother’s womb, not even using its technological and consumerist substitute. This does not give wisdom; this does not provide a journey that has been accomplished; this is artificial. It would be sad, even if it were possible. The elderly person moves ahead; the elderly person journeys towards the destination, towards God’s heaven; the elderly person journeys with the wisdom of lived experience.