World-renowned film director Martin Scorsese is one of the ‘elders’ who imparts his wisdom in a new book specially commissioned by Pope Francis, Sharing the wisdom of time. It was launched by Messenger Publications on Tuesday 23 October 2018, and simultaneously launched by Pope Francis in the Vatican.
Following the success of the New York Times bestseller Dear Pope Francis, a letter exchange between Pope Francis and children from around the world, Sharing the wisdom of time gives older people an opportunity to share their wisdom with upcoming generations. The inspiration which guided this ‘elders project’ was the Pope’s conviction that “to walk toward the future, the past is needed”. He invited older people to share their experience of love, loss, hope, peace and faith in reflections and personal narratives to inspire future generations.
A large number of contributions were submitted for the project, and each of the contributions chosen finally for publication receives a personal response from the Pope. Three Irish people are included in the line-up of published submissions. The book is illustrated with stunning photographic portraits taken by National Geographic photographer Paul Audia.
In his reflection, Martin Scorsese remarks: “Cinema was not a career choice for me. It was my vocation: I had to make movies. I knew that to make the ones I wanted and needed to make, I had to give everything of myself. I had to approach moviemaking with devotion, rigor, and humility… It’s never about us, the ones who make movies or write poetry or compose music – it’s about doing justice to the life around us and to the question of what it is to be human.”
“I think I have learned more,” Scorsese adds, “from failure, rejection and outright hostility than I have from success.”
Responding to Scorsese, Pope Francis stresses personal freedom and the necessity of using “what you have in your mind and in your heart” on one’s “journey to discern and discover what you most desire”.
“What really leads you forward,” he continues, “is the sense of vocation. It is a call, which is far more than a choice.”
Rejecting any sense that a person’s life is pre-scripted, like a movie, Pope Francis remarks that “we must let ourselves freely encounter life and God. And sometimes life will surprise us like a sudden and unexpected insight.”
“You learn from your mistakes and failures,” the Pope adds, “as Martin says. To say, ‘My life is already written’ is a meaningless excuse, a useless abstraction”.
Sharing the wisdom of time (Messenger Publications, Ireland; Loyola Press, USA) contains the Pope’s interactions with elder people from all every corner of the globe – Latin America, the Far East, USA, Africa, Europe, Ireland and the UK. The three Irish contributions are from Des O’Grady SJ, Dublin, who sees some light in the darkness of living with Alzheimer’s; Margaret ‘Mo’ West, an artist from Clifden, Galway, who speaks about the importance of hope; and Margaret O’Reilly, a former nurse and granny from Derry, who remembers a valuable lesson she learnt as a child, after telling her first lie.
Commenting on the book, Cecilia West of Messenger Publications says, “Many agree that our world is a mess, but is anyone listening to older people who have seen it all before? They have suffered war, hunger and international tensions.”
West also notes that on a personal level older people have known heartbreak, loss, and times of happiness and inspiration. “Many elders have a real gift of wisdom,” she remarks; “This book gives us an opportunity to listen to that wisdom, and to hear Pope Francis’ reflections on what they have to say.”
West also notes that Pope Francis, with his strong stance on the environment and his criticism of neo-liberal economics, is a figure who bridges the artificial gap between the young and old, a perceived gap that has become such a negative feature of modern life.
Sharing the Wisdom of Time by Pope Francis and friends will be published by Messenger Publications on Tuesday 23 October 2018. Priced at €24.95 in hardback.
For further information, interviews with Irish contributors, images etc, please contact Cecilia West 087-6281860, 01-7758577, or [email protected]