Rich in Years English

Rich in Years

Finding Peace and Purpose in a Long Life

183 Pages

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Foreword by Cardinal Seán O’Malley

Why shouldn’t growing older be rewarding? Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books have helped over a million readers through life’s challenges, wants us to rediscover the spiritual riches that age has to offer. Now in his seventies, Arnold finds himself personally facing the trials that come with aging. But he knows, from decades of pastoral experience, what older people and their caregivers can do to make the most of the journey. In this book, he shares stories of people who, in growing older, have found both peace and purpose.

Pete Seeger, musician
Wonderful words of hope. Savor them.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York
Compact yet compelling… A wealth of personal stories and hope-filled insights. 

J.I. Packer, Regent College
Unassuming yet outstanding, this is the best book I know on aging. Wonderfully invigorating.

Softcover, 5.375 x 7.5
ISBN: 978-0874868975

This book is also available in Deutsch 한국어 español


I am reading "Rich in Years" for the third time. This book has brought new life to my 66 years on earth and I am going to be richer than ever because of it. Congratulations and thank you to JohannCArnold. Everyone should read this priceless book...its no wonder that my copy was free. Bless.

What a wonderful book and what wonderful comments!!...I am heartily sick and tired of (usually charismatic!) Christians saying that it is always, must always be, God's will for each and every one of us to always be fully and completely healthy, strong, fit...otherwise we lack faith!..."My strength is made perfect in weakness"!!

Your book recalled for me my own journey, and is a great help to those I know who do not see good in their later years.

Rich in Years is a very inspirational book that I found to be a flow of "Yes" to the plan that Jesus gives us in how to envelope love all of our life. It is very rewarding to read each chapter and reflect as the 'fire jumps from log to log' and spark the spirit within us. We recognize the Presence of God as well as our inner strength, secure in love, and hopeful as we journey and share our faith. It's such a gift to be Rich in Years and therefore shine with the good news of Jesus; a constant on our lips.

Just purchased this book for my kindle on Wednesday. I just finished it! I love this book and have referred it to many of my friends, also via Facebook. My husband Tim & I are married 47 years this year. We have been Blessed to care for Tim's mom and later his uncle Bud in our home when they were ill and unable to care for themselves. It was the Grace of God that helped us through the difficult times and also showed us so many wonderful gifts. Our relationship has grown stronger and our Faith has shown us many ways to share with others. I firmly believe that people of all ages can benefit from this book.whether it is yourself, family or friends. Thank you so much. God Bless You, Kathy

Living with purpose is the key to finding peace and richness in life at any age, as Johann Christoph Arnold clearly expresses in this book. He challenges the utopian idea that our lives would be happier if we could remain forever young. He also challenges the conventional wisdom that once our families are raised and our professional careers ended, our purpose in life has been fulfilled. My mother used to talk of old people whose families were raised and working days were over who would sit in a dark corner by the stove, day after day, just waiting to die. Old people today are more likely to be sitting in front of the TV with a drink in their hand or distracting themselves with endless travel, nonetheless, just waiting to die. If they ever felt a sense of purpose, it has been either achieved or lost along the way. They have no sense of purpose for living other than to delay the inevitability of death.

Purpose is something to be lived, not something to be completed or achieved, as Arnold expresses so eloquently though the personal experiences and stories in his book. The ultimate achievement of life is death, which is neither to be advanced nor delayed but accepted, better yet embraced, as the necessary and desirable end of life. Every person has a purpose at all stages of life, including in old age, and thus has a continuing opportunity for peace, richness, and happiness. Our means of fulfilling our purpose changes with the phases of life, but we always have the means of doing whatever we really need to do at any given time of life. As our bodies and minds inevitably age, our purpose is fulfilled through experience and wisdom rather than brawn and brains. We become rich in years.


Although not overtly religious the book’s tone assumes a belief in the afterlife, or at least open-mindedness to the concept. As this is the underlying premise of the book, a non-believer might have difficulty relating to it. However, even for those there are many very useful and usable pieces of advice:

Make friends with those of younger generations
We need to live in a community setting, perhaps with three generations
Nothing is more essential in life than giving and serving
By allowing others the chance to care for us, we can actually give to the givers
The best way to face death is to really live
Do not miss opportunities to show love to others
Give thanks each day for some small thing of beauty
Anything that leads to community adds richness to our lives

‘Saying Goodbye’ in a peaceful and loving way, rejecting invasive and painful medical treatment at the end is what hospices bring to the patient, family and friends. In my 12 years working at a local hospice this concept of the quality of life in the process of dying is the way forward. We used to say that hospices could not add days to life; rather, life to days. This book would help many folk in dealing with an area of life which we all will face.

Sounds like a good book

I am 47 and received this book free in church. Honestly I didn't think I would read it. I started reading it and couldn't stop. It inspired me to be a more useful person, to serve others more and worry less. It brought me a sense of peace. It makes me want to find my purpose. Thank you and God bless you and Verena.

I have just read your book, Rich in Years, and I am moved by it—encouraged by it—challenged to forgive fully—and mostly, moved to accept the will of God for my life. Although the scripture references were mostly familiar, reading them again in this context challenges me to do! Forgiveness and acceptance are continuing lessons for me...Now, what I feel called to do is do what the gospel calls me for—love and service to others as an illustration for unbelievers of the love of God. I cannot understand good Bible thumping Christians—folks whose faith ends at the church door.

This book is a valuable resource because it presents a balanced opinion for our present day society to consider. Unfortunately, ours is a society that accepts youth as an end in and of itself. Arnold, on the other hand, quickly dismisses this myth with heroic stories about ordinary people finding peace and purpose in living a long life. There is much that can be found throughout this extraordinary book to make people of every religious conviction nod their heads in mutual agreement.

What a privilege and pleasure it was to receive this book as a gift from dear friends, especially since I have just reached my eightieth birthday! As a deeply committed Christian, every page resonates with me, but there is so much in the simulating stories which must surely elicit a positive response in non-believers too. I am so pleased to see my compatriot, Welshman Dylan Thomas, quoted on page 10, and can say a fervent "Amen" to his famous words: "Old age should burn and rage at close of day: Rage, rage against the dying of the light".

Your gift of Rich in Years came at a most opportune time…God’s perfect timing. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and it touched my heart. I am at an age and in a situation in life that the stories were particularly uplifting. They were also a reminder to me that God has a plan for our lives from beginning to end. My husband has been ill with M.S. for quite some time and I am his caretaker. The Lord is seeing us through as we keep our eyes on Him each day knowing that He will take care of all our tomorrows. I thank you for thinking of me and sending Rich in Years. And yes, it truly is a message of hope.

In “As you like it” Shakespeare described the later years as, “unregarded age in corners thrown.” RICH IN YEARS challenges this sad description. It tells older people and their friends, that “no Spring, nor Summer beauty hath such grace,” and that we are all “God’s work of art” (Ephes 2.9). Works of art grow more beautiful with age.

My friend, Margaret Nelson, sent me a copy of Rich in Years. Thank you for the book, Margaret; it is a gift in and of itself. My husband is now 75 and I am 68. We are both retired and becoming more and more aware every day of the blessing of each day, especially with that first conscious breath when awakening in the morning. We are experiencing this time in our lives as our golden years. The wisdom I found in Rich in Years promises to be a big help as challenges come. The examples that Mr. Arnold shares are witnesses of light to the mind and spirit. Raised in the Catholic tradition and nurtured by writers like Thomas Merton and Dorothy Day, I find that the wisdom of Mr. Arnold resonates with my faith and nurturs my it yet more. As more and more of the people who are a part of my life cross over into eternity, I find myself wanting to join them. Rich in Years gives me a glimpse of what life here still offers in growth and community. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and the witness of the good people whose lives you hold up in Rich in Years.

This book led me to a deeper thought process on the subject of aging. For a few years now, I have been dealing with most of the emotions spoken of in this book. God, I'm very pleased to say has given me a new look at my increasing infirmity. Psalm 71:18 has become my new life verse. May I be incredibly fruitful for His kingdom in these last years. It is a joyous hope.

In Rich in Years, Johann Christoph Arnold examines eleven experiences one commonly encounters in later life. Supplementing his own insights with those of others who “have been there and done that,” he quotes some people the reader will recognize and others are who are among his acquaintances…Arnold describes the gift of advancing years not as a time to dread, but as a time to dig deeper into the gathered knowledge and experiences and accept the challenge to share it with oncoming generations. Thoughtful readers will find in this well written book a treasury of wisdom.

A friend of mine recently lent me a copy of Rich in Years by Johann Christoph Arnold, and I would like to comment on it. Although the subject matter is emotionally-charged and difficult to face, Arnold's book is highly readable and his ideas are presented clearly, compassionately, and succinctly. The wisdom imparted is very practical, inspirational and suitable for any belief system. As a senior, I truly appreciate learning more ways to help ease the uncertainties of end-of-life decisions. As a result, I have given out copies to three friends, one of whom requested a dozen more copies to distribute at his church's counseling group. Thank you for making this kind of information available . . . in many cases it would surely help ease a lot of unnecessary suffering.

After working five years in hospice, this book encompasses every thing that I would wish for individuals facing end-of-life experiences. Particularly the importance of sharing our final days or months with friends, family, or those around us as captured in the story of Richard Scott. Arnold's words provide us with the way that we can walk from this life into our everlasting home.

Hello I'm a member of Assembly of God and you were visitors at my church Sunday and I enjoyed talking to some of the people and I picked up a copy of richen years I just want to tell you I started reading the book and could not put it down. My husband passed away almost 3 years ago and I'm still having a hard time I have moved on but it's still hard I was married 50 years, but anyway I just wanted tell you I love your book and I'm going to pass it onto someone so they can enjoy it also it means so much to me thank you thank you so much.Joyce

I've been moved, strengthened and challenged by the message of the book. Working in a large hospital it's inevitable that we are involved and even feel complicit in the 'warehousing' of the elderly. The simplicity and acceptance that lie at the root of "Rich in Years" offer hope and liberation. To read of so many examples from peoples' everyday lives and relationships was profoundly moving. As someone who has elderly parents and is about to become a Dad for the first time, it helped me to focus on the landscape of life's particular moments and it'll be a book I come back to. It's beautifully produced as well!

I am in the mist of reading “Rich in Years.” The words of Johann resonate deeply with me as I near my seventy-fifth birthday. (My husband says age is but a number!) As I write the words of the poem “For the Fallen”, come to mind. The rite of passage, as I am wont to call the end of our earthly pilgrimage, is the beginning of that which we do not totally comprehend. Please convey my personal thanks to Johann for allowing me, (through your generosity), to share the joy he finds in advancing years.

I have been a professed religious for over seventy years, have read many spiritual books by renowned theologians, Recently a member of our group of devout women gave some of us copies of Rich in Years by JC Arnold. I have found this beautiful, practical outlook on the aging process to be a special source of inspirations and prayer. The special anecdotes are great but I have found that some single sentences can hold my meditation mode for a long period of time. No one likes to grow old but the beauty of the process is so well explained by Arnold that only joy can be experienced through his words. Sometimes the simplest thought brings strength and courage. I have just turned ninety, and would recommend this easy to read book to everyone concerned about the golden years. Blessings and prayers Sister Henrice Eckert SSND

I am on the last chapter of "Rich in Years" Think that everybody in the world should read the book. I would like to give as many as i can to friends and people at my "older people group" blessings.

I loved reading this book rich in years . I only got yesterday at walden fair.NY. I AM almost done reading it.

Rich in Years by Johann Arnold. What a wonderful guide to being old.

Johann Christoph Arnold’s books are fresh and simple and, even if they lack the full richness of the Catholic spiritual tradition, they are wise. His latest is on aging gracefully — not a bad topic for many of us.

Arnold does us all a great service by encouraging us to see aging as a part of the normal progress of life. Its challenges are to be faced with hope and in community rather than alone and in despair. This book is full of wisdom, encouragement, sadness and joy.

An inspirational read for grandparents and indeed people of all ages. It deals sensitively with so many issues relating to aging and infirmity that people do not like to talk about, but really should. I found Rich in Years beautiful, helpful, and full of love.

Arnold is a trusted fellow traveler and guide. His book encouraged me to reflect on my own journey, and I am excited about my future. I hope that it will have the same impact on you.

He lied to his mom. A few hours later, the car carrying him and his drunken friends hit a tree. Six comatose days later, my friend and classmate Zach was dead. He was seventeen. Death, it seems, is not just a concern for the aged. Dying and the fear of death occupy more of our thoughts than we’d like to admit. Zach’s death left me searching: How can I live ready to die? My grandfather gave me this advice at the time: “True freedom is found in commitment.” I did not believe him. How could a commitment to a cause, movement, or belief bring a person freedom? Such promises limit one’s freedom, I was sure. And what did freedom have to do with living ready to die? The first question was answered two years ago. Through God’s grace and the help of a pastor and friends, I saw the importance of a decision to follow Jesus. I confessed my sins and was baptized. Despite failings since, I can always return to the true freedom I found then. The second question persisted, until I read Johann Christoph Arnold’s latest title, Rich In Years, which addresses the challenges of growing old and facing death. It is written with the elderly in mind, but answers universal questions. Finding freedom from sin, selfishness, and sadness is part of preparing to depart this world and face the next. Rich In Years answered my questions raised by Zach’s death. It can answer yours.

I have just finished "Rich in Years" and was so inspired by it,that I decided to give feedback for the first time.I have just retired after many happy years as a high school teacher of special needs kids,here in Edinburgh. Because I have become increasingly limited in my stamina and walking due to multiple sclerosis,I was not sure what God wanted me to do,other than help with my grandchildren,and be with my husband with whom I just celebrated forty-one years of marriage,yesterday. I recently finished a book by Gary Barkelow,called "Its your Call: what are you doing here?",which showed that God has a particular purpose for each one of us, in which we can reflect his glory in us and to that end,I was looking for a definite purpose,to be useful to God and others,despite being more shut-in than before. This book helped me see that love for God and our neighbour is the only Real purpose at any stage of life that has no ending and from which there is no retirement and no loss of usefulness.

My parents are not that old yet, approaching 70, but they are faced with several health issues and loss of faculties. I'm living at home with them, and this book really spoke to me of my need to make these years as valuable and purposeful as I can for my handicapped Mother especially. The reminder that service and love and prayer can be rendered in so many ways and at all stages of life was reaffirming and inspiring for me. I read this book in one sitting and was touched by the stories of so many people I had known but not heard from in many years. Thank you for making it available to us.

Rich in Years is indeed a rich book. Underlying these beautiful stories lie a number of themes that in my view are particularly important and of great value to a wide secular readership. It presents community at its best, an experience of connectedness and belonging that is tragically lacking and replaced by isolation, fragmentation and disjointedness in the world at large. A long life is a “treasure house” not to be discarded or banished to some institution. Rich in Years encourages us to keep moving, looking to eternity. It raises questions: Have I completed my — or better, God’s — tasks? Have I surrendered to God’s plan? How can God use me for his purpose? Dementia is addressed with patience and love in a family or true community setting. The importance of open and honest communication, the traps of over-emphasised patient autonomy, the value of a living will and an individual’s or family’s choices, the over-medicalisation of the dying process, and the need for dignity are all dealt with very sensitively. In conclusion, Rich in Years is a book about true life, love, values and faith in each other and the person of Jesus as a companion. It is my prayer and hope that it will speak to a world that exhibits huge spiritual hunger, in which many are searching for guidance and meaning beyond the frantic noisy business of their every day and is not met in general by “organised religion.”

Thank you for RICH IN YEARS! I found it superb in values and very strong in common sense. This thinking is a must for a society drowning in individualism and lack of concern for the dignity of the human person.

Just finished Rich in Years and am so happy that my friend Joy sent me a copy. I have lost my faith and am struggling to regain it. I go to church, sometimes, pray (to whom?) sometimes, volunteer at an area Catholic Worker. I'm trying. Recently, I went on a retreat to Gethsemane in KY and it was a powerful time. Reading Merton again. And now this book written by Johann Arnold seems to be speaking directly to me. Usually I give books away after reading them. This one I cannot; I need to keep it by my table and re-read often. I am getting older and life has become so much more precious to me than ever it was; each day beautiful. But I long for a faith and I will add this book to my "resources." Mr Arnold speaks with such simplicity, conviction, power - I need this. Thank you so much for this book.

How can I thank you for the wonderful gift of Johann Arnold's book? I have read many Christian devotionals and instructional literature over the years since becoming a believer in Jesus Christ myself, but have never been more touched and inspired than by Rich in Years. Arnold is gifted and I am planning to check out his other writings. In gratitude, I have made a donation earmarked for distribution of the book, since it was the best way for me to use my Family Charitable Trust and express my gratitude. Everyone needs to read this by the time they reach at least 70, and we octogenarians even more so. Would that all of my Amherst Class of 1950 had access to it. Much obliged and very grateful, Ray

This book was fabulous as is all of Johann Christoph Arnold's books. But this one I could not put down until it was finished. I cried most of the way through it. Everyone should read and pay attention to every word in this book. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

I received my copy of Rich In Years last night at Woodcrest Bruderhof's celebration of Grandparents, and couldn't wait to read it. I couldn't put it down once I started. I just finished reading it and as always, found Christoph"s writing to be very inspirational. I will be 68 tomorrow and often contemplate life. I am still active enough to maintain the caring of my granddaughter Saira who has been paralyzed and on life support since 1991. She has lived with me since 1995. My purpose in life is quite clear to me. She is a healthy and happy college student with much to offer this life. Over the years Christoph has helped me keep things in perspective. Thank you Christoph for another wonderfully inspiring book!

“Wait, I have something I want to show you.” My mother rushed out of the animated gathering in her living room…and never returned. A lot has happened in the ten years since my mother’s sudden death. One unavoidable fact is that each of us is getting older. I prefer the phrase “growing richer in years” because that sounds positive and abundant: the older you get, the richer you are! Looking at it that way, my mother’s wealth was almost 85 years. But those are merely earth-years. What of the currency that endures, the investments in eternity from our wealth of years? I have often reflected on what it was that my mother ultimately wanted to show us. The book Rich in Years has helped me answer that question.

Each chapter of Rich in Years thrills me because it pertains not only to senior citizens, but to me, to you, to each of us who from childhood on is gradually becoming richer in years. “Accepting Changes,” “Combatting Loneliness,” and “Finding Purpose” are chapter headings that touch issues close to each of us. I am amazed how the themes addressed in Rich in Years are not only contemporary, but surely also gave pause to our grandparents’ grandparents since the dawn of history. Arnold illustrates his insights with many personal stories from men and women he has known during his decades as a pastor, counselor, father and grandfather. With each chapter the reader meets new acquaintances, and yet each encounter has a sense of déjà vu familiarity because for each we could substitute a similar story from our own experiences.

I found Rich in Years to be rich in more than years. It is rich in its descriptions of the challenges of old age: separation, isolation, suffering, pain and fear of dying. It is also, and most especially, rich in hope. The beautiful descriptions of a variety of faithful souls who have faced, with faith and joy, the various challenges of old age are most uplifting and encouraging. I found myself reminiscing on the lives of my grandparents and parents as well as on the lives of so many men and women of faith whom I have personally known who lived the lessons found in Rich in Years. This book is a most joyful expression of the lived reality of our hope in the resurrection and eternal life.

Thank you so much for sending me a copy of "Rich in Years." It may have seemed that, because some time has passed since you sent it, that I had received it and simply put it aside. Quite the contrary! I used it as a daily meditation...savoring each chapter day by day, gaining from the Scripture references, and relating each story to my life and beliefs.

What a beautiful, beautiful book! It brings with it the message that pain and sickness are but a part of life, and that life itself is an expression of His Love--a gift to be opened and experienced. I was drawn in to each story, each vignette, by the real life situations and the real problems that many of us face, all from the point of view of those caring for loved ones, or from those experiencing the pain.

But what touched me the most was the message that we can give thanks for all of what has been given to us in the past, of what we are facing in the present, and what awaits us in the future.

Marilynn Garzione, author of Released to the Angels: Discovering the Hidden Gifts of Alzheimer's