Grandparents & the Elderly
2nd World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly | Sunday July 24, 2022
“In old age they will still bear fruit” – Psalm 92:15
Pope Francis has chosen this theme to awaken our collective sense of gratitude and respect for the elderly and to seek new ways of making the elderly a living part of our community.
Not only are young people called upon to show their respect for the lives of older people, but the elderly also have a mission – to pass on their faith.
Each of us, whether single or married, religious or priest, share in this mission. Let’s reflect on some particular ways in which it is lived out by grandparents and the elderly.
… through Time
Generally, the elderly have more time than in their younger years, time that can be spent fruitfully … helping children to read, in play, and to pick them up from school. They have more time to plan special outings or make an extra fuss about birthdays, or special events.
… through Presence
Just ‘being around’. We could call it ‘silent love’ (but it’s often anything but silent!). There’s nothing a child appreciates more than the reassuring presence of someone familiar who loves them. Even when separated by distance, ‘tech-savvy’ grandparents can be a presence in their lives.
… through Memories
Most elderly people carry memories of five generations – their own, that of their parents and grandparents and the two generations following them. Their vast reservoir of stories from a bygone era are beyond the imagination of many young people – not just before the internet but before TV! But more important are the stories of their family, and especially of the childrens’ own parents when they were young.
… through Tenderness
The Pope calls the elderly to be ‘Artisans of a Revolution of Tenderness’ – to foster a compassionate recognition of others as our brothers and sisters. He calls them to see others with the same love and caring that they have for their own grandchildren.
It is counter to the universal presence of anger and division which even spills over into war. “Dear grandparents, dear elderly, let us do this by … frequent and better use of our most valuable instrument, the one best suited to our age: PRAYER.” We can always pray!
… through Blessing
Along with old age and white hair, God continues to give the elderly the gift of life. Trusting in him, we find the strength to praise him still and to see that growing old is more than the decline of the body, but the gift of a long life. “Aging is not a condemnation, but a blessing!”, says Pope Francis. And he should know!
So important, so basic and so needed today. There is so much the elderly can do to pass on the Faith.
- Pray. Pray with confidence for each grandchild daily by name.
- Tell them you pray for them – especially that they come to know Jesus.
- Preach without words – be the person you want your grandchildren to be, trustworthy, respectful, generous – not negative, critical and judgemental.
- Spread joy – talk about the good that others do, eg care for the poor, respect of others.
As Pope Francis says, “Old age is not the time to give up and lower the sails”. We are called to be:
- a sign of our love for the younger generations”.
- as active as possible in later years.
- engaged in ongoing spiritual growth – regular scripture, prayer, sacraments
- working on our relationships – affectionate concern for our families
- specially concerned for the poor – prayer always, practical help if possible
Saints Joachim & Anne
Grandparents of Jesus | Feast Day 26th July
According to Church tradition they were a deeply faithful Jewish couple from the line of King David. Strong devotion to them dates back to early Christianity. While we know very little about Sts Joachim and Anne we can assume that Mary was raised in a faith-filled Jewish home, which led her to respond wholeheartedly to God’s request with faith, “Let it be done to me as you will”.
In Australia, a first class relic of St Anne is held at her shrine in the Parish of St Anne in Bondi where pilgrims are always welcome.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us. Pray for our grandchildren who are so dear to us.
New times call for new ways. There is an opportunity to develop the art of grandparenting at a local parish level. Consider the invitation to be part of…
- Pope’s Message for the second world day for grandparents and elderly https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/nonni/documents/20220503-messaggio-nonni-anziani.html
- Additional Resources: https://www.catholicgrandparentsassociation.org/worlddayforgrandparentsandtheelderly/