Honouring  Our  Grandparents  and  Elders  –  Sunday  July  25th

grandparents and newborn grandchild

Starting this year, Pope Francis has instituted a Church-wide celebration of a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. He designated the fourth Sunday of July (July 25th this year) for this new commemoration because it is the closest Sunday to July 26th the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of Our Lady and grandparents of Jesus.   (For more on Sts, Anne and Joachim click on http://www.stedwardskettering.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/26th-July-2020.pdf).

Pope Francis has given two main reasons for establishing this new celebration.   One is because of the important role grandparents and the elderly play in society and the other is because of the isolation and neglect which so many of them worldwide have experienced during the pandemic.

With the usual conditions, a plenary indulgence is granted to grandparents, the elderly and all the faithful who take part in liturgical celebrations observing the new day.   The indulgence also applies to those who unite themselves spiritually (perhaps virtually) to these celebrations if they are unable, for sufficient reason, to take part in person.  It is also granted to those who “…devote adequate time to actually or virtually visiting their elderly brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty (such as the sick, the abandoned, the disabled and other similar cases).”   For more information, click on this link:

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-06/plenary-indulgences-apostolic-penitentiary-world-day-grandparent.html

In his message for the first celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, Pope Francis gives us food for thought, comfort, hope and inspiration when, writing to older Catholics like himself, he says: “I was called to become the bishop of Rome when I had reached, so to speak, retirement age, and thought I would not be doing anything new.” (The 84-year-old pope was elected when he was 76). “The Lord is always – always – close to us. He is close to us with new possibilities, new ideas, new consolations, but always close to us. You know that the Lord is eternal; he never, ever goes into retirement.”

He goes on to say: “Think about it: what is our vocation today, at our age? To preserve our roots, to pass on the faith to the young and to care for the little ones.  Never forget this. There is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to your grandchildren. You just need to set out and undertake something new.”

Pope Francis sees grandparents as a “treasure in the family” and, emphasising their vocation, calls them to recognise the importance of their mission in both the Church and society. With great wisdom, he fittingly draws the attention of grandchildren and children to the generous giving of their elders and encourages them to accept it with gratitude.   Encouragement is also given to grandparents and the elderly not to fear accepting new challenges but to embrace opportunities for growth.

He emphasises just how important the relationship between the generations is when he quotes the prophet Joel: “Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men will have visions,” (Joel 3:1) and states that the future of the world is dependent on the covenant between young and old because, “who, if not the young, can take the dreams of the elderly and make them come true?”

For this to become a reality, Pope Francis encourages us that it is necessary that we continue to dream. “Our dreams of justice, of peace, of solidarity, can make it possible for our young people to have new visions; in this way, together, we can build the future.”

Happy Grandparents’ and Elders’ Day to all