On Tuesday 22nd June 2021 Pope Francis released a message for the First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly ahead of the date of the celebration which is scheduled for 25 July. The theme chosen by the Pope for the inaugural commemoration is “I am with you always” (Mt 28: 30). The Holy Father addressed the theme from the Gospel of Matthew to all Grandparents and the elderly, reminding them that this is the promise the Lord made to his disciples before he ascended into heaven.
“The whole Church is close to you – to us – and cares about you, loves you and does not want to leave you alone!” the Pope said, identifying with the elderly, as one of them.
“The Lord is aware of all that we have been through in this time,” the Pope said, “He is close to those who felt isolated and alone, feelings that became more acute during the pandemic.” Illustrating this, he recounted the story of St. Joachim, the grandfather of Jesus, who, according to tradition, was consoled by a messenger of the Lord when he felt estranged from those around him.
Even at the darkest moments, the Lord continues to send angels to console our loneliness and to remind us that He is with us always, the Pope assured. These angels, will at times have the face of our grandchildren, while at other times, “the face of family members, lifelong friends or those we have come to know during these trying times, when we have learned how important hugs and visits are for each of us.”
At the same time, the Lord also “sends us messengers through his words, which are always at hand”
Addressing these words to the elderly, he highlighted that they have the vocation “to preserve our roots, to pass on the faith to the young, and to care for the little ones” irrespective of their age, if they are alone or have a family, if they work or not or if they are grandparents or not. The Pope underlined that there is no retirement age from the work of proclaiming the Gospel and handing down traditions to grandchildren.
Reflecting on collective efforts to put an end to the pandemic, Pope Francis stressed that we will not emerge from the present crises as we were before, but either better and worse. He noted that “no one is saved alone” and we are all indebted to one another because “we are all brothers and sisters.”
You shall ‘dream dreams’
Recalling the words of Prophet Joel, “Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men will have visions” (Joel 3:1), Pope Francis said that the future of the world depends 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 happen, “it is necessary that we continue to dream,” said the Pope. “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.”
Finally, Pope Francis spoke on prayer, recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s words: “the prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it perhaps more effectively than the frenetic activity of many others.”
He reminded the elderly that their prayer is “a very precious resource; a deep breath that the Church and the world urgently need” that “inspires in everyone the serene trust that we will soon come to shore” especially in these times “as we continue to sail in the same boat across the stormy sea of the pandemic.”
Concluding, the Holy Father held up the example of Blessed Charles de Foucauld to the elderly, explaining that the story of his life “shows how it is possible, even in the solitude of one’ s own desert, to intercede for the poor of the whole world and to become, in truth, a universal brother or sister.”
He, therefore, asked the Lord that through his example:
“All of us may open our hearts in sensitivity to the sufferings of the poor and intercede for their needs.”
See With you always | Presentation Sisters Union North East Ireland (presentationsistersne.ie)
Also you can download pdf document Message from Pope Francis for the 1st World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly – July 2021