On Sunday, 24 July 2022, we celebrate the second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. It was inaugurated by Pope Francis as an annual celebration in 2021, and every year it is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in July, which is also coincidentally the Feast of Saints Anne and Joachim (July 26). The Universal Church recognises both St Anne and St Joachim as Patron Saints of grandparents. This year, the Holy Father has chosen the theme: “In old age, they will still bear fruits,” (Psalms 92:15).
Pope Francis “intends to emphasise how grandparents and the elderly are a value and gifts both for society and for ecclesial communities.” There is so much we could learn from them of their rich life experiences, faith and wisdom which could transform societies and communities. They are not a “throw-away culture” or “outcasts to be shunned” but they are “different from the poor and vulnerable.”
The Bible teaches us that “a long life is a blessing” and “living signs of the goodness of God.” The Pope added that “Blessed is the house where an older person lives! Blessed is the family that honours the elderly!” Growing old is more than the natural decay of the body, but is a gift of long life and it is “not a condemnation but a blessing!”
Grandparents and the elderly must cultivate their relationships in their families and show loving concern for children and grandchildren by drawing near to them. This will then “become a blessing for those who live next to us.” Grandparents and the elderly should be “teachers of a way of life” to the younger generation, for them to become more loving and caring to others who are in greater need. The elderly and grandparents also have a role to play in building a better society and community through their “mission of evangelisation, proclamation and prayer, and of encouraging young people in their faith.”
On this day for grandparents and the elderly, the Holy Father grants a Plenary Indulgence for those who devote their time visiting them - either physically or virtually - in order to make the day more meaningful and memorable. The Plenary Indulgence may also be granted when they make efforts for the Sacrament of Confession and for the Holy Eucharist. Let us prioritise our care for grandparents and the elderly and reach out to them so that they do not feel lonely or isolated, especially those who are unable to leave their homes.
Grandchildren can craft or create drawings, greeting cards, and prayer cards to share with their grandparents and older relatives as a token of appreciation and gratitude. We can all do our part by spending some quality time with them, or by reaching out to elderly neighbours, parish members and elderly relatives by sharing a meal together.
If possible, take them to Mass to receive blessings, anointings or confession this weekend. Offer a special intention for them during Mass and pray a decade of the Rosary for them. Remember elderly family members and friends whom we have lost, and if time permits, visit their graves or columbarium to pay our respects and pray for the repose of their souls.
An Extract From The Message Of The Holy Father For World Day Of Grandparents And The Elderly 2022