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Since the feast of St Thomas on 3rd July 2022, we have been praying for Pope Francis’ intention for the elderly - our ageing parents, grandparents, the sick and the dying. We, as family members, have the duty and responsibility to care for these elderly people, especially for those who struggle with loneliness, depression, frailty and isolation due to old age.

Last Sunday (24 July), the Universal Church celebrated the 2nd World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly and this was followed by the feast of two famous saints - Joachim and Anne on Tuesday, 26 July 2022. Although they are the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they are not made known in Scripture. They, however, remind us about the paramount role of grandparents. Like Saints Joachim and Anne, many grandparents and the elderly have put their entire hearts into raising children and grandchildren and leading them to God.

Children should be brought up with positive family values in a safe and loving environment. When our family is grounded with values and faith, then our children will be steadfast and more confident in their growth. Every Christian family should strive to grow in the fear of the Lord, in religious sentiments and in holiness. When worldly values are imbued in the hearts of our children, they may be swayed towards immoral values.

A great example we see in scripture is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is found to be pure, holy, strong and humble. Therefore, God has decided to take flesh in her womb. She was brought up by strong and prayerful parents - St Joachim and St Anne. They both nurtured Mary to become truly blessed among all women (cf. LK 1: 42) and both Mary and her parents live on for all successive generations (cf. Eccl 44: 1) and their good works are not forgotten. St Joachim and St Anne didn’t neglect their duties as parents and they ensured that their child, Blessed Virgin Mary, grew pure in heart.

For the whole month of July, we have been praying, reflecting and carrying out the intention of the Holy Father. We must give spiritual and practical support to grandparents and elderly people whenever needed. May they too continue to provide love, care and support to their younger generation with their prayers, wisdom, holiness and faith. Whenever possible, try to increase contact between grandparents and their grandchildren, in order to develop ongoing closeness and a loving bond. This relationship connects the dots which join one generation to the other.

The Minor Basilica of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam and churches in Port Klang and Alor Gajah will be celebrating the Feast of Sts Joachim and Anne this weekend. We seek their intercession for our grandparents and the elderly, especially those who are sick, abandoned and lonely. May the Lord grant you His blessings forever.

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