I wish I could remember who told me this, years ago, but I have never forgotten it: “The closest we will ever come in this life to seeing the face of God is seeing the face of our grandparents.”
And yes, I came across this statement long before I myself became a grandparent!
Grandparents can play a significant role in the lives of children. In recognition of this very important place that grandparents have in our lives, Pope Francis has declared July 25, 2021, as the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. This celebration will take place every year on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
In announcing this special day, Pope Francis said, “Not only are grandchildren and young people called upon to be present in the lives of older people, but older people and grandparents also have a mission of evangelization, proclamation and prayer, and of encouraging young people in their faith.”
This is a wonderful opportunity for parishes to draw attention to, celebrate, and honor our grandparents and the elderly. Be sure to check out the amazing resource from Loyola Press, Sharing the Wisdom of Time, and all of its related resources for helping younger generations find inspiration and guidance within elders’ stories.
Another outstanding resource is Barbara Lee’s new book, Answering God’s Call: A Scripture-Based Journey for Older Adults, which uses the stories of biblical saints to remind older adults that God’s call for us doesn’t end when we retire.
In the words of Pope Francis, “May every grandfather, every grandmother, every older person, especially those among us who are most alone, receive the visit of an angel” to console their loneliness and to remind them of Jesus’ message: “I am with you always.”
May we be those angels!