Pope to grandparents: take the war-wounded world on your lap
Francis' message for the World Day for Grandparents and Elders to be celebrated on July 24. No "coincidence that war is returning to Europe at a time when the generation that experienced it in the last century is dying out." To parishes: "Visiting the elderly alone is a work of mercy in our time."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Grandparents are called to be "artisans of the revolution of tenderness, so that together we can set the world free from the spectre of loneliness and the demon of war," writes Pope Francis in the message addressed to them for the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly that the Church celebrates this year on July 24, the Sunday closest to the liturgical feast of Saints Anne and Joachim, the grandparents of Jesus.
Entitled "In old age they will still bear fruit," the message returns to the theme very dear to Francis of old age as a time to be freed from fear and the "culture of waste" to rediscover it on the contrary as a "blessing" and propitious time "even from the spiritual point of view." This is an idea that the pontiff has been declining extensively in recent weeks in his Wednesday general audiences, but in the message released today he specifically relates it also to the tragic experience of war that the world is experiencing today.
The pope writes, "Our world is passing through a time of trial and testing, beginning with the sudden, violent outbreak of the pandemic, and then by a war that is harming peace and development on a global scale. Nor is it a coincidence that war is returning to Europe at a time when the generation that experienced it in the last century is dying out. These great crises risk anaesthetizing us to the reality of other “epidemics” and other widespread forms of violence that menace the human family and our common home."
The pontiff continues, "We grandparents and elderly people have a great responsibility: to teach the women and men of our time to regard others with the same understanding and loving gaze with which we regard our own grandchildren. We ourselves have grown in humanity by caring for others, and now we can be teachers of a way of life that is peaceful and attentive to those in greatest need.This attitude may be mistaken for weakness or resignation, yet it will be the meek, not the aggressive and the abusive, who will inherit the earth."
Pope Francis cites the human experience of the child on the lap of his own grandparents. "now is the time for us to carry on our own knees – with practical assistance or with prayer alone – not only our own grandchildren but also the many frightened grandchildren whom we have not yet met and who may be fleeing from war or suffering its effects. Let us hold in our hearts – like Saint Joseph, who was a loving and attentive father – the little ones of Ukraine, of Afghanistan, of South Sudan…...". But the awareness that in the world we are not saved alone also has another face in the lives of the elderly. "Our very letting ourselves be cared for often by people who come from other countries," Francis recalls, "is a way of saying that living together is not only possible, but necessary.
Here then is the invitation to all grandparents to be "artisans of the revolution of tenderness." First of all - comments the pope - with "the most precious tool we have, and which is the most appropriate for our age: that of prayer. Let us also become a little poets of prayer: let us take pleasure in seeking our own words, let us re-appropriate those that the Word of God teaches us. Our confident invocation can do a lot: it can accompany the cry of pain of those who suffer and can contribute to changing hearts".
The message closes with an invitation to all parish communities this World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly remembering also those who are more alone at home or in residences: "Let us make sure that no one feels alone on this day. Expecting a visit can transform those days when we think we have nothing to look forward to; from an initial encounter, a new friendship can emerge. Visiting the elderly who live alone is a work of mercy in our time!."