On Sunday, July 24, the Church celebrates the second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. Established by Pope Francis in January 2021, this day is observed on the fourth Sunday of July to coincide with the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s parents and Jesus’ grandparents, Sts. Joachim and Anne.
The theme this year is “In old age they will still bear fruit” (Psalm 92:15), which emphasizes how grandparents and the elderly are a value and a gift both for society and for the Church.
As Catholics, we believe that all life is sacred – from conception until natural death. We believe that human beings are created by God in His image and reflect His grandeur at all stages of life. In his message for the second World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, Pope Francis makes several important points that I’d like to highlight.
First, Pope Francis reminds us the elderly are to be valued, loved, and respected. Although contemporary society in many cultures fear aging, the Bible tells us that a long life is a blessing; the elderly are living signs of the goodness of God who bestows life in abundance.
Second, Pope Francis tells us “old age is no time to give up and lower the sails, but a season of enduring fruitfulness." We see this in our own parish community where older adults and grandparents are actively involved in many ministries and serving at the Mass. But that is not the only way to contribute. Pope Francis calls on the elderly to be “artisans of the revolution of tenderness” through prayer.
Finally, we all need each other. Pope Francis reminds us that “we are not saved alone, and that happiness is a bread we break together.” Allowing ourselves to be not only caretakers, but cared for, demonstrates that we can and should live together in peace - a lesson that a conflict and war-torn world needs to learn.