Text: Message of the Pope on the Day of Grandparents and Seniors

The Vatican published Pope Francis’ message for the second World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly this Tuesday. This year the date falls on July 24th. Vatican Radio / Vatican News documents them here in German, verbatim according to the official translation.

All sermons and addresses of Pope Francis can be found in the official translation on the Vatican website.

Pope Francis’ message on the Second World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly – “They bear fruit even in old age” (Psalm 92:15)

Dear!

The verse from Psalm 92, “They still bear fruit in their old age” (verse 15) is good news, a true “Gospel” that we are proclaiming to the world on the occasion of the Second World Day of Grandparents and Elders. It goes against what the world thinks about this age and also against the resigned position of some old people who live with little hope and no longer expect anything in the future.

Many people are afraid of aging. They see it as a kind of disease with which it is better to avoid any contact: the elderly are not our business – as they think – and it is appropriate to live as far away as possible, perhaps together in structures built around which they care for them and save us from their burdens. This is the “culture of exclusion”: that mindset that makes one feel different from the most vulnerable and unaffected by their fragility, and allows us to think of separate paths between “us” and “them.” But in fact, as the Bible teaches, a long life is a blessing, and the elderly are not shunned to be kept away from, but rather living signs of God’s abundance in life. Blessed is the house that takes care of the elderly! Blessed is the family that honors their ancestors!

Aging is actually a stage of life that is difficult to comprehend, even for those of us who are already living it. Although it comes after a long way, no one prepared us for it, it seems to surprise us. Most advanced societies spend a lot of money on this day, but it doesn’t help us explain it: they offer care plans, but not life projects.[1]. This makes it difficult to look to the future and determine the horizon in which we live. On the one hand, we tend to banish aging by hiding our wrinkles and pretending we’re young. On the other hand, we seem to have no choice but to live with disappointment and come to terms with the fact that we have no “fruits” to bring.

With the end of working life and the self-sufficiency of children, who are now independent, the reasons for which we put so much energy disappear. Realizing the failure of our power or the emergence of disease can shake our certainty. The fast-moving world that we find hard to keep up with seems to leave us with no alternative and lead us to internalize the idea of ​​our uselessness. Thus the psalm prayer rises to heaven: “Do not forsake me when I am old, and do not forsake me when I am weak” (71:9).

But the same psalm that traces the presence of the Lord in the different seasons of life invites us to continue to hope: when old age and gray hairs come, He will still give us life and will not let evil overwhelm us. Trusting in Him we will find the strength to increase our praise (see verses 14-20) and we will discover that old age is not only the natural deterioration of the body or the inevitable passage of time, but the gift of a long life. Aging is not a punishment, it is a blessing!

We must therefore take care of ourselves and also learn to live an active spiritual life, nourishing our inner life through enthusiastic reading of the Word of God, daily prayer, knowledge of the sacraments, and participation in the liturgy. And besides our relationship with God, we develop our relationships with others: especially in the family, with children and grandchildren, to whom we give affection and care, and with the poor and suffering, to whom we give tangible help and prayer. to be soon. All this will help us not feel like a mere spectator in the theater of the world, not looking forward to “I watch from the balcony Restrict standing by the window. If we instead sharpen our senses to recognize the presence of the Lord[2]A fan is like “an olive tree in the house of God” (cf. note 52:10) And it can be a blessing to those who live next to us.

Aging is not a pointless time to roll out the towel and retire, but it is a time that we can still pay off: a new task awaits us that invites us to look to the future. The special sensitivity that we, the elderly, have to the attention, thoughts, and love that make us human should again become an invitation to many. It will be the choice of the old to love toward the new generations.”[3]. This is our contribution to The revolution of tenderness[4]an unarmed spiritual revolution to which I invite you, dear grandparents and old people, to be its heroes.

The world is going through a period of great tests, first due to the unexpected violent storm of a pandemic and then a war undermining peace and development on a global scale. It is no coincidence that war is returning to Europe at a time when the generation that lived through it in the last century is dying. These major crises risk forgetting the existence of other “epidemics” and widespread forms of violence that threaten the human family and our common home.

Before all this, we need a profound change, a conversion that disarms hearts and makes us see a brother in our neighbour. We grandparents and old people bear a great responsibility: we must teach the women and men of our time to look upon our neighbors with the same understanding and tenderness as we do toward our grandchildren. We grew up in humanity by caring for others, and today we can be teachers of a peaceful way of life that considers the most vulnerable. Our attitude may be mistaken for weakness or tenderness, but the meek, not the aggressive and exploitative, will inherit the earth (cf. Mountain 5.5).

One of the fruits we are called to bear is the preservation of the world. “We all sat on the knees of our ancestors who carried us in their hands.”[5]; But today it is time to get on our knees – with tangible help or even just prayer – along with our many terrified grandchildren, who do not yet know who might flee or suffer war. Let us take the little ones in Ukraine, in Afghanistan, in South Sudan … to our hearts, as did Saint Joseph as a loving and caring father.

Many of us have learned a wise and simple lesson the world desperately needs: that we cannot save ourselves, and that happiness is like the bread we eat together. Let us bear witness to this for those who find personal fulfillment and confrontational success. Even the weakest people can live this: even the fact that we allow ourselves to be taken care of – often by people from other countries – is a sign that living together is not only possible, but necessary.

Dear grandmothers and grandfathers, dear old women and dear men, in this world in which we live we are called to The revolution of tenderness to design! Let us do so by making repeated and better use of our most precious resource and most relevant to our times: prayer. “Let us also become little poets of prayer: if we find taste in seeking our own words, let us make those which God’s word teaches us as our own.”[6]. Our confident prayers can do so much: they can accompany the cry of pain for those who are in pain and help change hearts. We can use » hard[n] Choir is a great spiritual haven [sein]Where intercession and praise support the community that works and struggles in the field of life »[7].

Therefore, the International Day of Grandparents and the Elderly is an opportunity to say once again with joy that the Church wants to celebrate with those for whom the Lord – as the Bible says – “enjoys life.” Let’s celebrate together! I invite you to make this day known to your parishioners and communities and to visit the elderly, who are more lonely, at home or in the homes in which they live. No one should spend this day in solitude. Having someone waiting for him can change the direction of the days of those who no longer expect anything good from the future; A new friendship can arise from the first meeting. Visiting lonely elderly people is an act of mercy in our time!

Let us ask Our Lady, Mother of tenderness, to be our collaborators in The revolution of tenderness So that together we can rid the world of the gloom of loneliness and the demon of war.

May my blessings and affirmation of my loving closeness reach you all and your loved ones. Please don’t forget to pray for me!

Rome, Saint John Lateran, May 3, 2022, Feast of Saints Philip and Jacob

Francis

[1] Catechism on Old Age – 1. The Grace of Time and the Covenant of the Ages (23 February 2022).

[2] Old age education – 5. Devotion to God’s presence for future generations (March 30, 2022).

[3] Catechism in Old Age – 3. Old age, a source of carefree youth (March 16, 2022).

[4] The Teaching of Saint Joseph – 8. Saint Joseph, the Compassionate Father (January 19, 2022).

[5] Sermon at Mass for the First International Day of Grandparents and the Elderly (25 July 2021).

[6] Christian education in the family 7. Grandparents (March 11, 2015).

[7] Ivy.

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