Wednesday, September 1, 2021

World Day of Grandparents and Elders

 In  the Catholic Times'  Eyes of the Believer column a pastor writes about the new 'World Day of Grandparents and Elders'. The Pope established the day on the fourth Sunday of July because of the neglect and isolation of so many of the elderly especially during the Corona 19  health crises and the important role the elderly have in society.

Many of the elderly are  dying alone and these days  not even having funerals because of the virus. The elderly easily understand  the pope's solicitation for their well being.  Instead of focusing only on the suffering physical and mental loss he emphasized the three gifts  only the elderly can give to the younger generation: dreams, memories, and prayers. 

In other words, it means 'the wise dreams of the elderly', 'memories from abundant years' and 'the prayers of the elderly with all their heart'. These gifts would become a foundation and a new future for the younger generation, who could easily be shaken or fall into difficulties. The Pope's discourse suggests that the elderly should be companions of young people and preachers of the faith.

The Pope's statement makes us realize that the elderly, members of the ecclesial community, are approached with a natural, everyday, practical perspective. It's not elderly that is stressed, but their role as grandparents to pass on the tradition of faith to the grandchildren through dreams, memories and  prayers.
A corresponding model is Timothy, the spiritual son of the Apostle Paul. He received their faith from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice from an early age (2 Timothy 1:5).  He was martyred as a bishop of the Church of Ephesus while inheriting the legacy of faith from the apostle Paul. The reason that Bishop Timothy was able to become an exemplary believer was his grandmother and mother, a Catholic family, and a teacher named Apostle Paul. In particular, it can be seen that grandparents, such as grandmothers, have a very large influence on their grandchildren and granddaughters to grow and grow as believers regardless of age.

There's a joke these days that shows just how big a role grandparents play in the education of their  grandchildren. It is said that there must be three 'visions'  to educate a child: 'grandfather's wealth', 'mom's intelligence', and 'father's indifference'. The wealth of the grandfather determines the education of the grandchildren. But today, one more has been added. That is the maternal  'grandmother's physical strength'. 
Interest and expectations are  mobilized on both sides of the family for their children's education and social success. The birth of a child is a blessing in itself in a country gradually decreasing in population due to abandonment of marriage and low fertility, so interest and expectations for children are inevitably high.
What about religious education for the child? While enthusiasm for education for the college entrance is high, religious education is rarely conducted even in the most devout of  families. Of course, it is important to enter a good university or a good company and achieve social success, but living as a true human is even more important. Human perfection requires not only intellect and humanity, but also an abundance of spirituality.
Grandparents should reflect on the Pope's discourse to see if they are passing on the legacy of faith to their grandchildren. To newborns, children, adolescents, grandparents should set an example of faith in the home. It is also important to create an atmosphere in the house according to the liturgical calendar, celebrating the liturgical feasts at home. When we have  prayer at home,before and after meals, the  reading of the Bible, children and adolescents naturally watch learn and follow. 
In particular, grandparents' love for the  grandchildren who replace working parents these days will never end. And  with the increase of age this becomes  more difficult with the ailments that come. In this environment there is no doubt that grandchildren will grow into precious children of God if faith is inherited through the dreams, memories, and prayers of grandparents. "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52).

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