Pope Francis tells grandparents, all the elderly, that God is close to them


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An elderly woman reacts as she meets Pope Francis during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on March 22, 2017, file photo. The Pope has chosen the theme “I am always with you” for the first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, which will be celebrated on July 25. (CNS Photo / Paul Haring)

‘You are necessary’

By Cindy Bois
Catholic Information Service

VATICAN CITY – Writing to his peers, Catholics who have reached a venerable age like himself, Pope Francis told older Catholics that God is close to them and still has plans for their lives.

“I was called to become bishop of Rome when I had reached, so to speak, the age of retirement, and I thought that I would not do anything new,” said the Pope, who is now 84 years old. and was elected at 76.

“The Lord is always – always – near to us. He is close to us with new possibilities, new ideas, new consolations, but always close to us. You know the Lord is eternal; he never, never retires, ”the Pope wrote in his message for the Catholic Church’s first celebration of World Grandparents and the Elderly Day.

The message was broadcast to the Vatican on June 22 in anticipation of the July 25 celebration, the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saints. Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ grandparents.

The Vatican has also announced that people who attend a Mass or other celebration of the day, “devote sufficient time to actually or virtually visit their elderly brothers and sisters in need or in difficulty” or join in. prayers for the elderly on July 25 can receive a plenary indulgence as long as they meet the usual requirements to also go to confession, receive the Eucharist and pray for the intentions of the Pope.

Indulgence is also available for “sick elderly people and all those who, unable to leave their homes for a grievous reason, will unite themselves spiritually in the sacred functions of the world day, offering to the merciful God their prayers, pains or sufferings of their lives, ”the Vatican said.

Pope Francis’ message, which was distributed in writing and on video, acknowledged how many older people around the world have suffered and continue to suffer physically, emotionally and spiritually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But he also insisted that the Christian call to share the gospel is as relevant today to everyone as it ever was.

“Think about it: what is our vocation today, at our age? Preserve our roots, transmit the faith to the young and take care of the little ones, ”he wrote. “Never forget that.”

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you work or not, whether you are alone or have a family, whether you became a grandmother or grandfather young or later, whether you are still independent or need help. ‘help. ” he said. “There is no age at which to withdraw from the work of proclaiming the gospel and passing on traditions to your grandchildren. You just have to go out there and do something new.

Pope Francis said he knew many older people might wonder how they could be called to something new when their “energy runs out” or when they cannot even leave the residence where they live. They may even ask, “Isn’t my loneliness already a heavy enough burden?”

“You are needed to help build, in fraternity and social friendship, the world of tomorrow: the world in which we will live, with our children and grandchildren, once the storm has passed”, insisted the Pope.

Dreams, memory, prayer

A better future, he said, must be built on the pillars of “dreaming, remembering and praying,” pillars that “even the weakest of us” can help to erect with help. of God.

While it is true that the energy and enthusiasm of young people are necessary to help set world society on a new path, “our dreams of justice, peace, solidarity can enable our young people to have new visions, ”the Pope wrote. “We have to show that it is possible to come out of a race renewed. I am sure you have had more than one such experience: in your life you have faced many problems and yet you have managed to get out of them. Use these experiences to learn how to get by now. “

While many people, young and old alike, act as if the memories of the elderly are boring, Pope Francis said that “without memory, however, we can never build; without a foundation, we can never build a house. Never. And the foundation of life is memory.

For example, the Pope cited the experience of many elderly people of war or of the need to emigrate.

Sharing “the painful memory of war”, he said, is important “to help young people learn the value of peace”.

“I also think of my own grandparents, and of those of you who had to emigrate and know how difficult it is to leave everything, as so many people continue to do today, in the hope of a future, ”he said. “Some of these people maybe even now by our side, taking care of us. This kind of memory can help build a more human and welcoming world.

Turning to the importance of prayer, Pope Francis quoted “my predecessor, Pope Benedict, himself an elderly and holy person who continues to pray and work for the church” at the age of 94.

“The prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it perhaps more effectively than the frantic activity of many others,” the Pope said, citing his predecessor. “He said these words in 2012, towards the end of his pontificate. There is something beautiful here.

“Your prayer is a very precious resource: a deep breath that the church and the world urgently need,” Pope Francis told the elderly. “Especially in these difficult times for our human family, as we continue to sail in the same boat through the rough seas of the pandemic, your intercession for the world and for the church is of great value: it inspires everyone to serene confidence that we will soon reach land.

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