Did you ever imagine Jesus being spoiled by his grandparents growing up? Well in the long history of Christianity people have thought a lot about Jesus childhood years. And from that we get the feast of Mary’s parents and Jesus’ grandparents, Joachim and Anna on July 26th. Their names come from the Infancy Gospel of James, a late 2nd century work. Which is why Pope Francis has set aside the 4th Sunday of July (the Sunday closest to their feast) as the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. (Us single people appreciate the inclusion.) The theme this year is Jesus’ words from the Gospel of Matthew, “I am with you always.”
In his message Pope Francis speaks about the experience of the pandemic and how especially hard it has been for the elderly “I am well aware that this Message comes to you at a difficult time: the pandemic swept down on us like an unexpected and furious storm; it has been a time of trial for everyone, but especially for us elderly persons. Many of us fell ill, others died or experienced the death of spouses or loved ones, while others found themselves isolated and alone for long periods.” So for the first time the church will celebrate a special day for grandparents and the elderly this weekend. As a part of this celebration, the church will grant a plenary indulgence to those of the elderly who attend mass this weekend, whether in person or virtually, as well as to those who visit or provide assistance to the elderly in need.
This is the prayer for the weekend:
PRAYER FOR THE FIRST WORLD DAY FOR GRANDPARENTS AND THE ELDERLY
I thank You, Lord, for the comfort of Your presence:
even in times of loneliness,
You are my hope and my confidence,
You have been my rock and my fortress since my youth!
I thank You for having given me a family
and for having blessed me with a long life.
I thank You for moments of joy and difficulty,
for the dreams that have already come true in my life and for
those that are still ahead of me.
I thank You for this time of renewed fruitfulness to which You
Increase, O Lord, my faith,
make me a channel of your peace,
teach me to embrace those who suffer more than me,
to never stop dreaming
and to tell of your wonders to new generations.
Protect and guide Pope Francis and the Church,
that the light of the Gospel might reach the ends of the earth.
Send Your Spirit, O Lord, to renew the world,
that the storm of the pandemic might be calmed,
the poor consoled and wars ended.
Sustain me in weakness
and help me to live life to the full
in each moment that You give me,
in the certainty that you are with me every day,
even until the end of the age.