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I never knew my Grandparents. Perhaps that is what heightens my interest whenever Pope Francis speaks about Grandparents and the elderly.

This year he addressed the First World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly (July 26, 2020). He focused on “I am with you always!”

His Words of Comfort

  • Even at the darkest moments, as in these months of pandemic, the Lord continues to send angels to console our loneliness and to remind us: “I am with you always”.
  • At times those angels will have the face of our grandchildren, at others, the face of family members, lifelong friends or those we have come to know during these trying times, when we have learned how important hugs and visits are for each of us.
  • How sad it makes me that in some places these are still not possible!
  • May every grandfather, every grandmother, every older person, especially those among us who are most alone, receive the visit of an angel!

His Words of challenge and hope

  • The Lord is always – always – close to us. He is close to us with new possibilities, new ideas, new consolations, but always close to us.
  • You know that the Lord is eternal; he never, ever goes into retirement.
  • Given this, I want to tell you that you are needed in order to help build, in fraternity and social friendship, the world of tomorrow: the world in which we, together with our children and grandchildren, will live once the storm has subsided. All of us must “take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies”.
  • Among the pillars that support this new edifice, there are three that you, better than anyone else, can help to set up. Those three pillars are dreams, memory and prayer.
  • The Lord’s closeness will grant to all, even the frailest among us, the strength needed to embark on a new journey along the path of dreams, memory and prayer.

Dreams

  • The prophet Joel once promised: “Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men will have visions” (Joel 3:1). The future of the world depends on this covenant between young and old.
  • Who, if not the young, can take the dreams of the elderly and make them come true?
  • Yet for this to happen, it is necessary that we continue to dream. Our dreams of justice, of peace, of solidarity can make it possible for our young people to have new visions; in this way, together, we can build the future.
  • You need to show that it is possible to emerge renewed from an experience of hardship. I am sure that you have had more than one such experience: in your life you have faced any number of troubles and yet were able to pull through. Use those experiences to learn how to pull through now.

Memory

  • Dreams are thus intertwined with memory.
  • I think of the painful memory of war, and its importance for helping the young to learn the value of peace.
  • Those among you who experienced the suffering of war must pass on this message. Keeping memory alive is a true mission for every elderly person: keeping memory alive and sharing it with others.


Prayer

  • Finally, prayer. As my predecessor, Pope Benedict, once said: “the prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it perhaps more effectively than the frenetic activity of many others.”

May each of us learn to repeat to all, and especially to the young, the words of consolation we have heard spoken to us today: “I am with you always”! Keep moving forward!

May the Lord grant you his blessing.

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

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