The theme of this day is based on the words of Jesus Christ “I am with you always”.
An initiative of the Pope at the heart of the year dedicated to the family
One year after the Congress “The Wealth of the Years” organized in January 2020 by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Pope Francis decided to establish a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. The whole Church will celebrate them next Sunday, July 25th. The Holy Father chose the 4th Sunday in July for this feast so that it would be celebrated near that of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary, and therefore the grandparents of the Child Jesus. In a family, the presence of grandparents, and more broadly of people who are gradually aging, is a blessing not only for those close to them, but also for all of society. Their memories, their past experiences, their wisdom in life, their treasures of availability and affection are age-specific charisms that reflect on those around them. Grandchildren who have special moments with their grandparents know how precious they are in their lives and how much they owe them. Children who have become adults are often key mediators in this relationship that unites grandparents and grandchildren.
A letter and a mission
The past year has been difficult for everyone, especially for older people. In the context of this coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis wanted to write a letter addressed especially to grandparents and to the elderly to express to them the closeness of the Church and to encourage them to move forward, to listen to the Lord and to the calls He continues to make to them. Yes, the Spirit of the Lord continues to call the old and the very old to bear witness to their faith even in the weaknesses of their old age! They are the present and the future of the Church. They always have a mission to fulfil. The Pope expresses it to them in his message.
The Pope especially invites children and young people, but also all the faithful, to visit their grandparents and/or elderly people to offer them this letter. If distance or other constraints prevent them, everyone is invited to come to them in another way, on the occasion of this World Day of July 25th. These visits can be an opportunity, like the Virgin Mary going in haste to her cousin Elisabeth, to bless the Lord and to rejoice together. Everyone can prepare a little surprise for them, a gift, a flower, a poem… A prayer has been composed for this occasion and can also be given to them.
A plenary indulgence
will be granted to the faithful who make an affectionate visit, while respecting the usual conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence (to go to confession close to this date, to take Communion at Mass on July 25th and to pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) .
Likewise, a plenary indulgence will be granted to the elderly, who go to confession, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father and go to Masses celebrated especially for them on July 25th. If they are unable to move, they will be able to receive it by uniting their sufferings with those of Christ in his Passion and by participating, if they can, in the celebration by modern means of communication (radio, TV, internet etc.).
Access to the sacraments
For the elderly who have not been able to leave their homes for a long time, initiatives to allow them access to the sacraments, in particular of reconciliation and the Eucharist, are encouraged on this occasion.
A special liturgy is planned for the feast of July 25th
Each parish, each community, each place in the church is called to celebrate this feast locally. All arrangements should be made so that as many elderly people as possible can attend. A liturgical booklet has been drawn up, giving some ideas for the homily, ideas for universal prayer and a special blessing. A time of contemplation and remembrance of the people who returned to the Father’s House during the pandemic is proposed. Close to the date of July 25th (if not possible on the same day) celebrations in hospitals and nursing homes are also encouraged.
A mission entrusted to young people
They are encouraged by the Church to carry out as many visits as possible to the elderly and to share the fruits of them, especially in the perspective of the next World Youth Day scheduled for Portugal in August 2023. ‘Mary got up and went in haste’ is the theme of the meeting. The young Virgin Mary hastened to see her cousin Elisabeth, aged and sterile, who was miraculously awaiting little John, surnamed the Baptist. The Mother of God leads us to follow her in the service of our elders, in the sharing of the faith that brings us together, in the song of the Magnificat and works of charity. A fruit of the Holy Spirit, intergenerational communion has a very great missionary scope. Young people are invited to the celebration of July 25th and to share it with others.
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 call me.
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.