JULY OVERVIEW. Having considered youth in June, at the opposite extreme is old age. In nature age is respected in some ways but on a practical level it is also recognized that it may become a burden on the community and a risk to their wellbeing and sustainability. That cannot be the case within civilized human society, although there have been traditional practices where elderly were left to die. For us today grandparents belong in families and are its historical memory. Not all grandparents are elderly, many are active in their own lives, while many others play a great role in the lives of their children and grandchildren. A joy to each.
At the same time in the great circle of life there is a time for everything, for birth and death, for coming and going, for remaining and leaving. All these phases should be handled with patience, consideration and acceptance. Deliberate violence towards the elderly, a hurtful negative trait can happen in human families and also in other realms of nature.
Very often it is grandparents who ensure that the most important values are passed down to their grandchildren and many people testify that they owe their initiation into the Christian life to their grandparents. AL 192. Our contemporary experience of being orphans as a result of cultural discontinuity, uprootedness and the collapse of the certainties that shape our lives, challenges us to make our families places where children can sink roots in the rich soil of a collective history. AL 193. “The prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it, perhaps more effectively than the frenetic activity of many others. In these difficult times for our human family, sailing in the same boat, across the stormy sea of the pandemic, your intercession for the world and the Church has great value. It inspires in us the trust that we will soon come to shore.” July 25 2021, Day for Grandparents and Elderly.
Mercy is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. FM2. Mercy will always be greater than any sin and no one can place limits on the love of God. FM3
SETTING THE SCENE. To offer special support to elderly parishioners a special effort was made to invite and include them in different kind of groups where they could share their particular needs which included fellowship and spiritual and practical advice. Some older persons were living with family, some in retirement homes and some alone and many were keen to be part of a regular faith sharing group. Some opportunities were also considered to offer support to those who are caring for their elderly relatives. MARFAM has a number of resources on this theme. See www.marfam.org.za/grandparents
A simple MOVEMENT OF PRAYER OF GRANDPARENTS FOR GRANDCHILDREN
We know how grandparents are seriously concerned about their grandchildren, young and older. They are often close but also often find it difficult to understand one another. Older people may have more time and a greater desire for a deeper prayer life. They also feel helpless and no longer useful in life. This movements can help grandparents to recognise the important contribution they can still make in the lives of their families no matter how far away. There is no formal structure or procedure but it is nice to be able to share with others and form a group for mutual support. Specific Bible passages can be used or the reading for the day. A valuable part of this movement is to strengthen our relationship with God and with our grandchildren through the awareness that is created and the love than can blossom.
Step 1. Bring to mind each of your grandchildren and reflect on their special qualities and their needs. Put up their photographs or other mementoes, share with any others present.
Step 2. Select and read and share on a scripture passage. What is God saying to me?
Step 3. Pray the Grandparents Prayer. Add any special prayers.
Grandparents’ prayer :
Heavenly Father, I give you praise and thanks for the great gift of life you have given to me. With wonder and awe I acknowledge that through my life you granted life to my children and they in turn became the parents of my grandchildren.
The world in which they live is different from my world and sometimes we do not understand each other. We need your gifts of acceptance and forgiveness so that we can be at peace. We need your gifts of love and joy so that together we may live your plan for our family and all the families of the world. We ask you to grant us these gifts in Jesus’ name. Amen.
BLESSING AND PRAYER FOR GRANDPARENTS (at a special Mass or service) Grandchildren’s prayer:
Lord, today we bring to you in prayer our grandparents. They may be here with us now, or may already have died and are now at peace.
As parents, they gave life and cared for our own parents. We thank you for them and for that gift. We thank you too for the memories they created and that they have shared with us.
They were born into a world different to ours. As times have changed they may have struggled to keep up and sometimes lost touch. Forgive us for the times we have been impatient with them and help us to be generous with our love and care for them in their old age. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessing: We pray for God’s blessing on the grandparents of our families and community. Bless with eternal rest those grandparents who have died.
Bless all grandparents with peace and contentment and an acceptance that their lives were well spent in your service.
We ask St Joachim and St Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, to pray with us. We bless all grandparents in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit