Overview. Grandparents are families’ roots. Old age is recognized with respect in many cultures and older members in families are guarded by their offspring and the community, in an animal group as well as human society. 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. Celebrate with them during this month also keeping in mind that violence towards the elderly is all too common. Pope Francis: 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. Where the number of elderly persons is growing even as the birth rate declines, they can be regarded as a burden. On the other hand, the care that they require often puts a strain on their loved ones. AL 48. Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. LS 42.
Setting the scene. The setting for the reflections is a group of elderly members of the community who gather for a weekly meeting of their luncheon club at St Mary Magdalene’s church. This is a place where they could share their joys and also their worries. They were a little bit uneasy when Mrs Sekonya suggested they add a short scripture sharing and reflection time but soon they came to enjoy the sessions as they came to see the strong link between faith and life. They were also encouraged to use the process at home. Over time as they discussed and shared with one another they also added a time of prayer for their grandchildren.
Each of the daily reflections consists of a short life situation, a passage from the scripture readings of the day and a quotation from Pope Francis from one of his documents.
PRAYING FOR GRANDCHILDREN. This can be done every day during the month using the prayer below or any spontaneous prayer.
Bring to mind each of your grandchildren or anyone in particular and their special qualities and needs.
Heavenly Father, I worship you, and give you praise for the great gift of life you have given to me. With gratitude, wonder and awe I acknowledge that it is through my life that you granted life to my children; They are mine, ours and yours. They in turn have become the parents of our grandchildren, and some of us are already blessed with greatgrandchildren in your wonderful chain of life. It is for all these young ones that I thank you and I pray for them today. Some of them are strong in faith, others strong in body, Some are beautiful in looks, others beautiful in spirit. Some are ugly and disfigured, some destroy their own beauty.
The world in which they live is different from the world in which we lived. Sometimes we do not understand their world and their ways and we need your gift of forgiveness so that we can be at peace. You have given them to us to love and to hold in prayer, so I earnestly pray today that through my intercession no evil will befall them and that the hopes and dreams we have built up over the years will be theirs too. May your kingdom come, in their lives and in ours. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.
Pope Francis: Not only have they given life, but they contribute by their actions to building up their family (cf. Tit 2:2-5), and by their prayer and their life of faith, they spiritually enrich every member of their family and community.
FAMILY LOVE AT THE HEART OF FAMILY LIFE ACROSS THE GENERATIONS
July 1. The group, mostly older women and some men, gathered regularly and naturally talked about their children and grandchildren. “Do you remember that grandmother from Tzaneen who chose to be a surrogate mother of triplets for her daughter. I think she was very loving to do that.” “But she didn’t have to bring up the children in her old age. That would have been too hard on her.” Mrs James said, “I have looked after more than three grandchildren in my time in addition to my own laat lammetjie. That is how it goes sometimes.”
Reflect, share, act. Scripture: “I will surely return to you in the spring and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Sarah laughed to herself, saying “After I have grown old and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure.” Gen 18:1-15. Pope Francis: The strength of the family lies in its capacity to love and to teach how to love. For all a family’s problems, it can always grow, beginning with love.” AL 53.