Bishop Denis Nulty, chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family, has welcomed today’s publication of Pope Francis’ message for the second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will be celebrated around the world on Sunday 24 July next.
Bishop Nulty said, “I warmly welcome Pope Francis’ message encouraging the elderly to persevere in hope and to embrace their great power to transform the world through prayer and a revolution of tenderness.
“The theme chosen by Pope Francis for this year’s celebration is from the Psalms ‘In old age they still bring forth fruit’ (Ps 92:14). These words are offered to us by the Holy Father as a “true Gospel that we can proclaim” and one which “runs counter to what the world thinks about this stage of life.”
“In his message, Pope Francis says that old age is no time to give up and lower the sails, but a season of enduring fruitfulness: a new mission awaits us and bids us look to the future. The Holy Father goes on to say:
‘The special sensibility that those of us who are elderly have for the concerns, thoughts and the affections that make us human should once again become the vocation of many. It would be a sign of our love for the younger generations. This would be our own contribution to the revolution of tenderness, a spiritual and non-violent revolution in which I encourage you, dear grandparents and elderly persons, to take an active role.’
Bishop Nulty continued, “I am very encouraged by Pope Francis’ words as I look around our Church and see the long and faithful service offered by our elderly priests and religious and the decades long commitment of so many lay faithful to our parishes.
“The World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is taking place this year against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and conflict in many other parts of the world. Pope Francis addresses this in his text and invites Grandparents in particular ‘to teach the women and men of our time to regard others with the same understanding and loving gaze with which we regard our own grandchildren. Our grandparents held us in their arms and carried us on their knees; now is the time for us to carry on our own knees – with practical assistance or with prayer alone – not only our own grandchildren but also the many frightened grandchildren whom we have not yet met and who may be fleeing from war or suffering its effects.
“My favourite line from the Pope’s message is when he invites is to be poets of prayer:
‘Let us too become, as it were, poets of prayer: let us develop a taste for finding our own words, let us once again take up those taught by the word of God. Our trustful prayer can do a great deal: it can accompany the cry of pain of those who suffer, and it can help change hearts. We can be “the enduring ‘chorus’ of a great spiritual sanctuary, where prayers of supplication and songs of praise sustain the community that toils and struggles in the field of life.’
“What a wonderfully uplifting challenge to all of us to become poets of prayer!
“Pope Francis concludes his message by asking us all to make this World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly known in our parishes and communities. I echo his words and I invite parishes across the country to celebrate grandparents and elders – not forgetting our older priests and religious – on the second last Sunday of July. I would also encourage parishes to ensure that their local nursing care home is included in this annual celebration.”
You can read the Pope’s message in full on www.catholicbishops.ie where resources for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly will be available from 1 July.
Bishop Denis Nulty is Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Apostolic Administrator of Ossory Diocese and chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family.
The World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly was celebrated for the first time in July 2021. The annual celebration takes place on the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary and Grandparents of Jesus.