In 10 days the Church will celebrate the Second World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the occasion, “They bear fruit even in old age” (Ps 92:15), is intended to highlight how grandparents and the elderly are a value and a gift, both for society and the ecclesial community. The dioceses can celebrate a Mass with liturgy dedicated to the theme or even encourage visits to the elderly who live alone. The gesture, according to the Pontiff, “is a work of mercy in our time.
The World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly will be celebrated throughout the world on July 24. All dioceses, parishes and ecclesial communities are called to celebrate the date whose theme, indicated by Pope Francis, is “They bear fruit even in old age” (Ps 92:15). In this way, as suggested in the message prepared for the occasion, the Pontiff wishes to offer the elderly an existential project: to be “artisans of the revolution of tenderness. On the 24th, at 10:00 a.m. in Italy (5:00 a.m. in Brasilia), the Pope has delegated Cardinal Angelo De Donatis to preside over the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, but all dioceses around the world are invited to celebrate the date with a liturgy dedicated to the elderly.
The invitation to visit the senior alone
The Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life gives indications on how to participate in the World Day of the Grandparents and the Elderly: by celebrating Mass or visiting the elderly living alone, including using the pastoral and liturgical material made available in an online modality on the Dicastery’s own website. Whoever visits or accompanies the elderly alone, for example, the Church will grant a plenary indulgence to those who do so near July 24. According to Pope Francis, “Visiting the abandoned elderly is a work of mercy of our time.”
On the occasion of the commemorative date, Cardinal De Donatis wrote to the parish priests of the diocese and to all elderly people living in Rome. During the European summer period, he said, many activities are paralyzed and many elderly people do not go on vacation, but remain in the city “and sometimes feel even more abandoned.” The cardinal’s invitation is precisely to “think of a simple and meaningful moment for the elderly.” Last year, for example, he recalled, some local parishes proposed an outdoor mass in the evening, with the blessing of the elderly, followed by musical entertainment and dinner: “I urge you to visit the elderly at home or in nursing homes. These simple gestures of attention, carried out with love and pastoral charity, give courage and light to so many people who are alone.”
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, meanwhile, noted that “with the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly, the Holy Father invites us to become aware of the importance of the elderly in the life of society and our communities, and to do so, not in a one-off, but in a structural way. In fact, in 2021, Pope Francis established that World Day would be celebrated every year on the fourth Sunday of July, in proximity to the feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne, grandparents of Jesus.
This year, which falls on July 24, also begins the apostolic trip to Canada, during which a visit to the Shrine of St. Anne and a meeting with young and old at an elementary school in Iqaluit are planned. The care of the elderly and the dialogue between them and the new generations is a constant concern of the Pontiff, who has dedicated a good part of this year’s Wednesday General Audience to catecheses on old age. In addition, the prayer intention that Francis has entrusted to the whole Church through the Pope’s World Prayer Network for this month of July is also for the elderly.