Grandparents: The Great Family of the Church
Pope Francis gave an address at his meeting with the elderly and grandparents on September 28, 2014.
In the address, he stressed once again the invaluable role that the elderly play in our society, church and families. He said, “The elderly who have faith are like trees that continue to bear fruit.” One of the main “fruits” that Pope Francis said the elderly can bear is the fruit of intercessory prayer: the Lord “calls us to pray, especially to intercede,” and he emphasized that this prayer is “strong” and “powerful.”
Pope Francis addressed grandparents specifically and reflected on how they have been entrusted with an even greater task: “to convey the experience of life, the story of a family, the story of a community or even of a people; to share with simplicity their wisdom and the same faith which is the most precious legacy!” He reminded families who have living grandparents in them how blessed they are. The Pope declared that valued grandparents are the “memory of your people” and “the great family of the Church.”
He then spoke about how important it is for society to care for the elderly who do not have families to support them. He said, “We welcome the houses for the elderly…so that they can be homes, not prisons!” He states that these homes “should be the ‘lungs’ of humanity in a country, in a neighborhood, in a parish; ‘sanctuaries’ of humanity where those who are old and weak are cared for and taken care of like a brother or a sister.”
Pope Francis called each of us to cultivate a society where the elderly are never neglected or forgotten, but instead a society “which measures its success on how the weak are cared for.” He encouraged young people especially, who seem often troubled, to “go visit an elderly person and you will become joyful!”