One of my earlies memories about church is of my Grandmother bringing me on a visit to her parish church of Corpus Christi in Drumcondra. I was probably no more than five or six at the time. Those of you who know Corpus Christi will appreciate how awe inspiring that building was to a five or six-year-old, with its cathedral like proportions and magnificent dome that dominates the skyline for miles around. What stands out in my mind about that visit was her introduction to the various saints whose statues populate the building. We went from shrine to shrine lighting penny candles and she told me who each saint represented was, with a brief potted history. For some reason that day lodged deeply in my memory.
Almost 50 years later I was appointed as curate to Corpus Christi, and on my first Sunday celebrating Mass there, in the quiet moments after Holy Communion, I was almost swamped with emotion; the memory of that childhood visit flooded back into my mind and I could see my childhood self with my long-gone Granny, who died in the early 1960's, doing the rounds of the shrines. We should never underestimate the role of Grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren. One of the great privations of Covid times was the separation of Grandparents from their grandchildren. The hugs and kisses that we take for granted were all put on ice and 'Whatsapp' or 'Facetime' became a poor substitute for physical presence. Thankfully these times have passed.
On January 31st this year, Pope Francis announced a new celebration in the Church year - 'World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly'. It will be held each year on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the Feast of SS Joachim and Anne, the parents of our Blessed Lady. This year, it falls on July 25th
At all Masses on the weekend of July 25th, we will be celebrating Grandparents and older people and how important they are, or have been, in our lives. There is a special invite for grandparents and grandchildren to come to Mass together on that day if at all possible. It's also an opportunity to remember and celebrate grandparents long passed on, and to remember them in prayer.
Why not make July 25th special in some way. Invite Grandparents for a visit on that day, or send them a card with a message of thanks. If they're far away why not call them on the day.
If grandparents have passed on, take out some photos of them and celebrate their memory. Maybe there's an elderly person living alone close by, why not drop them in a card? There's all kinds of ways we can celebrate Grandparents and the Elderly. We need to honour them in some way for their contribution to the people we have become.
St. Paul writing to Timothy has this to say: "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well" (2 Timothy 1:5)
Grandparents are a vital link that should never be forgotten.
St. Mary's Lucan