Some excerpts from his message: Old age is not a time of life easily understood even by those of us who are already experiencing it. Many people are afraid of old age; even though it eventually comes with the passage of time, no one prepares us for old age. The Scriptures see things differently. A long life – the Bible teaches – is a blessing, and the aged are to be seen as living signs of the goodness of God who bestows life in abundance. In psalm 71, the psalmist meditates on how the Lord has been present at every stage of our lives – urges us to persevere in hope. God continues to give us the gift of life and to keep us from being overcome by evil…Proclaim whatever He taught me from my youth…to increase my honour and comfort me once again (cf. vv. 14-20). Thus, we see that growing old is more than the natural decline of the body or the inevitable passage of time, but the gift of a long life. Aging is a blessing! From a spiritual standpoint: it is a time to cultivate one’s interior life through the assiduous reading of the word of God, daily prayer, reception of the sacraments and participation in the liturgy. Not a time to lower the sails, but a season of enduring fruitfulness: a new mission bids us look to the future.
Our world is passing through a time of trial and testing, beginning with the violent outbreak of the pandemic, and then by a war that is harming peace and development on a global scale. All this points to the need for a profound change, a conversion, that disarms hearts and leads us to see others as our brothers or sisters. From grandparents and elderly, the world can learn to regard others with understanding and loving gaze… and adopt a way of life that is peaceful and attentive to those in greatest need. “Today we need a new covenant between the old and the young – to share the treasure of life, to overcome conflicts between the generations and to prepare a future for everyone. The young are the children of that history, the root nurtured by the elderly, without which we may wither.”
Pope Francis. Pope Benedict, towards the end of his Pontificate spoke these words to the elderly, “the prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it perhaps more effectively than the frenetic activity of many others.” Pope Francis terms it a very precious resource: a deep breath that the Church and the world urgently need (cf. EG. 262). Especially in these difficult times for our human family, their intercession for the world and for the Church has great value: it inspires in everyone the serene trust that we will surely come out of the storm safe to the shore. Trustful prayer can do a great deal: it can accompany the cry of pain of those who suffer, and it can help change hearts.
The World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly is an opportunity to proclaim once more, with joy, that the Church wants to be with all those whom the Lord – as the Bible says – has “filled with days”. Make this Day known in the parishes and communities, says Pope Francis, to seek out the elderly persons who feel alone, at home or wherever they live.
Let us ask Our Lady, Mother of Tender Love, to make all of us artisans of the revolution of tenderness, so that together we can set the world free from the spectre of loneliness and the demon of violence.