As we continue the path of vocations for our Parish Family, it is important that we all recognize the call God has for each of us. The call can be soft and we may not even hear it, sometimes for years. But, that call is there nonetheless. If anyone loves us with patience and kindness, it is God. Last week, I started to shine a light on some of those calls we see as vocations. Vocations are not just the calling to becoming a priest or nun, but they are clear directions on how we can take our faith and turn it into action for the betterment of world around us. This week, I wanted to focus on a special vocation: Grandparents.
Last week, Pope Francis celebrated National Grandparents Day in Italy, with a clear direction of the vocation of Grandparents:
I am happy to be together with you to experience this day of reflection and prayer, placed in the context of Grandparents Day. I greet you all with affection, starting with the Presidents of the Associations, whom I thank for their words. I express my appreciation to those who have faced difficulties and hardships in order not to miss this event; and at the same time I am close to all elderly persons, who, because they are ill or on their own, could not move from home, but who are spiritually united with us…
Not a few elderly people who generously spend their time and the talents that God has bestowed upon them by helping and supporting others. I think of how many you make yourselves available in parishes for a truly valuable service: some of you are dedicated to decorating the house of the Lord, others as catechists, leaders of the liturgy, others as witnesses to charity. And what about their role in the family? How many grandparents care for grandchildren, simply by passing on to children the experience of life, the spiritual and cultural values of a community and a people! In countries that have suffered a severe religious persecution, grandparents are the ones who pass on the faith to new generations, leading the children to be baptized in a context of underground suffering…
Dear grandfathers and grandmothers, thank you for your example of love, dedication and wisdom. Continue with courage to bear witness to these values! Let not your smiles and the beautiful brightness of your eyes be lacking in society! I accompany you with my prayers – and do not you forget to pray for me as well. And now, upon you and your intentions and good works, I invoke the Lord’s blessing.
My children are especially blessed. We live only a few miles away from their grandparents. My father-in-law and mother-in-law are active in their lives on a daily basis: encouraging, loving, protecting, and of course spoiling them ever-so-slightly. Donna and I could not be the parents we are without them and we are just as blessed as our kids that her parents are part of our life in such a tangible way. However, that is no longer the normal environment in our society, with families being spread over the country and world. Some grandparents take on the parenting role, with the complexity of issues in families. Still others, as surrogates and protectors, care for children who have no loved ones, and become a family for those most vulnerable.
With the blessings of this Parish Family, I hope we are providing ways for all grandparents to heed their vocation. And, for those experienced members of our family that do not have grandchildren, that they can find opportunities to share their abilities, expertise, and love to the youth of our parish as mentors, coaches, and cheering fans. We can all be grandparents, spoiling the children of our Parish Family, ever-so-slightly, while we instill the virtues and faith that have made us their positive role models.