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Pope Francis has established a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will take place for the second time on Sunday, 24 July 2022 on the theme 'In old age they will still bear fruit (Ps 92:15)'. The World Day was established to be celebrated on the Sunday closest to the Feast Day of Saints Joachim and Anne on 26 July.
Many people are afraid of old age. They consider it a sort of disease with which any contact is best avoided. The elderly, they think, are none of their concern and should be set apart, perhaps in homes or places where they can be cared for, lest we have to deal with their problems. This is the mindset of the "throw-away culture", which leads us to think that we are somehow different from the poor and vulnerable in our midst, untouched by their frailties and separated from "them" and their troubles. The Scriptures see things differently. A long life – so the Bible teaches – is a blessing, and the elderly are not outcasts to be shunned but living signs of the goodness of God who bestows life in abundance. Blessed is the house where an older person lives! Blessed is the family that honours the elderly!
Old age is not a time of life easily understood even by those of us who are already experiencing it. Even though it eventually comes with the passage of time, no one prepares us for old age, and at times it seems to take us by surprise. The more developed societies expend large sums on this stage of life without really helping people to understand and appreciate it; they offer healthcare plans to the elderly but not plans for living this age to the full.  This makes it hard to look to the future and discern what direction to take. On the one hand, we are tempted to ward off old age by hiding our wrinkles and pretending to be forever young, while on the other, we imagine that the only thing we can do is bide our time, thinking glumly that we cannot "still bring forth fruit".
Click here to read the full text of Pope Francis' Message for the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly.
I give thanks to you, Lord,
For the blessing of a long life
For, to those who take refuge in You, Grant always to bear fruit.
Forgive, O Lord,
Resignation and disillusionment, But forsake me not
When my strength declines.
Teach me to look with hope
To the future you give me,
To the mission you entrust to me And to sing your praises without end.
Make me a tender craftsman
Of Your revolution,
To guard with love my grandchildren
And all the little ones who seek shelter in You.
Protect, O Lord, Pope Francis
And grant Thy Church
To deliver the world from loneliness. Direct our steps in the way of peace.
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