I don't think "grandparents day" in the Hallmark manner has hit the pope yet, but he did tell his listeners that grandparents are a central part of the family. The feast of Saints Joachim and Anne is the Church's way of honoring grandparents seeing in Saints Joachim and Anne great models of what grandparents are to be for children and family systems. Pope Benedict's remarks came within a reflection of the Sunday gospel where we heard Saint John's narrative of the Multiplication of the loaves and fish. He asks THAT rather important question which we ask ourselves in front of Christ: who am I?
The Pontiff spoke about yesterday's Gospel in which
Saint John narrates the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and in doing so
introduces the notion of priestly mediation and the sacrament of the Eucharist.
He said "It is as if the Eucharist were anticipated in the great sign of
the bread of life. In this Year for Priests, ... we members of the clergy may
see ourselves reflected in this text of John's, identifying ourselves with the
Apostles when they say: where are we going to find bread for these people to
eat? And when we read of that anonymous boy with his five barley loaves and two
fish, we too are moved to exclaim: But what are they among so many people? In
other words, who am I? How can I with my limitations help Jesus in His mission?
And it is the Lord Who provides the answer: By putting in his 'saintly and
venerable' hands the little they are, priests become instruments of salvation
for many people, for everyone!"
Considering the place of the family in
our society, the Pope mentioned Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed
Virgin Mary and, hence, grandparents of Jesus, whose feast day was yesterday (see the blog entry below).
Since yesterday was Sunday, the Church didn't observe the liturgical memorial
of these two rather important saints because Sunday ordinarily trumps the feast of saints. Careful observers of Benedict's work will notice that he comes back to a constant theme with the vital importance his places on education in Church's pastoral care program. Benedict XVI invited us "to pray for grandparents who, in families, are the depositories
and often witnesses of the fundamental values of life." The educational
role of grandparents is always important, and it becomes even more important
when, for various reasons, parents are unable to ensure an adequate presence
alongside their children as they are growing", the Pope added, entrusting
all the grandparents of the world to the protection of Saints Joachim and Anna. He also mentioned "all elderly
people, especially those who are alone or experiencing moments of difficulty."