Grandparents Can Bring Faith Formation to Kids

The Church celebrated the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly on July 23, as decreed by Pope Francis in 2021 to be marked on the Sunday closest to the July 26 feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ grandparents. 

The pope also offered a plenary indulgence, which is a remission of the temporal punishment due for one’s sins, the Vatican said. 

The decree, according to Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, said that a plenary indulgence will be extended “to grandparents, the elderly, and all the faithful who, motivated by the true spirit of penitence and charity,” attend Mass or other services to celebrate the world day and that the indulgence can “also be applied as suffrage for the souls in purgatory.” 

This celebration of grandparents is so important for the Church, as grandmothers and grandfathers can be an integral piece in the faith formation of their heirs. 

In this week’s edition we give suggestions of wholesome activities grandparents can do with their children’s children in August, in the time when summer camp has ended and school has not yet begun. 

This could be the most important month of the year for the opportunity to leave a lasting impression on your young charges when it comes to passing on the faith. 

There is a biblical tradition of elderly women who gave up hope of ever conceiving offspring, only to later give birth to children who were destined for greatness. In conceiving the Virgin Mary, Sts. Joachim and Anne joined the likes of Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament. 

Sts. Joachim and Anne’s great faith was especially evident when, in gratitude for God’s goodness in giving them a daughter, and in recognition of their daughter’s destiny for greatness, they brought the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God. 

Unlike Sts. Joachim and Anne, today’s grandparents have the broad experience of raising children in a modern setting with all the current activities pulling families away from the Church. 

Whether these activities are sports, family obligations, or work, they can interrupt the time that should be set aside for faith formation. 

Writing to his peers in 2021, Pope Francis told Catholics who have reached a venerable age like he has that God is close to them and still has plans for their lives. 

“I was called to become the bishop of Rome when I had reached, so to speak, retirement age, and thought I would not be doing anything new,” said the pope, who is 86 now and was elected when he was 76. 

“The Lord is always — always — close to us. He is close to us with new possibilities, new ideas, new consolations, but always close to us. You know that the Lord is eternal; he never, ever goes into retirement,” Pope Francis wrote in his message for the Catholic Church’s first celebration of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. 

This message about the importance of grandparents in the lives of their family ages quite well. 

Let’s take the summer doldrums of August to pass on our faith to those most important members of our families — our next generation. 

Some of us can barely remember much of our early faith formation. However, many of us have glimpses of our grandparents being important in our lives. 

It is no small wonder that it is easier to believe in a heavenly Father after being so close to an earthly grandma or grandpa. 

Please enjoy this special time of the year to spoil your grandkids, but take time to pass on your faith.