What is a grandparent and what role do they play in the faith of their children and grandchildren? Not all are blessed to have known their grandparents, however yesterday was the church’s newly minted World Day of prayer for Grandparents and the elderly (https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2021-07/world-day-for-grandparents-and-the-elderly-is-the-ultimate-gift.html). Such a day of prayer and remembrance also coincides with the memorial of the saints, Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Not much is known about Joachim and Anne other than from folklore and apocryphal writings. What we do know is that God’s plan of salvation history and the ability for all of us to become saints one day is shaped and molded in our hearts by those who surround us. The parents of Mary and her ability to say yes to God’s will must have had a profound impact in her upbringing. Oftentimes, we as a culture are not able to cherish the importance of our grandparents and elderly among us, oftentimes casting them aside as a burden when they are not able to care for themselves later in life.
Today, let us ask God to bless our grandparents and elderly among us so that they may show us the way to God. One fond memory I had of my late grandfather was his carrying of his daily missal to mass (with the bible readings for the Sunday), which was a reminder to always prepare for each and every mass with fervor and preparation.
Saint John Damascene offers this reflection on the parents of Mary, the theotokos (God-bearer) of our Lord Jesus:
Joachim and Anne, how chaste a couple! While safeguarding the chastity prescribed by the law of nature, you achieved with God’s help something which transcends nature in giving the world the Virgin Mother of God as your daughter. While leading a devout and holy life in your human nature, you gave birth to a daughter nobler than the angels, whose queen she now is. Girl of utter beauty and delight, daughter of Adam and mother of God, blessed the loins and blessed the womb from which you come! Blessed the arms that carried you, and blessed your parents’ lips, which you were allowed to cover with chaste kisses, ever maintaining your virginity. Rejoice in God, all the earth. Sing, exult and sing hymns. Raise your voice, raise it and not be afraid. (Retrieved from the Office of Readings in the Roman Breviary and Orat. 6 in Nativitatem B. Mariae V. 2, 4, 5, 6: PG 96, 663, 667, 670).
St. Anne and Joachim, pray for us and enable in our grandparents and elderly among us the same chaste and fervent example you bestowed upon your daughter, Mary.