My dear People of God in the Philippines and Filipinos in other countries,
Peace be with you!
As the first-fruits of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, the Holy Father established the “World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which will be held throughout the Church every year on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ ‘grandparents’”.
Pope Francis reminds us that “The Holy Spirit still stirs up thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly today: their voice is precious because it sings the praises of God and safeguards the roots of peoples. They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young”.
This continues to be our experience, especially in households and communities where the young and the parents live with or in close proximity with their grandparents and elders. This is also felt in countries where Filipinos migrate or work. Generations care for one another, not only in seasons of abundance but especially in moments of trial. They share resources, skills, ideas, wisdom and faith with no thought for recompense except seeing their loved ones flourish in joy and hope.(cf. Christus vivit # 16)
Pope Francis warns us, however, that “Grandparents are often forgotten and we forget this wealth of preserving roots and passing on”. As a country blessed by 500 years of Christianity, let us make sure that grandparents remain – and feel – that elders are cherished members of our families, communities and nation.
The Church in the Philippines, called to be a community of missionary disciples of the Lord, knows that the Church of the poor and the Church of young cannot be part of a throw-away culture that disposes of the very generation that teaches us: “ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan hindi makakarating sa paroroonan”.
As part of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, let us – especially Bishops, Parish Priests and Lay Leaders – “promote initiatives that build bridges across the different stages of life, while also making the elderly into active agents within the pastoral care of the community”.(cf. Amoris Laetitia # 191-193)
As we celebrate the World Day for Grandparents and Elderly this July 25, 2021, let us all join Pope Francis in reflecting on the theme: “ I am with you always” (Mt 28:20)
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
+ ROMULO G. VALLES, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
04 June 2021