Denver-area Catholics will follow the lead of Pope Francis next week and unroll a blessing for grandparents and the elderly in recognition of their role and value in society.
As Pope Francis gathers the elderly Sept. 28 in St. Peter’s Square for “The Blessing of a Long Life,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila encourages pastors to give a blessing to the aged in their own parishes the same Sunday.
“Our parishes and communities are enriched by the elderly who make up a vital part of our spiritual family, the Church,” the archbishop wrote to parish priests this month. “Too often, these people are overlooked by a society that emphasizes productivity and forgets the immense value of wisdom born from experience and faith and perseverance in the face of hardship, including the sufferings of old age.”
The family has become one of the themes of Pope Francis’ pontificate. The blessing precedes his extraordinary general assembly on the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization” Oct. 5-19. The assembly is a precursor to the general synod of bishops in October 2015 on the same topic.
This topic of family includes the elderly, who preserve the memory and history of a community.
“A people who don’t protect their elderly, who don’t take care for their young, is a people without a future, a people without hope. Because the young—the children, the youth—and the old carry history forward,” Pope Francis said June 15 in Rome. “The children, the young rightly have their biological strength. The elderly offer their memory. But when a community loses its memory, it’s over, it’s over.”
David Uebbing, chancellor of the archdiocese, said the archbishop sent a letter to parish priests with suggested prayer intentions, a blessing that can be read at the end of Mass, and homily notes.
“We don’t want people to think of the family as only those with young children,” Uebbing said. “The family includes grandparents and the elderly as well. They play a real role in the family and it must not be neglected.”
The prayer and blessing for elderly is adapted from a prayer by St. John Paul II in 1999.
Prayer and Blessing for the Elderly
Grant, O Lord of life,
That we may savor every season of our lives as a gift filled with promise for the future.
Grant that we may lovingly accept your will,
and place ourselves each day in your merciful hands.
And when the moment of our definitive “passage” comes,
grant that we may face it with serenity,
without regret for what we shall leave behind.
For in meeting you, after having sought you for so long,
we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known here on earth,
in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope.
Bless our elders. Strengthened by your blessing, may they always be thankful to you and bless you with unending joy.
May Mary, Mother of pilgrim humanity,
pray for us “now and at the hour of our death.”
Keep us ever close to Jesus, your beloved Son and our brother,
the Lord of life and glory. Amen.
Approved by Archbishop Samuel Aquila in the Denver Archdiocese