Only a few days ago, daily news, a curious happening deserved the attention of the media and of the whole society. A twelve-year-old boy in Germany stole his parents’ car and drove for 200 km on the highway to reach his grandparents’ house. Such incidents are not rare in Italy either. A couple of years ago, a young girl ended up in a hospital due to an injury to her abdomen, in Trentino, after falling in an attempt to reach her grandparents’ house to celebrate the Carnival. It is not the last case of children who feel the need to stay with their grandparents, a deep need, body and spirit. An ancestral strong feeling that goes beyond family affection.
Today, October 2, is the feast of the Guardian Angels, but in Italy it is also the Feast of the grandparents (since 2005). It is no coincidence that these two holidays coincide. Our grandparents, our elderly, are the guardian angels of children and the guardians of the entire human society.
This year, in preparation for that day, Tuesday September 20, in Rome, was presented at a press conference the initiative “A thousand squares for grandparents of Italy”, promoted by senior Italian Federanziani, in collaboration with the National Association older workers (Anla). Were present, besides the Italian Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin, personalities from the world of culture, cinema and show business, including the now famous Grandfather Libero, Lino Banfi, to present some of the festival events for grandparents raising money for the purchase of defibrillators for Italian retirement homes. On September 26, was held in Rome “the game of the grandparents,” among the “most mature” of the National Actors and former players of Roma, Lazio and Frosinone Teams. Today and tomorrow, in the squares of the beautiful country, will be held charity sales of pasta. On October 15, the meeting with the Holy Father in the Vatican, in Paul VI Hall.
“Grandparents are the wisdom of a family, they are the wisdom of a people. And a people that does not listen to its grandparents is a dying people”, Pope Bergoglio told the families on a pilgrimage to Rome in the Year of the Faith, October 26, 2013. Grandparents are the repository of human wisdom and witnesses of life. “Young people give us the strength to walk the people and the elderly strengthen, this force with the memory and wisdom,” said the Pope on the occasion of the Feast of grandparents in 2014. Then, he added: “How important is the presence of the grandparents! How valuable their role in families and in our society! The good relationship between the young and the elderly is crucial for the progress of the civil and ecclesial communities.” And again: “Taking care of children and of the elderly is a civilized choice.” This statement comes as a slap in the face of those who apply a utilitarian-economic criterion to assigning value to people. Wealth is not in money, in material goods that are produced or can be bought, but in dreams that one is able to generate and donate.
This celebration is not pure rhetoric. It is proper recognition of the human family of their origins, of their heritage and mission in the world we carry on together, learning from the experience of those who came before us, of the lessons that are transmitted as the result of joys and sufferings, the example of an integral and complete humanity that those who have made a longer journey leave us as a gift. This recognition can not be solved with a day of celebration, but must be confirmed every day, respecting one another inside the family, in an intergenerational alliance that is the heart of a society, and in the concrete service to the elderly, from the institutions, so as to exploit the richness of their wisdom, the civilization lived as the dignity of life at any time of existence, from birth, for the sake of the entire community – and even before birth, from the moment of conception – till death.
“We, old people, can thank the Lord for the benefits received, we can remind our ambitious young people that life without love is arid, remind those fearful young people that anxiety of the future can be overcome, remind those who love themselves too much, that there is more joy in giving than in receiving,” said Pope Francis during the Angelus of 11 March 2014. Without ignoring the faults of the elders, the soul’s weakness. “The cynicism of an old man who has lost the sense of his testimony and despises the young is such a bad thing, whereas encouraging that a senior is able to convey to the young in search of the meaning of life!” exclaimed the Holy Father.
This summer, while he was a guest at the diocesan convention in St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Pope Francis exclaimed: “We need our grandparents’ dreams, salvation comes from here.” He recalled that Jesus in the temple was received by two grandfathers, who have told their dream”. “This is the time for our grandparents to dream,” he added. It is time for our elderly to help us to gain back the ability to dream. And dreaming is not an escape from reality, but the image of possible good and beauty, if we are committed to make it happen. Salvation comes from here.