Today is the feast day of Its. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus. The people of Brittany, homeland of our founders, Saint Jeanne Jugan, have a great devotion to St. Anne, so this feast is notable for us Little Sisters. Also, our American novitiate is named after St Anne!
Besides that, it was pretty awesome on July 26, 2013, when, at his very first World Youth Day, Pope Francis spoke of Joachim and Anne and the relationship between the young and the old. Here is what he said:
“Today the Church celebrates the parents of the Virgin Mary, the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne. In their home, Mary came into the world, accompanied by the extraordinary mystery of the Immaculate Conception. Mary grew up in the home of Joachim and Anne; she was surrounded by their love and faith: in their home she learned to listen to the Lord and to follow his will. Saints Joachim and Anne were part of a long chain of people who had transmitted their faith and love for God, expressed in the warmth and love of family life, down to Mary, who received the Son of God in her womb and who gave him to the world, to us. How precious is the family as the privileged place for transmitting the faith! Speaking about family life, I would like to say one thing: today, as Brazil and the Church around the world celebrate this feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Grandparents Day is also being celebrated. How important grandparents are for family life, for passing on the human and religious heritage which is so essential for each and every society! How important it is to have intergenerational exchanges and dialogue, especially within the context of the family. The Aparecida Document says, “Children and the elderly build the future of peoples: children because they lead history forward, the elderly because they transmit the experience and wisdom of their lives” (No. 447). This relationship and this dialogue between generations is a treasure to be preserved and strengthened! In this World Youth Day, young people wish to acknowledge and honour their grandparents. They salute them with great affection. Grandparents. Let us salute grandparents. Young people salute their grandparents with great affection and they thank them for the ongoing witness of their wisdom.”
The next day he also spoke of the elderly. It was pretty amazing to hear Pope Francis talking about the elderly … at World Youth Day!:
“Among the Argentine people, I ask the elderly, from my heart: do not cease to be the cultural storehouse of our people, a storehouse that hands on justice, hands on history, hands on values, hands on the memory of the people. And the rest of you, please, do not oppose the elderly: let them speak, listen to them and go forward. But know this, know that at this moment, you young people and you elderly people are condemned to the same destiny: exclusion. Don’t allow yourselves to be excluded. It’s obvious! That’s why I think you must work. Faith in Jesus Christ is not a joke, it is something very serious. It is a scandal that God came to be one of us. It is a scandal that he died on a cross. It is a scandal: the scandal of the Cross. The Cross continues to provoke scandal. But it is the one sure path, the path of the Cross, the path of Jesus, the path of the Incarnation of Jesus. Please do not water down your faith in Jesus Christ. We dilute fruit drinks – orange, apple, or banana juice, but please do not drink a diluted form of faith. Faith is whole and entire, not something that you water down. It is faith in Jesus. It is faith in the Son of God made man, who loved me and who died for me. So then: make yourselves heard; take care of the two ends of the population: the elderly and the young; do not allow yourselves to be excluded and do not allow the elderly to be excluded. Secondly: do not “water down” your faith in Jesus Christ. The Beatitudes: What must we do, Father? Look, read the Beatitudes: that will do you good. If you want to know what you actually have to do, read Matthew Chapter 25, which is the standard by which we will be judged. With these two things you have the action plan: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25. You do not need to read anything else. I ask you this with all my heart. Very well, I thank you for coming so close. I am sorry that you are all penned in, but let me tell you something. I experience that myself now and then. What an awful thing it is to be penned in. I openly admit it, but we’ll see. I understand you. I would have liked to come closer to you, but I understand that for security reasons, it just isn’t possible. Thank you for coming, thank you for praying for me; I ask you from my heart, I need it. I need your prayers, I need them very much. Thank you for that. Well then, I want to give you my blessing, and afterwards, we will bless the image of the Virgin that is to travel all over the Republic. And also the Cross of Saint Francis, which will travel on that same missionary journey. But do not forget: make yourselves heard; take care of the two ends of life, the two ends of the history of peoples: the elderly and the young; and do not water down the faith. And now let us pray, so as to bless the image of the Virgin, and then I will give you the Blessing.”