On 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin preached the homily at Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Knock, Co Mayo, for the National Pilgrimage of the Catholic Grandparents Association to Knock Shrine.
During his homily, Bishop Doran said, “Unfortunately, there is – and there always has been – a tendency in society to value people according to their usefulness, rather than for who they are as unique human beings, or indeed, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. If you ask yourself who is most likely to be negatively affected by that tendency, it is surely those who are not directly involved in the production of wealth; the children, the elderly and those who are sick. They are more easily regarded as a burden.”
In response to this tendency, the Bishop emphasised, “We need, as a society, to remember that being a grandparent is primarily a relationship, not just a function, and that it shouldn’t become a burden.”
He continued, “Pope Francis has also spoken a lot about how children often hear the good news of the Gospel from their grandparents and how it is often grandparents who teach their grandchildren to pray. I have met young adults whose faith was not nourished by their parents, but who greatly value that wonderful gift that they received from their grandparents if being introduced to Jesus and to the life of the faith community.”
In conclusion, Bishop Doran said, “I have been very conscious in recent years, as I have celebrated Confirmation, how important grandparents are to children. I know that children love it when grandparents tell stories from the past. I want to encourage you also to share the stories of your own faith; not just your faith now, but your faith when you were their age. Let them see that you have had the same questions as they have. Help them to see how you are still nourished by the Eucharist. Help them to see how the gifts of the Holy Spirit still play a part in your own life today. Our first reading today poses the question: “who can know the mind of God?” So you may never know what good things God has in store for your grandchildren or how God is working through you to bring those plans to fruitfulness.”