Honor the elders, learn from them a gentle way of sharing faith, Pope says


By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

EDMONTON, Alta. (CNS) — Celebrating the feast of the grandparents of Jesus, Pope Francis not only urged people to honor their elders, but he asked them to reflect on what they will bequeath to future generations.

“We have received so much from the hands of those who have gone before us. What do we, in turn, want to bequeath to those who will come after us? the pope asked in his July 26 homily during mass at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.

Do people want to convey a weak, “rose water” faith or a living faith, he asked. “A society based on personal profit or on fraternity? A world at war or a world at peace? A devastated creation or a house that continues to be welcoming?

Organizers said they gave out 60,000 tickets for Pope Francis’ mass at the stadium during the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. But the Pope’s arrival was briefly delayed as ticket inspectors struggled to get people into the stadium efficiently.

Priority for free tickets was given to First Nations, Inuit and Métis survivors of residential schools and elders, but the liturgy was the first event of the Pope’s July 24-29 visit to Canada that was not focused nearly exclusively on indigenous communities.

However, an indigenous artist created the Pope’s vestments for Mass. Julia Kozak, the artist, made a beaded miter and two beaded robes: a chasuble that the Pope would have worn if he had presided over the entire Mass, and a cope, which he wore since he was only presiding over the Liturgy of the Word and delivered the homily.

Due to persistent pain in the pope’s knee, Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton was the main celebrant of the Eucharist liturgy.

The clothing echoed the style and custom of a traditional dancer from the Nisga’a Nation on the west coast of British Columbia. Prior to the Pope’s arrival, Kozak explained that the circle of copper leather in the center of the cross was meant to symbolize Jesus present in the Eucharist as the center of Catholic sacramental life. The curved lines extending from the cross were a reminder of how faith, holiness, and goodness gently spread like ripples in water.

The sweetness returned several times in the homily of the 85-year-old Pope Francis.

In his ode to grandparents, they were the ones who “held us by the hand when we were afraid, reassured us in the dark of night, encouraged us when in broad daylight we were faced with life decisions important”.

For many people in many cultures, it was grandparents who created a “familiar” atmosphere of faith, he said. “Because that is how faith is fundamentally transmitted: in the mother tongue, in dialect, it is transmitted at home, through affection and encouragement, attention and closeness.”

“From our grandparents,” he said, “we learned that love is never forced, it never robs others of their inner freedom.”

“This is how Joachim and Anne loved Mary, and this is how Mary loved Jesus – with a love that never suffocated or held him back, but accompanied him in the fulfillment of the mission for which he was born,” the pope said. .

Individual Catholics and the church as a whole must learn to share the faith with that same gentle style, he said. “May we learn never to press the conscience of others, never to restrict the freedom of those around us and, above all, never to fail to love and respect those who have gone before us and who are to us entrusted. Because they are a precious treasure that preserves a story greater than themselves.

Encouraging Mass attendees to honor and respect their grandparents and other elders, the pope suggested that families could create “a little family memorial” with photos and items that belonged to their grandparents or to the old ones. As they passed the small collection, family members would be called to prayer.

“In the fog of oblivion that darkens our turbulent times, it is essential to cultivate our roots, to pray for and with our ancestors, to devote time to remembering and protecting their heritage, the pope said. “This is how a family tree grows; this is how the future is built.

And part of honoring one’s elders, he said, is working to build the kind of society they had wanted, one that was more just, more brotherly and one marked by solidarity.

“Supported by those who are our roots, it is now our turn to bear fruit,” the pope said. “We are the branches that must bloom and sow new seeds of history.”


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