“‘I am with you always’ are also the words that I, as Bishop of Rome and an elderly person like yourselves, would like to address to you on this first World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly,” he wrote. “The whole Church is close to you -- to us -- and cares about you, loves you and does not want to leave you alone.”
Pope Francis noted that his message came after the difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic, which “swept down on us like an unexpected and furious storm,” and was a time of trial especially for the elderly.
“Many of us fell ill, others died or experienced the death of spouses or loved ones, while others found themselves isolated and alone for long periods,” he said. “The Lord is aware of all that we have been through in this time. He is close to those who felt isolated and alone, feelings that became more acute during the pandemic.”
The pope encouraged people to visit their grandparents or other elderly or sick people, saying that they would be like “angels” to them.
He also urged the elderly to pray with the psalms and to read a page of the Gospel every day.
“We will be comforted by the Lord’s faithfulness. The Scriptures will also help us to understand what the Lord is asking of our lives today. For at every hour of the day (cf. Matthew 20:1-16) and in every season of life, he continues to send laborers into his vineyard,” he said.
As part of the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, the Vatican has also granted a plenary indulgence to those who participate, either by attending a related spiritual event or by physically or virtually visiting the elderly, sick, or disabled on July 25.
An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins that have already been forgiven.
The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence, which must be met, are that the individual be in the state of grace by the completion of the acts, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the pope’s intentions.
The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion, up to about 20 days before or after the indulgenced act.
The Apostolic Penitentiary said that the indulgence could also be gained by the elderly, sick, and anyone who cannot leave their homes for a serious reason, by uniting spiritually to the spiritual events of the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, “offering to the Merciful God their prayers, pains or sufferings of their lives,” while following the words of the pope on that day through television, radio, or the internet.
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