Monda: at the grandparents’ school to continue on the path of history

The editor of L’Osservatore Romano focuses in an editorial on Francis dedicated to the interventions of the elderly, evoked on the day of the feast of St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus: we all travel horizontally, we contemporaries, but different brothers and sisters, and “vertically” with those who preceded us and those who will come after us, ready to receive from us the baggage of wisdom , which we received from our ancestors in due time

by Andrea Monda

Return to the roots, to the source. Not for a nostalgic taste, but to move forward, to face life’s challenges. On the third day of his penance, Pope Francis invites us in two clear liturgical moments to reflect on how important, vital, a healthy relationship with one’s past, one’s history is.

In the first moment of Mass celebrated in the morning at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton for the feast of Saints Joachim and Anna, the grandparents of Jesus, the Pope spoke about the grandparents and reminded us of two aspects: the first is that “we are children of a history from to guard. We are not isolated individuals, we are not islands, no one comes into the world independent of others. Our roots, the love that awaited us and that we received when we came into the world, the family environments in which we grew up , is part of a unique history that preceded and created us. We did not choose it, but were given it as a gift; and it is a gift that we are called to keep”. The second is that “besides being children of a history to be preserved, we are craftsmen of a history to be built. […] Our grandparents and our elders wanted to see a fairer, more brotherly and more supportive world, and they fought to give us a future. Now it’s up to us not to let them down. Supported by those who are our roots, it is up to us to bear fruit. We are the branches that will blossom and introduce new seeds into history’. The theme is the roots, the image is that of the tree.

On Monday, in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Edmonton, in front of the altar built on a large log, the Pope had already used this image, speaking of reconciliation and of Jesus who “reconciles us to one another on the cross, the tree of life that they ancient Christians loved to call it. You, dear native brothers and sisters, have much to learn about the vital importance of the tree, which, connected to the earth by its roots, gives oxygen through its leaves and nourishes us with its fruits. And it is beautiful to see the symbolism in the tree represented in the physiognomy of this church, where a trunk connects an altar to the earth, on which Jesus reconciles us in the Eucharist, a “cosmic act of love” that “unites heaven and earth” , embraces and permeates all creation “(Encyclical Lett. laudato si’236) […] it is he who reconciles himself on the cross, composes what seemed unthinkable and unforgivable, embraces everything and everything”.

Even in the speeches of the third day, apparently on other subjects, the central theme of this penitential pilgrimage returns. Speaking of grandparents, the Pope notes that «they have transmitted to us something that can never be erased in us, and at the same time they have given us the opportunity to be unique, original and free people. It was thus precisely from our grandparents that we learned that love is never a limitation, it never deprives the other of his inner freedom’. He speaks to wounded populations precisely because they have gone through a process of erasing their identity, hence the lesson that Francis emphasizes: “Let us try to learn this as individuals and as the Church: never oppress the conscience of the other, never chain the freedom of those who stand before us ».

These restrictions and repressions happened precisely in the place where they should never be, the school. At Monday’s meeting in the Church of the Sacred Heart, the Pope reminded that “education must always start with respect and promotion of the talents that already exist in people. It is not and can never be something ready-made that must be imposed, in order to educate the adventure of exploring and discovering the mystery of life together”. School is precisely the place where past and future meet. And they must always be together, the younger generations cannot be led towards the future by moving and erasing the past. It is the drama that found place in private schools in Canada. A tragic and senseless short circuit. It is like doing without grandparents, or rather “removing them” when you start to grow up. Instead, the Pope shows us the value of a “source”, an inexhaustible source to the devotion that springs from the grandparents from whom we come: “It is at this source that we find comfort in moments of discouragement, light in judgment, courage to meet the challenges of life”. It is the future that promotes the past that get it to re-emerge as a fundamental resource if one has the humble strength to turn to those who have gone before us. The “school” of grandparents cannot fail, for this reason, when the future presents itself urgently and unsettlingly to us, we must «always go back to the school where we learned and lived love. It means, faced with the choices to be made today, to ask ourselves what the wisest elders we have known would do in our place, what our grandparents and great-grandparents would advise us or counsel us ».

Also at the second meeting Tuesday, at Lake Ste. Anne, the Pope spoke about roots and springs: «We are now here, in silence, looking at the water in this lake. It also helps us to return to the sources of faith. In fact, it ideally allows us to walk up to the holy places: to imagine Jesus, who carried out a large part of his ministry right on the shores of a lake, the Sea of ​​Galilee”. The pilgrimage here becomes a journey of imagination. “We can therefore imagine that lake, called the Sea of ​​Galilee, as a condensation of differences: fishermen and tax collectors, centurions and slaves, Pharisees and poor people, men and women of different origins and social backgrounds met on its shores. There, right there , Jesus preached the kingdom of God: not to selected religious people, but to various populations flocking from different parts as today, to all and in a natural theater like this. God chose the multifaceted and heterogeneous context to announce something revolutionary to world […] Thus that very lake, “mixed with diversity,” became the seat of an unprecedented announcement of brotherhood; of a revolution without dead and wounded, of love. And here, on the shores of this lake, the sound of the drums crossing the centuries and uniting different people brings us back to that time. It reminds us that brotherhood is true if it unites those who are far away, that the message of unity that Heaven sends to earth does not fear differences and invites us to fellowship, to start over together because we are all pilgrims on the road.”

All on the road, but as pilgrims, not lords of the world, but people who have received it as a gift and who happily cross it, moved by gratitude for the gift received. And all together: “horizontally” we are contemporaries, different yet brothers and sisters, and “vertically”, with those who preceded us and those who will come after us, ready to receive from us the baggage of wisdom , which we received at that time in the safe and loving “school” of our ancestors.

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