Tag Archives: grandparents

6 March, Lenten Reading: ordinary, decent people

Windswept Barley, Kent.

The book of Ruth is a short read, a comfort read, at least by the time you reach the happy ending. Ruth, of course, is the 30x great grandmother of Egypt, her adventures with her mother-in-law Naomi part of his family history. And she was a foreigner, not a member of the people of Israel, but still one of the people of God.

This article by Fr Richard J Clifford, is from America magazine: The Book of Ruth reminds us to take seriously the lives of ordinary people. Read them in either order, and take more seriously your own life, and those of people around you. A good Lenten exercise!

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October 14, Going Viral XLVIII: heard in passing

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Scraps of conversation heard in passing can be instructive.

  • the students are back in town. I’ve no reason to believe these two young women are representative of anyone but themselves: ‘Yes, but we need to get our drinking in before we go out’.
  • The electric invalid buggy was parked at a sharp angle because the rider was taking a call on his phone: ‘I’m not that good a grandad. But it’s good to hear your voice, thanks for ringing, much appreciated, thank you, Good bye.’
  • A widowed neighbour, after a friend had helped with advice: ‘Thank you for taking time to help me. I do appreciate that. It means a lot.’

Street near Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

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22 December: the hidden work of incarnation.

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The process by which the human personality is formed is the hidden work of incarnation.

The helpless infant is an enigma. The only thing we know about him is that he is an enigma, but nobody knows what he will be or what he will do. His helpless body contains the most complex mechanism of any living creature, but it is distinctly his own.

Man belongs to himself, and his special will furthers the work of incarnation. 

Maria Montessori, The Child in the Family, London, Pan, 1970, pp32-33.

Do we accept that there is more to being human than flesh and blood? That there is a will, soul or spirit animating each one of us?

We could say that parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers are charged with enabling the work of incarnation to take place in the child; not to break the child’s will but to provide a fertile ground for it to grow.

Of course we refer to the Incarnation especially in regard to Jesus. His humanity was shaped in his relationship with Mary and Joseph; we have to thank them for their part in his development, his incarnation.

In this statue from the church of Our Lord in the Attic, Amsterdam, Mary is supporting her Son as he reaches out into the world, to you and to me. Let us pray for the grace to perceive how to support the children we live and work with.

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26 July: Saints Anne and Joachim; grandparents matter!

 

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Statue of Saint Joachim, Holy Name Church, Manchester.

An extra post today – a Pastoral Letter about grandparents from Bishop Mark O’Toole of Plymouth. 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On the 26th July we keep the memory of Jesus’ grandparents, St Joachim and St Ann. It is good to know that Jesus lived within a family and to reflect on the reality that he knew the influence and presence of an older generation. In light of this, I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you about the importance of grandparents, both for us personally and in the life of faith.

I know that many of you have grandchildren and play an important part in their lives. Many of us are grateful for the sacrifice and generosity we experienced in our grandparents and thank God for them, living or dead.

I want also to thank those of you who are grandparents, for what you do in passing on the faith within your own family. As I have visited the Diocese, celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation these past weeks, it has been good to meet some of our young people and to hear them speak so positively of the importance of their grandparents. They look up to you, and are grateful to you for your support and love for them. They know that for you, our Catholic faith is vital. Many want to deepen that faith, in their own lives.

In his recent letter to young people, titled ‘Christ is Alive’ (Christus Vivit), Pope Francis speaks of the importance of dialogue between the different generations. He reminds us that “helping the young to discover the living richness of the past, to treasure its memory and to make use of it for their choices and opportunities, is a genuine act of love towards them, for the sake of their growth and the decisions they are called to make”.[102]

He says that it is not good if there is “a rupture between generations” (Par 191). This is sometimes presented to us by our society but it is a lie for it would have us believe that only what is new is good and beautiful. Our experience in the Church is much richer. We know there a wisdom passed down from generation to generation, “familiar with human weakness and not deserving to vanish before the novelties of consumer society and the market (Par 190).”

Whilst at the Synod in Rome, for young people, in October, I was reminded of the humorous saying of Pope Saint John XXIII, “The young need to remember that the world existed before them, and those who are older that the world will continue to exist after them!”

So, to our young I say, ‘continue to cherish your grandparents and learn from them what it means to love and to live a life of faith’. To our grandparents, I say, ‘thank you for your fidelity and generosity. Do continue to witness to the Lord, and to the beauty of our faith, both within your own family and to the people around you.’

In the Gospel today, we see in St Mary and St Martha, two essential dimensions of our faith – prayer and action. All of us need to hold on to both of these. In rooting our lives in a personal encounter with Jesus, may we each be of service to our loved ones and to our neighbours. May each of us, young and old, deepen our faith in the Lord, and in the company of the Church, bring others to Him.

Pray for me.

Yours devotedly,

+ Mark, Bishop of Plymouth

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24 May: C is for Canterbury

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Or even ‘H is for Home’. This city has become home as nowhere else in my life, now I’ve spent more than half my days here. Here are the streets where my students have lived, the schools, community centres, libraries and halls where I’ve taught them anything from the basics of maths and English to art, cookery or even simple motor mechanics. Here is the court where I’ve supported students, the chip shop where more than one has greeted me, years after our lessons ceased …

… but here too, closer to my heart, is a family home of thirty years, infused with memories: three generations of Turnstones have made their mark – young Abel too! He had best watch out, though granddad heard about it when felt pen strayed onto the table surface! Remember too that the previous generation, our children’s grandparents were frequent visitors and remain part of the fabric of their growing up in this place.

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Canterbury is special, even if the city centre is increasingly given over to big business rather than small, let alone to worship. Even the signposts all through the town are in the corporate style of the Whitefriars’ shopping centre. And despite the continuous noise of traffic, and the fumes that poison the air, it has been a good place to raise a family. There is still green space. And we do have access to the cathedral and the deep silence of centuries of prayer.

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We may whinge about the busloads of continental teenagers spilling out of the pound shops, but we’ll miss them when they stop coming. Regimented private schools may be well-behaved, but lack their vitality.

We’ll also miss the Franciscans when they close the Study Centre and leave Greyfriars chapel this summer, but this is home, its churches, shops, level crossings and traffic queues, old friends and acquaintances, and corners unvisited except when friends stop by. I guess we’re here while the next generation are based hereabouts; this is home.

WT.

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July 26: The Parents of Mary, Saints Joachim and Anne.

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The Gospels tell us nothing at all about Mary’s parents, Jesus’ grandparents. Were they still living when Jesus was born, did they get to play with him as a baby? Perhaps not, if the Holy Family had to stay in Egypt for any length of time. Mary would surely have welcomed another pair of hands around the house, while her parents would have been anxious all the time the Holy Family spent in exile.

 

They were real people, even if we do not know their names for sure. The traditional names of Joachim and Anne first appear in the Second Century. The Missionaries of Africa look after the Basilica of Saint Anne in Jerusalem, built on the traditional site of their home. It is now a house of studies and retreat where pilgrims are welcomed to the church dating back to Crusader times.

 

Anne is the more celebrated of this couple. I don’t ever remember seeing a statue of Saint Joachim, though the happy couple are celebrated in icons and Anne is often shown teaching Mary to read. But then, last week, on a visit to Manchester, I found him at Holy Name Church. He appears as an old man with a beard wilder than my own. (Maybe Anne was less assertive than my wife.) And he carries a basket and two doves: we think of the two doves offered by Joseph and Mary when Jesus was taken to the Temple as a baby. (Luke 2:24) But perhaps we should remember the deserved reputation doves have for ‘billing and cooing’ – unabashedly showering affection upon each other all through the day. Those doves could stand for Joachim and Anne and for all married couples.

 

I was happy to learn, from the note beside Joachim’s statue, that he is the patron of grandfathers. I can live with a patron whose beard and hair are something to aspire to! And I can try to live up to the standards of care lavished on his grandson as well as the way he must have supported Mary and Joseph through those difficult months of pregnancy and maybe too their time as refugees. Fun though it is, grandparenting is serious work, God’s work, and mostly in the background.

WT.

 

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March 12th: Loving Memory: II

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Today I remember my grandmother, Mary Louise, whose 111th birthday it would have been. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

Although she brought me up, she kept to herself. Towards the end of her life she developed Alzheimer’s, by the grace of God in a happy form, meaning that she did not have to wait until death for respite from the hardship that characterised her adult years. Instead, with the help of an excellent care home she spent her last five years transported back to the happiness of her youth in Chestnut Hill, Boston, surrounded by friends and family and dressing for dinner every night.

Prior to the Alzheimer’s she’d jealously guarded the few personal possessions she’d manage to hold onto. But at the end all that was left was a battered suitcase with odd pieces of linen and clothing. And one page of the bible that she’d kept with her since childhood. Not that she ever went to church, or showed any interest in religion; far from it. But she treasured that bible. The page I found was Psalm 139. Given my own love for that psalm, its presence spoke more far eloquently than we had ever spoken in a more conventional idiom.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

MLT

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March 11 Love in the Spirit of Silence

 

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Today I remember my grandfather Alexander Victor, whose 115th birthday it would have been. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Had he lived to see it, Pop would initially have been profoundly discombobulated at the thought of my becoming Catholic, since he regarded Catholicism as equivalent to treason. But since he always wanted what was best for me, he would have wrapped his head around it and in the process undergone a change of mind.

Together with his wife, he brought me up. His eyes were brilliant blue, bluer than any others I’ve ever seen. While he had fond memories of childhood holidays in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, his favourite place was Dartmoor, where he used to go for long walks. We loved each other deeply. He was deaf, and because in those days hearing aids weren’t that good, plus he didn’t like wearing one, we didn’t speak much, and never more than a few words. But our rapport meant that the impossibility of verbal converse promoted a deeper form of communication, one whose roots in silence were as deep as the blue of his eyes and whose tokens were the countless glances of solicitude we exchanged during the course of a day and the kiss he gave me every night before he went to bed while I lay pretending to be asleep.

MLT.

 

 

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