I’m not a grandparent, but I’ve spent a lot of time observing grandparents over the years – my own and other people’s. I’ve decided it’s a pretty good gig: you get lots of time and cuddles from your grandchildren when they’re little, and when they get cranky you can hand them back! As they grow up, you develop a one-of-a-kind relationship, building on your love and hopes for them.
For many Catholics today, the role comes with an extra responsibility: sharing the faith. What a gift to hand down! As David Dayler says in his engaging book Sharing Our Story: How Grandparents Today Pass on the Catholic Faith:
I feel that I and other grandparents have a responsibility to share our faith and support our families as they face the challenges of living their faith in this crazy, mixed-up, wonderful world. Although every generation faces similar struggles and challenges when it comes to balancing the secular world with their faith, I feel that the challenges today are heightened because of the changing dynamic of the family, the rampant growth of technology and social media, and the extra pressure from the secular world telling families how they must live and what they must have to live happy and fulfilling lives.
When it comes to grandparents (biological and otherwise) as faith mentors, we can find many of them taking on active roles with their grandkids in our parish communities: helping a child follow along with the readings or hymns, comforting a little one who is upset during Mass, volunteering to help with sacramental preparation, working alongside a young person on parish clean-up day, or serving food to hungry teens on parish pizza night. And behind the scenes, you know that countless grandparents are busy sharing our faith story with their grandchildren, answering questions about God and love and sorrow and life, teaching traditional prayers (and praying with and for their grandkids), and generally pointing the way for the younger generation.
Happy Grandparents’ Day to all the amazing grandparents out there who are keeping the faith and passing it on!
–Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor