Archbishop Eamon Martin has welcomed Pope Francis’ message for the 54th World Day of Social Communications which will be celebrated on Sunday – the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. The theme of Pope Francis’ annual message for this year reflects on the power of storytelling: ‘That you may tell your children and grandchildren’ (Ex 10:2).
Archbishop Eamon said, “During this time of COVID19 restrictions, many grandparents have mentioned how much they miss the physical company and affection of their grandchildren – especially their hugs! The relationship between the generations is a favorite theme of Pope Francis which he reiterates in his communications message for 2020. The Pope often speaks of the bond that exists between younger and older people and for his communications message this year he particularly focuses on the importance of sharing stories across the generations.
“The theme of Pope Francis’ message reminds us that ‘from childhood, we hunger for stories … stories influence our lives … [although] not all stories are good stories’. By choosing his theme from the Book of Exodus, the Holy Father underpins how memories and storytelling are precious in our lives and in all the best communications. The telling of stories – inspired by faith, hope, and love – is also hugely significant in the handing on of faith from generation to generation.
“When I attended the Youth Synod in Rome in 2018, Pope Francis surprised us by hosting an evening when young and older people who came together to learn from each other and at which he launched Sharing the Wisdom of Time. In the preface he says ‘the Lord wants me to say: that there should be an alliance between the young and old people.’ The Pope explains that this cooperation entails sharing experiences of older people, heeding their advice and creating a strong bond with the new generations who are hungry for guidance and support as they prepare for their future. This spirit is exemplified in this year’s communications message:
‘In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated … we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true, and good stories. We need courage to reject false and evil stories. We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles. We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life.’
“Encouraged by Pope Francis, this weekend I invite grandparents and grandchildren to share their own stories – over the phone, on social media or video call – of how they are coping during this coronavirus crisis. Perhaps young people could record and capture this moment for the future. In years to come, when we look back on 2020, we will be sharing with future generations the story of how the world had to pause, to stand still. Hopefully we will be able to relate the things that we learned from this pandemic experience. Perhaps we will speak of ‘2020 vision’ in a new way, that 2020 was the year we learned to appreciate more each other – our family, our elderly, our friendships, our front-line workers, our clergy – and all because we had to spend some time apart.
Archbishop Eamon concluded, “I strongly encourage everyone to read this year’s uplifting Communications Day message by Pope Francis and to reflect on the power of ‘the story’ in our own journey, and on those around us, especially during this restricted period. As Pope Francis says, ‘The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely. It shows us that God was so deeply concerned for mankind, for our flesh and our history, to the point that he became man, flesh, and history. It also tells us that no human stories are insignificant or paltry.’”
Notes for Editors
- Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore, Primate of All Ireland, and chair of the Council for Communications of the Bishops’ Conference. Parish Resources, including the full text of the Holy Father’s 2020 message for World Communications Day, are available on catholicbishops.ie
- The World Day of Social Communications is the only World Day established by the Second Vatican Council. In 1963 the Council issued the Decree on the tools of social communication, Inter mirifica, which included the proposal that the Church celebrate a day dedicated to social communications. The first World Communications Day was observed on 7 May 1967, under the pontificate of Saint Pope Paul VI, who drew attention to the communications media and its enormous potential for cultural transformation.
- In 2008 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote a special Prayer for Grandparents (see below) which was unveiled in Ireland that year at our own National Grandparents Pilgrimage in Knock. This prayer has been promoted in many countries by the Catholic Grandparents Association, which began in Ireland, and has since spread throughout the world. The Association’s mission has always held dear the key theme of today’s World Communications Day message, namely, to help pass on the faith to the younger generations through memory and storytelling:
The 2008 Prayer for Grandparents written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:
you were born of the Virgin Mary,
the daughter of Saints Joachim and Anne.
Look with love on grandparents the world over.
Protect them! They are a source of enrichment for families, for the Church and for all of society.
Support them! As they grow older,
may they continue to be for their families strong pillars of Gospel faith, guardian of noble domestic ideals, living treasuries of sound religious traditions.
Make them teachers of wisdom and courage, that they may pass on to future generations the fruits of their mature human and spiritual experience.
help families and society
to value the presence and roles of grandparents.
May they never be ignored or excluded,
but always encounter respect and love.
Help them to live serenely and to feel welcomed in all the years of life which you give them.
Mary, Mother of all the living,
keep grandparents constantly in your care, accompany them on their earthly pilgrimage, and by your prayers, grant that all families may one day be reunited in our heavenly homeland, where you await all humanity for the great embrace of live without end.
Missing You – a prayer for grandparents and grandchildren on missing each other
I am missing their tiny hands in mine
I miss their wrinkles and their smile
I am missing their visits and our weekly walks
I miss their voice and our face to face talks
I am missing hearing all about their day
I miss them showing me the way
I am missing hugs and kisses
I miss sharing fun and wishes
I am missing tucking them in on sleepovers
I miss story time snuggled under the covers
I am missing joining our hands in prayer
I miss just having them there
I am missing seeing them grow
I miss them sharing all the things they know
I am missing the rites of passage that have passed
I miss them being with us at Mass
I am missing the grandchildren’s ring on the door bell
I miss granny and grandad and hope they are well.
I am missing their presence day and night,
I miss my grandparents, my guiding light.
Please bless my grandchildren,
and keep them safe and sound.
Pease mind granny and grandad
until we can have them around.
Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore and Primate of All Ireland.