Celebrating Wisdom and Love

In golfing terms, a mulligan is a 'do-over', which is a second try after your first has gone awry. It is hoped that whatever went wrong on the first swipe of the ball can be corrected the second time. As I write to you, I am at the stage of my life where I am having a mulligan when it comes to parenting. Being a grandparent to Sebastian and Lily is providing me infinite joy in itself, but also the opportunity to get a few things right that I mucked up first time around.

Since I last wrote to you, the Church has celebrated Grandparents' Day. When Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly on 25 July, he was elevating a theme that he has sought to promote since his  inauguration homily as Pope in 2013, when he said one of the duties of being a Christian is protecting the elderly.

Earlier this year on 31 January when  he announced the establishment of the special day, Francis said, "The Holy Spirit still stirs up thoughts and words of wisdom in the elderly today."

"Their voice is precious because it sings the praises of God and safeguards the roots of peoples," he continued. "They remind us that old age is a gift and that grandparents are the link between generations, passing on the experience of life and faith to the young."

The World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly is to be celebrated every year on the fourth Sunday of July on the feast of Saints. Joachim and Anne, Jesus' grandparents.

On Wednesday this week, Antonella and I were guests of Lily's preschool class at their Grandparents' Mass and Morning Tea. It was a beautiful affair made even more special by Father Don Kettle's Homily. Father shared a story written by a little boy which, although child-like in its form and language, nailed the importance and value of grandparents in the raising and forming of their grandchildren.

One time, children were asked to write an essay about a special person in their life. One eight-year-old decided to write about his Grandma. This is what he wrote:
"A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own, so she likes other people's boys and girls. Grandmas don't have anything to do except be there. If they take us for walks, they slow down past pretty leaves and caterpillars. They never say, 'Hurry up.' Usually, they are fat but not too fat to tie shoes. They wear glasses, and sometimes they can take their teeth out. They can answer questions like why dogs hate cats and why God isn't married. They don't talk like visitors do which is hard to understand. When they read to us, they don't skip words or mind if it is the same story again. Everybody should try to have a Grandma, especially if you don't have TV, because Grandmas are the only grownups who always have time."

The importance of grandparents in a child's life is undeniable. I would like to share an article that explains why and what the experts have to say about it that is well worth a read.

What is so invaluable in a Faith Community is that grandparents can often have more cut-through on matters of faith and values formation. Parents can sometimes be seen as 'the enemy' by their children, but grandparents are almost always revered. I often say to the young men of CBC: "Would you do that at Grandma's house?", or "Would you use that language (whether it be online or in presence) in front of Grandma or Grandad?" and "What would your grandparents say if they were here in the office with us?" The answers I get are universally the ones I would expect, and the grandparent yardstick seems to have more gravitas that the parents. It must be all those treats!

What is so invaluable in a Faith Community is that grandparents can often have more cut-through on matters of faith and values formation. Parents can sometimes be seen as 'the enemy' by their children, but grandparents are almost always revered.

I wasn't a very good father when my children were young. Time-poor, wrong priorities (even though I got down to a four handicap), too heavy-handed and the air guitar I bought my son every Christmas ceased to be appreciated by the fourth iteration. Thankfully my beautiful wife filled the breach. It appears Rosie has learned what not to do by my example, and she and her husband Adrian have my profound admiration for the way they are raising my grandkids. Now in the sunset of my years, I am trying to make up for the mistakes of the past and I guess that's what makes the importance of grandparents so great. Legacy becomes an over-riding motivator.

Now I am aware that many of our boys do not have grandparents close by, or even at all. I hope in those situations, there is another old soul providing that wisdom and love for your sons. Whichever is the case for you, I respectfully ask that your parents find time to sit with your sons to ask them about their school, about their progress towards being the CBC gentleman we all hope our boys become, to talk about their  behaviour online, on weekends, at parties and their practicing of the values that are held dear by those same elders and which are so 'un-present' in secular culture. It's a bit like King Canute holding back the mighty tide, but if anyone will succeed, it will most likely be the grandparents (or grandparents in loco).

To all the grandparents, and those who play the role, God Bless you. You are pivotal to the successful formation of your grandchildren and perfectly placed to support the efforts of your children. Cent'anni!

God bless,

Mr Domenic Burgio