Grandpa, Grandma and the Eternal

St. Joseph, pray for us. 
Sts. Joachim & Ann, pray for us.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Upon first glance, Sts. Joachim and Ann might seem like odd patrons for an NFP organization, and yet their names are included in the litany of saints we appeal to during morning prayer every day at the CCL office. 

Joachim and Ann are, after all, the parents of the only sinless human and the grandparents of the sinless God-man, Jesus. Very little about them is revealed to us in Scripture, but other ancient texts combine to assure us that they were holy, devoted parents. It’s fair to assume, then, that during whatever parts of their lives overlapped with the life of Christ, they were holy and devoted grandparents as well.

On this national celebration of Grandparent’s Day (this year falling on September 9)  we reflect on the beautiful vocation of grandparenthood, in the life of Jesus as well as our own lives.

To be honest, it’s strange to imagine young Jesus doing grandkid things with Grandpa Joachim and Grandma Ann. But there’s not reason to believe he was deprived of such a basic human joy. After all, theirs was a fishing community. It’s reasonable to picture Jesus escaping to fish alongside grandpa after an exhausting day of carpentry, or going to grandma’s house to talk as they laid the wash to dry in the sun.

We mustn’t underestimate the importance Sts. Joachim and Ann likely had on the Christchild (and Christ as an adult), for so also is the “office” of grandparent, if you will, so very formative for all children lucky enough to enjoy such a relationship.

In holy simplicity, God’s love is reflected in our memories of grandpa and grandma. Their aged wisdom reflects his own timeless omniscience. The capacity of grandparents to have dozens of grandchildren and still make each feel uniquely loved and cherished (often with personalized traditions and silly little rituals) is all the greater in our God. Grandparents are full of stories, lessons, and adages that make this complex world seem a little simpler and more digestible. God’s unsolicited extravagance is reflected in the third heaping pile of grandma’s famous mashed potatoes as it plops on your plate and mumbles something under her breath about “skin and bones.”

But perhaps most clear and important of all is the grand-parental reflection of God’s simple delight and unconditional love. Especially early on, children need constant and unfailing affirmation and affection. Parents, tasked with discipline, can’t always affirm their children in a way that the kids perceive as positive. Grandparents, however, have the freedom to be the family members that seem to “overlook” the negative traits of the youngsters and offer that coveted unconditional affection in an easily understandable way. It’s not that parental love is somehow more conditional than that of grandparents, but simply that grandparents are uniquely positioned to make that unconditional love all the more clear and real to the children.

In this way, grandparents instill in their grandchildren a sense of the eternal. For sinless Mary, God-man Jesus, and all the more for the rest of us, what could be a more valuable lesson than that?

— CCL Staff Member