Pope Francis says "Do not forget, may young people speak with their grandparents, may the young speak with the old, may the old speak with the young...May the Lord help us, doing this, to grow in harmony with families..." FULL TEXT


St Peter's Square - Wednesday, 27 April 2022

 Catechesis on Old Age - Naomi, the alliance between the generations that opens up the future

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!

Today we will continue to reflect on the elderly, on grandparents, on old age – the word seems ugly but no, the elderly are great, they are beautiful! And today we will let ourselves be inspired by the splendid book of Ruth, a jewel of the Bible. The parable of Ruth sheds light on the beauty of family bonds: generated by the relationship of a couple, but which go beyond it. Bonds of love capable of being equally strong, in which the perfection of that polyhedron of fundamental affections that make up the family grammar of love shines. This grammar brings vital lymph and generative wisdom to the set of relationships that build up the community. With regard to the Canticle of Canticles, the Book of Ruth is like the other panel in the diptych of nuptial love. Just as important, just as essential, it indeed celebrates the power and the poetry that must inhabit the bonds of generation, kinship, devotion and fidelity that involve the entire family constellation. And which even become capable, in the dramatic conjunctures in the life of a couple, of bringing an unimaginable power of love, able to relaunch hope and the future.


 We know that clichés about the bonds of kinship created by marriage, especially that of the mother-in-law, the relationship between mother- and daughter-in-law, speak against this perspective. But, precisely for this reason, the word of God becomes precious. The inspiration of faith can open up a horizon of witness that counters the most common prejudices, a horizon that is precious for the entire human community. I invite you to rediscover the book of Ruth! Especially in the meditation on love and in catechesis on the family.

This short book also contains valuable teaching on the alliance of the generations: where youth reveals itself to be capable of restoring enthusiasm to mature age – thisis essential: when youth restores enthusiasm to the elderly – and where old age discovers it is capable of reopening the future to wounded youth. At the beginning, the elderly Naomi, although moved by the affection of her daughters-in-law, widowed by her two sons, is pessimistic with regard to their destiny within a population that is not their own. She therefore affectionately encourages the young women to return to their families to rebuild their lives – these widows were young. She says, “I can do nothing for you”. This already appears to be an act of love: the elderly woman, without a husband and without her sons, insists that her daughters-in-law abandon her. However, it is also a sort of resignation: there is no possible future for the foreign widows, without the protection of a husband. Ruth knows this, and resists this generous offer – she does not want to go home. The bond established between mother- and daughter-in-law was blessed by God: Naomi cannot ask to be abandoned. At first, Naomi appears more resigned than happy about this offer: perhaps she thinks that this strange bond will aggravate the risk for both of them. In some cases, the tendency of the elderly towards pessimism needs to be countered by the affectionate pressure of the young.

Indeed, Naomi, moved by Ruth’s devotion, will emerge from her pessimism and even take the initiative, opening up a new future for Ruth. She instructs and encourages Ruth, her son’s widow, to win a new husband in Israel. Boaz, the candidate, shows his nobility, defending Ruth from the men in his employ. Unfortunately, this is a risk that still exists today.

Ruth’s new marriage is celebrated and the worlds are again pacified. The women of Israel tell Naomi that Ruth, the foreigner, is worth “more than seven sons” and that the marriage will be a “blessing of the Lord”. Naomi, who was full of bitterness and even said that her name was bitterness, in her old age, will know the joy of having a part in the generation of a new birth. Look how many “miracles” accompany the conversion of this elderly woman! She converts to the commitment of making herself available, with love, for the future of a generation wounded by loss and at risk of abandonment. The points of reconstruction are those that, on the basis of the probability drawn by commonplace prejudices, ought to generate insuperable fractures. Instead, faith and love enable them to be overcome: the mother-in-law overcomes her jealousy for her own son, loving Ruth’s new bond; the women of Israel overcome their distrust of the foreigner (and if women will do it, everyone will); the vulnerability of the lone girl, faced with male power, is reconciled with a bond full of love and respect.

And all this because the young Ruth is obstinate in her fidelity to a bond exposed to ethnic and religious prejudice. And I return to what I said at the beginning – today the mother-in-law is a mythical figure: I won’t say that we think of. the mother-in-law as the devil but she is always thought of as an unpleasant figure. But the mother-in-law is the mother of your husband, she is the mother of your wife. Let us think today about this rather widespread feeling that the farther away the mother-in-law is, the better. No! She is a mother, she is elderly. One of the most beautiful things about grandmothers is seeing the grandchildren – when their children have children of their own, they come alive again. Look closely at the relationship you have with your mothers-in-law: at times they are a bit special, but they have been the mother to your spouse, they have given you everything. We should at least make them happy, so that they go forth into their old age with joy. And if they have some fault, we should help them to correct it. And to you, mothers-in-law, I say: be careful with your tongue, because its misuse is one of the worst sins of mothers-in-law. Be careful.

And Ruth, in this book, accepts her mother-in-law and makes her come alive again, and the elderly Naomi takes the initiative of reopening the future for Ruth, instead of limiting herself to enjoying her support. If the young open themselves to gratitude for what they have received, and the elderly take the initiative of relaunching their future, nothing can stop the flourishing of God’s blessings among peoples! Do not forget, may young people speak with their grandparents, may the young speak with the old, may the old speak with the young. This bridge must be rebuilt in a strong way – there is a current of salvation, of happiness there. May the Lord help us, doing this, to grow in harmony with families, that constructive harmony that goes from the oldest to the youngest, that beautiful bridge that we must protect and safeguard.


Special Greetings:

Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins des pays francophones, spécialement les Séminaristes de Rennes et Toulouse, les jeunes venus de France et de Suisse, en particulier la pastorale des jeunes du diocèse de Lyon, et les Confirmés de Friborg. En ce moment difficile où l'humanité a soif de paix et de fraternité, il est urgent que alliance entre les personnes âgées et les jeunes soit féconde et conduise chacun, dans son état de vie, à être témoin et médiateur des bénédictions de Dieu entre les peuples. A vous tous, but Bénédiction!

I am pleased to greet the pilgrims from the French-speaking countries, in a special way the Seminarians of Rennes and Toulouse, the young people of France and Switzerland, in particular the youth ministry of the diocese of Lyon, and the confirmations of Friborg. In this difficult moment in which humanity is thirsting for peace and fraternity, it is urgent that the covenant between the elderly and the young be fruitful and lead each, in his or her state of life, to be a witness and mediator of God's blessings among the peoples. To all of you, my Blessing! ]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today's Audience, especially those from England, Denmark and the United States of America. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you!

Von Herzen grüße ich die Pilger deutscher Sprache. In den Evangelien dieser österlichen Tage hören wir vielfach, wie der Auferstandene sich den unterschiedlichsten Menschen zeigt und ihnen neue Hoffnung und neues Leben schenkt. Ich wünsche auch euch die Erfahrung seiner lebendigen und neu belebenden Gegenwart of him!

I warmly greet the German-speaking pilgrims. In the Gospels of this Easter season we often hear how the Risen Lord appears to the most diverse people, giving them new hope and new life. I also wish you the experience of his presence alive and revitalizing him! ]

I cordially greet los peregrinos de lengua española. Los animo a ver los milagros that se producen en this short episode ya intentar sacar una lección para nuestra vida. Aprendamos de Noemí to recover el ánimo ya estar disponibles para recomponer las heridas de los jóvenes que necesitan nuestro apoyo. De this way, we will overcome the barreras of the desconfianza and reconstruiremos vínculos de amor and respeto en la sociedad. Que el Señor los bendiga. Muchas gracias.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa: Peço-vos que persevereis na oração incessante pela paz. Calem-se as armas, a fim de que aqueles que detém or poder de parar a guerra, escutem or clamor da humanidade inteira por paz! Que Deus vos abençoe!

Dear Portuguese-speaking pilgrims: I ask you to persevere in unceasing prayer for peace. Let the weapons be silent, so that those who have the power to stop the war, may hear the cry of peace of all humanity! God bless you! ]

أُحَيِّي المؤمِنينَ الناطِقينَ باللغَةِ العربِيَّة. إذ█ نفنفHIح AND fightchiشakedّبash ّب█ ع█ى ا ا ANDI ِم█ ، وXHI و█رWE كِب AND كِب█ ا اHI وXI و█سX في صُنعِ مُست مُستXI مُستXI ، ، فKI شXI يُمكِنُ أنْ أنْ يُوقِفHI زدِهHI α بXHIOرHI. باركَكُم الرَّبُّ جَميعًا وحَماكُم دائِمًا مِن كُلِّ شَرّ!

I greet the Arabic-speaking faithful. If the young are open to gratitude for what they have received and the old take the initiative to relaunch their future, nothing can stop the flowering of God's blessings among the peoples! The Lord bless you all and always protect you from all evil! ]

Pozdrawiam serdecznie Polaków, szczególnie pielgrzymów z Archidiecezji łódzkiej, którzy wraz ze swoimi pasterzami dziękują Bogu za sto lat istnienia swojej diecezji. Pozdrawiam również wiernych z polskiej parafii z Anglii ze Swindon oraz z Gdyni, z bazyliki NMP Królowej Polski. Po Audiencji poświęcę korony, którymi zostanie ozdobiony znajdujący się w tej świątyni obraz Matki Bożej. Dzisiaj, w 8. rocznicę kanonizacji św. Jana Pawła II prośmy przez jego wstawiennictwo, byśmy byli wiernymi świadkami Chrystusa, Jego miłosiernej miłości - w świecie, w rodzinie iw miejscach pracy. Wszystkim Wam z serca błogosławię!

I cordially greet the Poles, especially the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Łódź, who, together with their pastors, thank God for the centenary of their Diocese. I also greet the faithful from the Polish parish of Swindon, England, and from the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Queen of Poland in Gdynia. After the Audience I will bless the crowns, with which the image of the Madonna that is in this church will be adorned. Today, on the eighth anniversary of the canonization of Saint John Paul II, through his intercession, we ask to be faithful witnesses of Christ and of his merciful love in the world, in the family and in the workplace. I bless you all from my heart! ]

Radosno pozdravljam hrvatske hodočasnike, a posebno delegaciju Ministarstva Obrane Republike Hrvatske, zajedno s gospodinom ministrom i ostalim dužnosnicima Oružanih snaga i Vojnog učilišta, k bisji zajhjd Dragi prijatelji, svakodnevni susret i hod s Uskrslim Gospodinom neka vam ražari srca, kako biste oduševljeno svjedočili svoju vjeru i naviještali silna Božja djela kao istinski mirotvorci u društvu sv. Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

I greet with joy the Croatian pilgrims, in particular the delegation of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia, together with the Minister and the other officers of the General Staff and the Military Academy, as well as the officers of the Military Ordinariate accompanied by their Bishop . Dear friends, may the daily encounter and journey with the risen Lord burn your hearts so that, with enthusiasm, you may bear witness to the faith and proclaim the great works of God, as true peacemakers in society and in the world. Praised be Jesus and Mary! ]

* * *

I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the Sisters of the Company of Mary Our Lady, the Poor Clare Nuns of Anagni, the Sanitary Company of Napoli 3 Sud, the Elba Island Football Club: they will win the championship! I extend a special thought to the faithful of Vignale Monferrato, accompanied by the Bishop, and I renew my gratitude for what they have done in favor of the terminally ill young man from Ghana. Thanks!

Finally, as usual, my thoughts go to the elderly, the sick, the young and the newlyweds. In this Easter period, which invites us to meditate on the mystery of Christ's Resurrection, may the glory of the Lord be a source of new energy for each one on the path to salvation. Help you, young people, to faithfully follow the Gospel; support you, the elderly and the sick, to move forward with trust and hope; and guide you, newlyweds, to found solid families in the sign of the Gospel truth.


I would like to tell you something. I beg your pardon if I greet you while sitting, because this knee is not healing yet and I cannot stand for a long time. Excuse me for this. Thanks.