“My grandfather taught me to loathe war”

Alice Topno

Wednesday 23 March the Pope Francis recall his veteran grandfather who taught him to loath war. The pope offered a “personal testimony” during the general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall. His grandfather was a radio operator caught up in fighting in northern Italy during World War I.

“I learned hatred and anger for war from my grandfather, who fought at the Piave in 1914, and he passed on to me this rage at war, because he told me about the suffering of a war,” the pope said, adding that hearing an elderly person tell their life story is a lesson for life. The testimony is more effective and dynamic.

The elder people are the living memory, and the young people and children ought to listen to the grandparents. They leave deep impression in life as the grandfather of pope left the stories of war. Pope Francis expressed concern that “direct, person-to-person storytelling” between generations was dying out because the elderly was considered “waste material.” The elderly person lived a long life and has received a lot of blessing to testimony. They have an specific role to help and give testimony of their life.

The storytelling is the one of the effective ways to communicate and the church have been grown up of storytelling. It passes one generation to next. It is a direct communication. There is no other medium that can replace this. Storytelling is the inclusion of truth, culture, existence, reality.

The faith is passed on in dialect, that is, in familiar speech, between grandparents and grandchildren, between parents and their children. The Pope also said “the dialogue between generations is essential for transmitting the faith”. In fact, he added, young people cannot get their faith solely by studying the catechism, rather they need the concrete example of their grandparents. The elderly people are the teachers of life. They create awareness of life and lead new generation to better life.

The pope Francis establish the world day of grandparents and the elderly in 2021 and encourages them to take an active part in renewing and supporting our societies. To build three pillars: dreams, memory and prayer. An elder in his openness puts life into the hands of the young.  “An old man who has lived a long life and gains the gift of a lucid and impassioned account of his history is an irreplaceable blessing”.

Foto: Alexandro Auler / Getty Images