COVENANT OF LOVE IN TIMES OF CORONAVIRUS, Maria Fischer with Pilar de Beas •
“They copied us,” says Pilar de Beas upon learning of the campaign launched by the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life. Following the words of Pope Francis after the Angelus on July 26th, the dicastery launched the campaign “The elderly are your grandparents” to invite young people throughout the world to make a gesture of tenderness towards elderly people who feel lonely, because “every elderly is your grandfather or grandmother and they need you!” —
The Shema project, “to call” in Hebrew, initiated by Pilar de Beas from the Family Federation of Spain at the beginning of the pandemic, seeks to alleviate the loneliness of the elderly, protected by health and social distancing measures because they are a risk group, but thus they are even more alone than before. With a large number of volunteers they called elderly from a parish in Valladolid, with enormous fidelity. “The only new thing is that we have seen that the confinement of the elderly goes beyond that,” says Pilar. “There are many elderly who are completely alone and the calls have changed their lives, they feel much more accompanied and happy. The other day, a lady sent me a photo asking me if when I return to Madrid, we could meet personally… And she told me that, crying with emotion and gratitude… “.
With the inventiveness of love –#sendyourhug
The dicastery’s press release reads:
In recent months many Episcopal Conferences, associations and individuals have been using “the inventiveness of love” to find ways to bring the ecclesial community closer to the elderly who are lonely. We have received news of contacts being made via telephone, internet and social networks, and even of serenades to the residents of retirement homes. Young people have been doing this to help alleviate the loneliness being felt by many people who are obliged by the pandemic to stay at home or remain confined in residential care facilities.
In this phase of the campaign, in order to respect the health regulations in force in different countries, our invitation to young people is to reach out to the loneliest elderly people in their neighbourhood or parish and send them a hug, according to the request of the Pope, by means of a phone call, a video call or by sending an image. Wherever possible − or whenever the health emergency will allow it − we invite young people to make the embrace even more concrete by visiting elderly in person.
The campaign is associated with the hashtag #sendyourhug in order to disseminate the initiative. The most significant posts will be circulated on the social media of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life @laityfamilylife.
We hope that this campaign can help to achieve a dream expressed by Pope Francis when he wrote “Here is what I would like: a world that experiences a renewed embrace between young and old (Preface of the book “The Wisdom of Time”)”.
A day of encounter
“On September 26, if the COVID-19 allows us, all the volunteers and ladies who can, will go to the little town of Valladolid where it all began. There we will have a large Mass, we will invite the bishop and we will have a meal with everyone. It ‘ll be a great day to get to know each other in person”.
But Pilar de Beas is already thinking “beyond the calls”:
“The truth is that if this volunteering stays only in ‘calls’ it would be a shame. The links and personal contact must be the result of everything.”
The message of Pope Francis (Angelus, 26.07.2020)
On the memorial of the Saints Joachim and Anne, Jesus “grandparents”, I would like to invite the young to perform a gesture of tenderness towards the elderly, especially the loneliest, in their homes and residences, those who have not seen their loved ones for many months.
Dear young people, each one of these elderly people is your grandparent! Do not leave them by themselves. Use the inventiveness of love, make telephone calls, video calls, send messages, listen to them and, where possible, in compliance with the healthcare rules, go to visit them too. Send them a hug.
They are your roots. An uprooted tree cannot grow, it does not blossom or bear fruit. This is why the bond and connection with your roots is important. “The blossom of a tree comes from what it has underground”, says a poet from my homeland. Therefore I invite you to give a big round of applause for our grandparents, everyone!
Original: Spanish 2020-08-01, translated by Maria Aragón, Monterrey, México