St. Anne, grandmother of Jesus, is a model for all grandparents

A statue of St. Anne is seen outside Ste. Anne Church in southwest Detroit in this Detroit Catholic file photo. On July 25 and 26, the Archdiocese of Detroit will celebrate the feast day of the grandmother of Jesus and patroness of the local Church. (Dan Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

Next week, all are invited to join in celebrating the feast of St. Anne, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Detroit, as we set about the task of unleashing the Gospel. 

We will ask St. Anne, whose feast day is July 26, to especially intercede for our grandparents, who deserve our appreciation and support as they witness the faith to generations of family. As the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus, St. Anne is in a unique position to be an intercessor for our grandparents.

Fostering faith in generations of family is a great and often challenging vocation; St. Anne’s prayerful intercession can help us all attain the salvation God has promised, and we can ask with confidence, for God is faithful (cf. Collect, Mass for the Feast of St. Anne).  

In his homily celebrating the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John of Damascus salutes St. Anne by exclaiming that “all creation is indebted” to her, because by cooperating with God, she “achieved … something that transcends nature in giving the world the Virgin Mother of God.” And through this Virgin Mother, God’s Son — Jesus — was born among humanity so that humanity might itself be born again (cf. Prayer After Communion, Mass for the Feast of St. Anne).

We can see that St. Anne, in her vocation as a parent and grandparent, cares deeply about family — her own and that of the whole human family. Her faith in God fashioned the environment in which God’s will was worked and forever touched successive generations. It is said that the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first-born and only child of St. Anne and her husband, St. Joachim. The couple evidently struggled with infertility, something St. John of Damascus also refers to in his homily as a means of accentuating the wonderful workings of God. “Thus nature remained sterile in Anne, until grace produced its fruit. For she who was to be born had to be a first-born daughter, since she would be the mother of the First-born of all creation, in whom all things are held together.”

On Thursday, July 25, at 7 p.m., we will celebrate the vigil of our archdiocesan patroness, St. Anne, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Through St. Anne’s intercession, her Grandson, Jesus, “in whom all things are held together,” will enable and strengthen our grandparents to witness the faith to generations of family. Imitating St. Anne, who reared our Blessed Mother, and one can well imagine had a part to play in Jesus’ upbringing, our grandparents will unleash the Gospel among family with charity and trust in the wonderful workings of God among us. 

Grandparents — St. Anne has your back.

David J. Conrad is coordinator of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue for Archdiocese of Detroit, pastoral associate and director of faith formation at St. Aidan Parish in Livonia, and part-time instructor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.