When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to live three blocks away from my paternal grandfather. He was an incredible person and taught me numerous lessons throughout my life before he passed away in 2019.
One of my most fond memories was our Sunday routine. My family would pile into our minivan, and drive the short distance to his house to pick him up so we could all attend Mass together. Then after Mass, we would go out to breakfast.
As a child, I might have put more emphasis on getting my hot chocolate with whipped cream or French toast. But as an adult, when I think back to that time, I am thankful that my grandfather knew how important it was to share his faith with me and my family.
Today, my children are blessed to be able to have a similar experience with their grandparents, even if we do not go out for breakfast each week. It is important to me to continue to nurture the relationships between my children and their grandparents.
I want to teach my children that having a relationship with their grandparents is not just about “respecting your elders”. Rather, I want them to appreciate all of the wisdom and experience their grandparents can share with them.
On July 26th, the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, AKA Jesus’ grandparents, we are given the perfect opportunity to celebrate grandparents as well as honor these wonderful Saints.
Saint Joachim and Saint Anne
Unfortunately, not much is known about Saints Joachim and Anne. Their names come from the Protoevangelium of St James, an apocryphal book written after Jesus’s death.
What we do know about these Saints, is what we can infer from their daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary’s character indicates so much about her family of origin.
She was courageous and strong, especially in times of trouble. Mary had a dedicated prayer life and took the laws of her faith very seriously. She also was willing to do anything for her family. All of these traits of Mary indicate that she came from a close, loving family that was focused on her future while also remembering those who came before them.
Not everyone is able to live close to their grandparents and some families have lost grandparents, which can make celebrating them difficult. This is true in our family as well. Something that my kids enjoy doing is making cards and activity sheets for their grandparents.
This is a simple gift that lets each child share their creativity and hopefully puts a smile on their grandparents' faces. If you do not have any living grandparents to share the feast day with, simply choose an elderly neighbor or someone you see regularly at Mass. Even just having your children color a picture for someone else will help brighten their day and honor the Saints.
Fix Them Their Favorites
When planning the meal for the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, you have a variety of choices. You can choose to make your grandparent’s favorite food or pick up something to eat from one of their favorite restaurants.
Another option would be to make a recipe that your grandparents have passed on over the years, through the family. Depending on who we are celebrating the day with will determine what we make.
If we are celebrating with my kid’s paternal grandmother then her request would be a dish, lovingly called “Nana Pasta”. Nana pasta is an Italian sausage and bell pepper pasta with a creamy tomato sauce, perfect for getting grandchildren’s faces messy while eating.
It’s a favorite dish in our house and I love creating the tradition of having a dinner that everyone looks forward to having together.
Dessert From the Heart
Grandmothers are often well-known for their baking skills. I think a great dessert choice for the feast would be homemade cookies. My maternal grandfather passed down a shortbread recipe that we have been making for years.
Saint Anne is also known as the patron Saint of lace-makers so you could make lace cookies like this recipe. Another family favorite is my mother-in-law’s lemon bars. Something well-loved and homemade is the perfect treat to round out the feast day’s celebration.
Praying for Our Grandparents
Praying for our grandparents is an important thing to do on the feast day as well. We want to pray for health and long lives for all the grandparents in our lives. We want to remember all those grandparents that have passed away.
You can pray for your grandparents and ask for Saints Anne and Saint Joachim’s intercession. There is even a novena dedicated to Saint Anne that is prayed starting July 17th and ending on the feast day. You can learn more about the novena here.
Another great prayer is “O, Glorious Saint Anne” prayer, which is found on the Saint Anne Prayer card in the shop:
“Glorious Saint Anne, filled with compassion for those who invoke you, and with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet, and humbly beg of you to take the present affair which I recommend to you under your special protection. Vouchsafe to commend it to your Daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints praising and blessing Him for all eternity. Amen. Good Saint Anne, Mother of her who is our life, our sweetness and our hope, pray to her for us, and obtain our request. (Three times). Good Saint Anne, pray for us.”
May we honor Saints Joachim and Anne on their feast day and use this day to celebrate our grandparents as well. Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.
If you are looking for more ways to bring the rich traditions of the Catholic Church's liturgical year into your family life, be sure to check out the Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney. If you have no idea what the liturgical year is, but want to bring your faith home from Sunday Mass—in every season, all year long—this is the book for you. These are a best seller and I know you'll love it.