Yesterday’s Feast of Saints Ann and Joachim, the parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus, July 26, reminds us of the role parents and grandparents play in raising children. A few years ago I visited the ancient ruins of the temple in Jerusalem from the time of Jesus and Jewish women were fervently praying with their daughters before the temple’s western wall. They were probably praying the psalms.
Ann and her daughter Mary must have prayed here too.
The picture above is a model of the temple from Jesus’ time at the Israel Museum. Tradition says Ann and Joachim were closely connected to the temple and may have lived nearby. A church honoring St. Ann stands today near the Pool of Bethesda, where a paralyzed man was healed by Jesus. (John 5, 1-18) The church (below) and the remains of the pool are to the right of the temple.
A statue of Ann and her daughter Mary, common in many Catholic churches, can be found in the Jerusalem church. Ann is teaching her daughter at her side.
What is she teaching her? Some statues I’ve seen show her teaching Mary the scriptures. I’ve seen a statue showing Ann teaching her the ABCs and numbers. (below)That’s what parents and grandparents do: they teach children life’s basics: how to live and how to pray.
It’s still the same today. Parents and grandparents, the next generation is at your side. Ann and Joachim pray for us; show us the way.