4 Lessons from Sts. Joachim and Anne – Our Spiritual Grandparents

Who doesn’t love basking in the wisdom of their grandparents? I love calling my grandparents and asking them to tell me about their lives. Even though my grandmother’s memory is no longer sharp, she can quickly recall her younger years. She regularly tells me stories about her youth, her siblings, and her years raising her own family. Even though her stories have now become predictable, I still love to hear her speak.

I have developed a reverence for my grandma, the life she has lived, and what she has worked to impart to her family. Talking to my grandma about her life gives me a sense of belonging. Knowing who she is gives me an intergenerational perspective and purpose.

In the same way that we crave to hear the stories of the people who came before us, we ought to cultivate a reverence and awe for the grandparents of Jesus. Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, the faithful parents of Mary, play a critical role in our salvation history.

Sometimes when I pray the rosary, I like to think about the life of Jesus as a photo album, with Mary showing me precious moments from her son’s life. I imagine Our Blessed Mother flipping through the pages her life with Jesus and teaching me to love her Son through her eyes. On this Feast of Saints Anne and Saint Joachim, let’s go all the way back in the photo album and ask our spiritual grandparents to teach us to how to love Jesus.

Nativity of the Theotokos by Andreas Herrlein (1738-1817)

Here are 4 life lessons from our spiritual grandparents:

1. The Power of Prayer and Supplication

Saint Anne and Joachim were past child-bearing years and barren. Not only did they not have descendants, but in their culture, this was a major reason to look down upon a couple. Instead of losing hope, Saint Joachim went into the wilderness to pray and fast, begging the Lord for a child. This also teaches us that prayer changes us. Through the years of their yearning, the couple’s hearts were changed, expanded, and took on a greater capacity to love Mary when she was born. This is a lesson to us. When our prayers are not answered immediately, it can be an opportunity for our capacity to love to grow, creating a space in our hearts for the gift that the Lord will give us.

2. An Example of How to Honor Our Parents

Saint Anne and Saint Joachim are examples of all that parents sacrifice for their children, even when as their children, we do not actively feel it. Our Lady was born without the stain of original sin, but she patiently let her parents teach her.

3. Models of Fidelity in Marriage

Unfortunately, in our culture, many of us struggle to find examples of faithful marriages to aspire to. Thankfully, we have Saint Anne and Saint Joachim who stayed together, even though their lives were less than easy and predictable. We can ask them to be an example of perseverance and fidelity in our vocations. Not only did they stay together their entire lives, but they both became saints. For those called to marriage, they are an example of a couple that pursued holiness together.

The Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple of Jerusalem by Titian (c. 1534 - c. 1538)
The Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple of Jerusalem by Titian (c. 1534 – c. 1538)

4. The First Who Learned to Love Our Lady

Saint Maximiliam Kolbe said, “Never be afraid of loving Mary too much, you’ll never love her more than Jesus did.” Because of the brokenness in our own families, many of us struggle to understand Mary and how to love her as our spiritual mother. We can look to the parents who lovingly cared for her as an example of how to know and love her. Saint Anne and Saint Joachim waited patiently for Mary to come into their lives. Like the Angel instructed St. Joseph, they were not afraid to “take Mary into their home.”

If Saint Anne and Saint Joachim are worthy to be the grandparents of Jesus, they are certainly good enough for us! Today let’s grow close to our spiritual grandparents, like children basking in the delightful presence of our grandparents, who teach us to be children of God.

Natasha Tax
Natasha Tax
Natasha is a 5th year missionary serving as a program director for FOCUS in Europe. Before moving to Europe, she studied at Temple University and then served as a missionary at Columbia University in New York City for 2 years. Her favorite activities are baking and visiting Marian shrines.

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