According to the legend, one day when Joachim went to offer sacrifice in the temple, he was refused, on the argument that men without offspring were unworthy to be admitted. Deeply saddened, Joachim went away. Meanwhile, Hannah (Anne), having learned the cause of her husband’s absence of her husband, prayed to God to heal her sterility, promising (like her Old Testament namesake) to dedicate her child to the service of God. An angel revealed to her that her prayer had been heard. Joachim returned - their reunion celebrated in tradition as “the Embrace at the Golden Gate” (see picture).
In traditional extended family arrangements, grandparents often play a prominent role in family life and in the socialization of children. I was unfortunate in that I never knew my father's parents or my maternal grandfather, but very fortunate in knowing my maternal grandmother, who lived with us in our Bronx apartment until her death in September 1967, when I was 19. She spoke no English, and so I had to learn at last a minimal smattering of Italian (Sicilian dialect). She was the living link back to the family's European past that had been left behind and would otherwise have had much less influence on our very Americanized lives. she was also extremely devout, a daily communicant and candle-lighter, who passed on to me early on a great love for the Church and its ritual.
One of the ostensible hallmarks of modernity has been the decline of extended family networks - and the elevation of the narrowly defined nuclear family - father, mother, children - to normative status. But, with the corresponding post-modern decline of family life (a catastrophe symptomatic of a larger pattern of social breakdown) grandparetns have often had to step in as supplemental - and in many cases even primary - caregivers for their grandchildren. The many grandparents who have stepped up to this responsibility are performing an essential function for our society, which sadly seems to place less and less priority what is required for the formation of subsequent generations.