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On the Sacrament of Confirmation
"When we receive the Holy Spirit in our heart and allow Him to act, Christ Himself makes Himself present in us and molds our life"
VATICAN CITY, January 29, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's continuing catecheses on the Sacraments during his weekly General Audience today in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Morning!
In this third catechesis on the Sacraments, we will reflect on Confirmation or Cresima, which is understood in continuity with Baptism, to which it is connected in an inseparable way. These two Sacraments, together with the Eucharist, make up one salvific event -- "Christian initiation" --, with which we are inserted in Jesus Christ dead and risen and become new creatures and members of the Church. This is why originally these three Sacraments were celebrated at the same time, at the end of the catechumenal journey, normally during the Easter Vigil. Thus the course of formation was sealed and a gradual insertion in the Christian community, which could last even several years. It was done step by step to arrive at Baptism, then to Confirmation and the Eucharist.
Ordinarily one speaks of the Sacrament of "Cresima," a word which means "anointing." And, in fact, through the oil called "sacred Chrism" we are conformed, in the power of the Spirit, to Jesus Christ, who is the only true "Anointed One," the "Messiah," the Holy One of God.
The term "Confirmation," therefore, reminds us that this Sacrament brings a growth of Baptismal grace: it unites us more firmly to Christ; it brings to fulfillment our bond with the Church; it gives us the special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith, to confess the name of Christ and never to be ashamed of His cross (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1303).
"For this reason it is important to care that our children, our young one have this sacrament. We all must take care that they be baptized: and this is good, but perhaps we don't care so much if they receive Confirmation: they remain half-way and do not receive the Holy Spirit, which is very important in Christian life, because it gives us the strength to go forward!
Let us think, each one of us: do we, truly care that our children and our young ones receive Confirmation? This is important, it is important! And if you have children in your home, young ones who have not received it yet and are of age to receive it, do everything possible to bring to fulfillment this Christian initiation and that they may receive the strength of the Holy Spirit. It is important!
Of course it is important to give the candidates for Confirmation a good preparation, which must seek to lead them to personal adherence to faith in Christ and to awaken in them the sense of belonging to the Church.
Confirmation, like every Sacrament, is not the work of men but of God, who takes care of our life in order to mold us to the image of His Son, to make us capable of loving like Him. He does so by infusing in us His Holy Spirit, whose action pervades the whole person and the whole of life, as shining through the seven gifts that Tradition, in the light of Holy Scripture, has always evidenced. These seven gifts: I do not wish to ask you if you remember the seven gifts. Maybe you all do...But I will say them in your name. What are these gifts? Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of God. And these gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation. I intend to dedicate to these gifts the catecheses that will follow those of the Sacraments.
When we receive the Holy Spirit in our heart and allow Him to act, Christ Himself makes Himself present in us and molds our life. Through us, it will be He who prays, who forgives, who infuses hope and consolation, who serves brethren, who makes Himself close to the needy and the least, who creates communion, who sows peace. Think of how important this is: through the Holy Spirit, Christ Himself comes to do all this in our midst for us. For this reason it is important that children and young ones receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Dear brothers and sisters let us remind ourselves that we have received Confirmation! All of us! Let us remember it first of all to thank the Lord for this gift, and then to ask Him to help us to live as true Christians, to walk always with joy according to the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the seven sacraments, we now reflect on Confirmation, which, together with Baptism and the Eucharist, is one of the sacraments of Christian initiation. These sacraments make us sharers in the death and resurrection of Jesus and living members of his body, the Church. In Confirmation, through the sacramental sign of anointing with sacred chrism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to be more closely conformed to Christ, God's "anointed one". We are also strengthened - "confirmed" - in the grace of our Baptism and in our mission of bearing daily witness to Christ and his love. The working of the Holy Spirit in our lives is reflected in the seven spiritual gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Today let us thank the Lord for the grace of our Confirmation and ask that, filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, we may always mirror Christ's presence in our relations with others, our openness to those in need, and our living witness to the Gospel message of joy and peace.
Pope Francis (in Italian):
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, especially those from Scotland, Ireland and the United States. My special greeting goes to the pilgrimage group from the Diocese of Rapid City, accompanied by Bishop Robert Gruss. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!
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I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the participants in the Forum of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology; the Silent Workers of the Cross; and the representatives of the Traveling Show of Bergantino, exhorting them to be joyful witnesses of the Christian values of solidarity and hospitality. I greet, moreover, the group of Florentine and Tuscan Cooks, as well as the "Charter of Rome" and the "Casa Alessia" Associations, encouraging each one to continue their commitment to the needy and refugees. I greet the families of the workers of Shellbox of Castelfiorentino with Cardinal Giuseppe Betori and, while I express my closeness, I formulate the hope that every possible effort will be made by the competent entities so that work, which is a source of dignity, is the central concern of all. I greet the Foundations Associated to the Anti-Usury National Consultation with the Archbishop of Bari, Monsignor Francesco Cacucci, and I hope that the Institutions will be able to intensify their commitment to the victims of usury, tragic social plague that wounds the inviolable dignity of the human person.
A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Next Friday we will celebrate the memorial of Saint John Bosco. Dear young people, may his figure of father and teacher support you in your years of study and formation. Dear sick, do not lose hope even in the hardest moments of suffering. And you, dear newlyweds, be inspired in the Salesian model of preventive love in the integral education of your children.
[Translation by ZENIT]
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