St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
Catechesis on Baptism. 2. The sign of the Christian faith
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
We continue the catechesis on Baptism during this Easter season. The meaning of baptism clearly stands out from its celebration, so we turn our attention to it. Considering the gestures and words of the liturgy we can grasp the grace and commitment of this sacrament, which is always to be rediscovered. We remember this in the sprinkling with the holy water that can be done on Sundays at the beginning of the Mass, as well as in the renewal of the baptismal promises during the Easter Vigil. In fact, what happens in the celebration of baptism arouses a spiritual dynamic that goes through the whole life of the baptized; it is the beginning of a process that allows one to live united to Christ in the Church. Therefore, returning to the source of Christian life leads us to better understand the gift received on the day of our Baptism and to renew the commitment to respond to it in the condition in which we find ourselves today. Renew the commitment, better understand this gift, which is baptism, and remember the day of our baptism. Last Wednesday I asked to do homework and each of us, remember the day of the baptism, which day I was baptized. I know that some of you know it, others, no; those who do not know it, ask the relatives, those people, godparents, godmothers ... ask: "What is the date of my baptism?" Because Baptism is a rebirth and it is like a second birthday. I got it? Do this homework, ask: "What is the date of my baptism?".
First of all, in the welcoming rite, the candidate's name is asked, because the name indicates the identity of a person. When we introduce ourselves, we immediately say our name: "I call myself so", so as to get out of anonymity, the anonymous is the one that has no name. To get out of anonymity, let's say our name right away. Without name you remain unknown, without rights and duties. God calls each one by name, loving us individually, in the concreteness of our history. Baptism ignites the personal vocation to live as Christians, which will develop throughout life. And it implies a personal and not borrowed answer, with a "copy and paste". In fact, Christian life is interwoven with a series of calls and answers: God continues to pronounce our name over the years, making his call to conform to his Son Jesus resound in a thousand ways. The name is therefore important! Is very important! Parents think of the name to give to their child before birth: this too is part of the expectation of a child who, in his own name, will have his original identity, even for the Christian life tied to God.
Of course, becoming a Christian is a gift that comes from above (cf. Jn 3: 3-8). Faith can not be bought, but to ask yes, and to receive as a gift yes. "Lord, give me the gift of faith", it is a beautiful prayer! "That I have faith" is a beautiful prayer. Ask for it as a gift, but you can not buy it, you ask. In fact, "Baptism is the sacrament of that faith, by which men, enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, respond to the Gospel of Christ" (Rite of the Baptism of Children, Introductory Gen., No. 3). The formation of catechumens and the preparation of parents tend to arouse and awaken a sincere faith in response to the Gospel, such as listening to the Word of God in the celebration of baptism.
If adult catechumens show firsthand what they want to receive as a gift from the Church, children are presented by their parents, with their godparents. Dialogue with them, allows them to express the will that children receive Baptism and the Church intends to celebrate it. "Expression of all this is the sign of the cross, which the celebrant and his parents trace on the foreheads of children" (Rite of the Baptism of Children, Introd., No. 16). "The sign of the cross expresses the seal of Christ on the one who is about to belong to him and signifies the grace of redemption that Christ has acquired for us through his cross" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1235). In the ceremony we make the sign of the cross on children. But I would like to go back to a subject that I spoke to you about. Do our children know how to make the sign of the cross well? So many times I have seen children who can not make the sign of the cross. And you, father, mother, grandparents, grandmothers, godparents, godmothers, you must teach to do well the sign of the cross because it is to repeat what has been done in Baptism. You got it right? Teach children to do the sign of the cross well. If they learn it as children they will do well later, when they grow up.
The cross is the badge that shows who we are: our speaking, thinking, looking, working is under the sign of the cross, that is, under the sign of Jesus' love until the end. The children are marked in front. Adult catechumens are also marked on the senses, with these words: "Receive the sign of the cross on your ears to hear the voice of the Lord"; "On the eyes to see the splendor of the face of God"; "On the mouth, to answer the word of God"; "On the chest, because Christ dwells through faith in your hearts"; "On the shoulders, to support the gentle yoke of Christ" (Rite of the Christian initiation of adults, No. 85). Christians become the extent to which the cross is imprinted in us as an "Easter" mark (cf. Rev 14: 1, 22: 4), making visible, even outwardly, the Christian way of facing life. Making the sign of the cross when we wake up, before meals, before a danger, to defend against evil, the night before sleep means to tell ourselves and others who we belong to, who we want to be. This is why it is so important to teach children to do the sign of the cross. And, as we do when we enter the church, we can do it at home, keeping some blessed water in a small pot - some families do it: so, every time we come back or go out, making the sign of the cross with that water we remember that we are baptized. Do not forget, I repeat: to teach children to make the sign of the cross.
FULL TEXT and Image SHARE from Vatican.va (Unofficial Translation)