St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 2 May 2018
Catechesis on Baptism: 4. Source of life
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Continuing the reflection on Baptism, today I would like to dwell on the central rites, which take place at the baptismal font.
Let us first consider water, on which the power of the Spirit is invoked so that it may have the strength to regenerate and renew (cf. Jn 3: 5 and Tt 3: 5). Water is the matrix of life and well-being, while its lack causes the extinguishing of all fruitfulness, as it happens in the desert; water, however, can also be a cause of death, when it submerges in its waves or in large quantities overwhelms everything; finally, water has the ability to wash, clean and purify.
Starting from this universally recognized natural symbolism, the Bible describes the interventions and promises of God through the sign of water. However, the power to forgive sins does not lie in the water itself, as Sant'Ambrogio explained to the newly baptized: "You have seen water, but not every water healed: heal the water that has the grace of Christ. [...] The action is of the water, the effectiveness is of the Holy Spirit "(De sacramentis 1,15).
Therefore the Church invokes the action of the Spirit on water "so that those who receive baptism will be buried with Christ in death and resurrect with him to immortal life" (Rite of the Baptism of Children, No. 60). The prayer of blessing says that God has prepared the water "to be a sign of Baptism" and recalls the main biblical prefigurations: on the waters of the origins the Spirit was heaped to make them a seed of life (cf. Gen 1: 1-2); the water of the deluge marked the end of sin and the beginning of new life (cf. Gen 7: 6-8,22); through the water of the Red Sea the sons of Abraham were freed from the slavery of Egypt (cf. Ex 14: 15-31). In connection with Jesus, we recall the baptism in the Jordan (cf. Mt 3: 13-17), the blood and water poured out from his side (cf. Jn 19: 31-37), and the mandate to the disciples to baptize all peoples in the name of the Trinity (cf. Mt 28,19). Strengthened by this memory, God is asked to instill in the water of the fountain the grace of Christ who died and rose again (cf. Rite of the Baptism of Children, No. 60). And so, this water is transformed into water that carries within it the power of the Holy Spirit. And with this water with the power of the Holy Spirit, we baptize people, baptize adults, children, everyone.
Sanctified the water of the source, it is necessary to arrange the heart to access Baptism. This happens with the renunciation of Satan and the profession of faith, two acts closely connected to each other. To the extent that I say "no" to the suggestions of the devil - he who divides - I am able to say "yes" to God who calls me to conform to Him in thoughts and deeds. The devil divides; God always unites the community, the people in one people. It is not possible to adhere to Christ by laying conditions. It is necessary to detach oneself from certain bonds in order to be able to really embrace others; either you're fine with God or you're fine with the devil. This is why renunciation and the act of faith go together. It is necessary to cut bridges, leaving them behind, to undertake the new Way that is Christ.
The answer to the questions - "Give up Satan, all his works, and all his seductions?" - is formulated to the first person singular: "I renounce". And in the same way the faith of the Church is professed, saying: "I believe". I renounce and I believe: this is the basis of Baptism. It is a responsible choice, which demands to be translated into concrete gestures of trust in God. The act of faith presupposes a commitment that Baptism itself will help to maintain with perseverance in the various situations and trials of life. Let us remember the ancient wisdom of Israel: "Son, if you present yourself to serve the Lord, prepare yourself to temptation" (Sir 2: 1), that is, prepared for the struggle. And the presence of the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to fight well.
Dear brothers and sisters, when we dip our hands in the blessed water - entering a church we touch the holy water - and we make the sign of the Cross, we think with joy and gratitude to the Baptism we received - this blessed water reminds us of Baptism - and we renew our "Amen" - "I am happy" -, to live immersed in the love of the Most Holy Trinity.
Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones, en particulier les jeunes du diocese de Rouen avec leur évêque Mgr Lebrun et les jeunes du diocese de Saint-Brieuc avec leur évêque Mgr Moutel. Quand nous faisons le signe de la croix en plongeant notre main dans l'eau bénite, puissions-nous penser avec reconnaissance au baptême reçu et renouveler notre "Amen", pour vivre immergés dans l'amour de la Sainte Trinité. Que Dieu vous bénisse!'
[I am pleased to greet the Francophone-speaking pilgrims, in particular the young people of Rouen with their Bishop Mons. Lebrun and the youth of Saint Brieuc with their Bishop Mons. Moute. When we make the sign of the cross by immersing our hands in holy water, we can think gratefully about the baptism received and renew our "Amen" to live immersed in the love of the Holy Trinity. God bless you!]
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today's Audience, especially those from the United Kingdom, India, Thailand, Canada and the United States of America. In a special way, I greet the members of the Catholic Extension Society of the United States, with gratitude for their contribution to the work of rebuilding in Puerto Rico. In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families. May the Lord bless you all!
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Das Taufgedächtnis, das wir in der Osterliturgie feiern, führt uns unsere lebendige Beziehung zu Christus vor Augen und macht uns bereit, ihm in der Liebe zu den Brüdern und Schwestern zu folgen. Gott marks euch und eure Familien!
[I address a cordial greeting to the German-speaking pilgrims. The remembrance of our Baptism, which we celebrate in the Liturgy of Easter, reminds us of our living bond with Christ, and makes us available to follow him in charity to our brothers and sisters. God bless you and your families.]
I cordially greet a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Los invitation to que hagan memory agradecida de su bautismo, y a que renueven con alegría y convencimiento el compromiso que sellaron aquel día, de mode que vivan siempre inmersos en el amor de Dios Father, Hijo y Espíritu Santo. Muchas gracias. Dirijo uma cordial saudação aos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, presentes nesta Audiência, nomeadamente aos grupos vindos de Portugal and do Brasil. Queridos amigos, a graça do batismo must frutificar num caminho de santidade feito de pequenos, mas profundos, gestos concretos de confiança em Deus and de amor ao próximo. Que Deus vos abençoe!
[I address a cordial greeting to the Portuguese-speaking pilgrims present at this audience, in particular to groups from Portugal and Brazil. Dear friends, the grace of baptism is directed to fructify in a journey of holiness made by small, but profound, concrete gestures of trust in God and love of neighbor. God bless you!]
أرحب بالحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية, وخاصة بالقادمين من الشرق الأوسط. أيها الإخوة والأخوات الأعزاء, تذكروا على الدوام أن الكفر بالخطيئة وبإغراءات الشر وبالشيطان, والإيمان بكل ما تؤمن به الكنيسة, ليست أفعالا موقتة, تنحصر بلحظة المعمودية; بل هي مواقف ترافق نمو ونضوج الحياة المسيحية. ليبارككم الرب! [I extend a cordial welcome to the Arab-speaking pilgrims, especially those from the Middle East! Dear brothers and sisters, always remember that the renunciation of sin, the seductions of evil, and Satan, is what the Church believes; they are not temporary actions, limited to the moment of Baptism, but attitudes that accompany all the growth and maturation of Christian life. The Lord bless you!] Pozdrawiam serdecznie Polakow, in szczególnie delegację Caritas Polska wraz z młodzieżą z Syrii, przybyłych do Rzymu specjalnym busem, Mobilna ambasada Young Caritas, którzy inicjują kampanię uwrażliwienia społeczeństwa na Problemy ludzi najbiedniejszych, promują wolontariat Młodzieży, akcje Informacyjna the pomoc dla ofiar prześladowań w Syrii. Duchowym znakiem projektu Bus Young Caritas będzie peregrynacja Obrazu Matki Bożej z Aleppo. W nabożeństwach majowych zawierzajcie Maryi, Królowej Polski, sprawy całego Kościoła, Ojczyzny i waszych rodzin. Proście o pokój na świecie, in zwłaszcza na Bliskim Wschodzie. Z serca wam błogosławię. [I cordially greet the Poles, and especially the delegation of the Polish Caritas, together with some young people from Syria, arrived in Rome with a special bus, the mobile Embassy of the Caritas Youth, which begin a campaign that aims to raise awareness of society to the problems of the poorest; promote youth volunteering and help for victims of persecution in Syria. The spiritual sign of the Bus Young Caritas project will be the pilgrimage of the Image of Our Lady of Aleppo. During the functions of the month of May entrusted to Mary, Queen of Poland, the life of the Church, your country and your families. Pray for peace in the world, and especially in the Middle East. I warmly bless you.]
Radosno pozdravljam sve hrvatske hodočasnike, a osobito voditelje i učenike Katoličke škole "Sveti Josip" iz Sarajeva, u Bosni i Hercegovini. Dragi mladi, još uvijek mi je živ u srcu naš susret u Sarajevu 2015 godine, osobito vaša radosna prisutnost te vaša žeđ za istinom i idealima. Potičem vas da se približavate sve više Kristu, kako biste u punini živjeli svoj život. Crkva računa na vas: budite uvijek velikodušni, hrabri i puni nade. Od srca vas blagoslivljam! Hvaljen Isus i Marija! [I greet with joy the Croatian pilgrims, especially the leaders and students of the "Saint Joseph" Catholic School of Sarajevo, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dear young people, I still live in our hearts at our meeting in Sarajevo in 2015, above all your festive presence, your thirst for truth and ideals. I urge you to adhere more and more to Christ, to live your existence fully. The Church counts on you: always be generous, courageous and full of hope. I bless you from my heart. May Jesus and Mary be praised!] * * * I extend a cordial welcome to the faithful of the Italian language. In particular, I greet the priests of the Pontifical International Missionary College and of the Pontifical Spanish College San José of Rome; the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Star in Stornella; the Laboratory Association of the hope of Ascoli Piceno and the Tuscan Chefs union. I am pleased to welcome the pilgrims from the city of Palermo, accompanied by their Pastor Mons. Corrado Lorefice. I encourage everyone to be faithful to Christ, the source of our hope, to make the joy of the Gospel shine everywhere. A special thought for the young, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds. Today there is the memory of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. His holiness, associated with sound doctrine, sustains faith and strengthens the Christian witness of each one.