St. Peter's Square
Wednesday, 6 June 2018
Catechesis on Confirmation. 3: For the growth of the Church
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Continuing the reflection on the sacrament of Confirmation, let us consider the effects that the gift of the Holy Spirit makes mature in the confirmed, leading them to become, in turn, a gift for others. The Holy Spirit is a gift. Recall that when the bishop gives us the anointing with oil, he says: "Receive the Holy Spirit that is given to you as a gift". That gift of the Holy Spirit enters and fructifies us, so that we can then give it to others. Always receive to give: never receive and keep things inside, as if the soul were a warehouse. No: always receive to give. God's graces are received to give them to others. This is the life of the Christian. It is therefore of the Holy Spirit, therefore, to decentralize ourselves from our "I" to open ourselves to the "us" of the community: to receive to give. We are not at the center: we are an instrument of that gift for others.
Completing the resemblance to Christ in the baptized, Confirmation unites them more strongly as living members of the mystical body of the Church (see Rite of Confirmation, No. 25). The Church's mission in the world proceeds through the contribution of all those who are part of it. Some think that in the Church there are masters: the Pope, the bishops, the priests, and then there are the others. No: the Church we are all! And we all have the responsibility of sanctifying one another, of caring for others. We are all the Church. Everyone has his work in the Church, but we all are. We must think of the Church as a living organism, composed of people we know and walk with, and not as an abstract and distant reality. We are the Church that walks, the Church is we who today are in this square. We: this is the Church. The Confirmation binds to the universal Church spread all over the earth, however, actively involving the confirmed in the life of the particular Church to which they belong, with the Bishop at the head, who is the successor of the Apostles.
This is why the Bishop is the original minister of Confirmation (cf. Lumen Gentium, 26), because he inserts the confirmed in the Church. The fact that, in the Latin Church, this sacrament is ordinarily conferred by the Bishop highlights its "effect of uniting more closely to the Church, to its apostolic origins and to its mission to witness Christ, those who receive it" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1313).
And this ecclesial incorporation is well signified by the sign of peace that concludes the ritual of crismation. The Bishop says, in fact, to each confirmed: "Peace be with you". Recalling the greeting of Christ to the disciples on Easter evening, filled with the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 20: 19-23) - we have heard -, these words illuminate a gesture that "expresses ecclesial communion with the Bishop and with all the faithful" (see CCC, 1301). We, in Confirmation, receive the Holy Spirit and peace: that peace that we must give to others. But let's think: everyone thinks about their own parish community, for example. There is the Confirmation ceremony, and then we give ourselves peace: the Bishop gives it to Confirmation, and then to Mass, we exchange it with each other. This means harmony, it means charity among us, it means peace. But then what happens? We go out and start to talk about others, to "peel" the others. The talk begins. And the rumors are wars. This is not right! If we have received the sign of peace by the power of the Holy Spirit, we must be men and women of peace, and not destroy, with the tongue, the peace that the Spirit has made. Poor Holy Spirit, the work he has with us, with this habit of chatter! Think well: chatter is not a work of the Holy Spirit, it is not a work of the unity of the Church. The chatter destroys what God does. But please: let's stop talking!
Confirmation is received only once, but the spiritual dynamism aroused by holy unction is persevering in time. We will never cease to fulfill the mandate to emit everywhere the good scent of a holy life, inspired by the fascinating simplicity of the Gospel.
Nobody receives Confirmation only for himself, but to cooperate in the spiritual growth of others. Only in this way, opening ourselves and going out of ourselves to meet our brothers, can we really grow and not only deceive ourselves of doing it. What we receive as a gift from God must in fact be given - the gift is to give - so that it is fruitful, and not instead buried because of selfish fears, as the parable of the talents teaches (cf. Mt 25: 14-30). Even the seed, when we have the seed in hand, but it is not to put it there, in the closet, to leave it there: it is to sow it. We must give the gift of the Holy Spirit to the community. I urge confirmations not to "cage" the Holy Spirit, not to resist the wind that blows to push them to walk in freedom, not to stifle the burning Fire of charity that leads to consume the life for God and for the brothers. May the Holy Spirit grant us all the apostolic courage to communicate the Gospel, with works and words, to all those we meet on our way. With works and words, but good words: those that build. No the words of the chatter that destroy. Please, when you leave the church, think that the peace received is to give it to others: not to destroy it with chatter. Do not forget this.
Greetings in Various Languages:
Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones. Je salue en particulier ceux du diocèse de Saint-Claude avec leur évêque Mgr Jordy ; ceux du diocèse canadien de Valleyfield avec leur évêque Mgr Simard ; les membres de la Société des Deux Cœurs d’Amour avec Mgr Rivière, Évêque d’Autun, ainsi que le Chœur Notre Dame d’Arménie. Que l’Esprit Saint nous accorde le courage apostolique de communiquer l’Evangile, en paroles et en actes, à tous ceux que nous rencontrons sur notre route. Que Dieu vous bénisse !
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Ireland, Norway, Nigeria, China, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Der Heilige Geist gebe uns den apostolischen Mut, Christus, unseren Herrn und Erlöser, zu bezeugen, mit Worten und Taten, gegenüber allen, denen wir auf unseren Wegen begegnen. Gott segne euch und eure Familien!
Saludo especialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. De modo particular, saludo a los responsables y miembros de la Cadena COPE, con motivo de su convención anual, y que están acompañados por el Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal Española, Cardenal Ricardo Blázquez Pérez. Los animo a pedir la asistencia del Espíritu Santo en sus vidas para que les conceda la valentía de comunicar y anunciar la alegría del Evangelio, con palabras y obras, a cuantos encuentran en el camino de la vida.
Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os grupos brasileiros vindos de Ourinhos, Goiânia, Bauru e Venâncio Aires: sede bem-vindos! Todos nós que recebemos o dom do Espírito Santo devemos invocá-lo com mais frequência, para que Ele nos guie pela estrada dos discípulos de Cristo, aos quais é pedido para que sejam cristãos em todas as circunstâncias e escolhas da vida. Que Deus vos abençoe!
أرحبّ بمودّة بالحاضرينَ الناطقينَ باللغة العربيّة، وخاصة بالقادمين من الأراضي المقدسة ومن مصر ومن الشرق الأوسط. ما من أحد ينال سرّ التثبيت لنفسه فقط، إنما كي يشارك في نموّ الآخرين الروحي. فنِعم الله تعطى لنا كي نعطيها للآخرين لأنها تزداد بالمشاركة وتختفي بالأنانية. علينا إذًا ألا نخاف من أن نهب ما نناله باستمرار من الروح القدس عبر شهادة حياة مقدّسة، وعبر نشر عطر كلمته المُحيية بين الإخوة. ليبارككم الرب جميعا ويحرسكم من الشرير!
Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, przybyliście w pielgrzymce do grobów Apostołów Piotra i Pawła. Ich świadectwo uczy nas, że ewangelicznymi błogosławieństwami „możemy żyć tylko wtedy, gdy Duch Święty przenika nas całą swoją mocą i uwalnia nas od słabości egoizmu, lenistwa czy pychy” (Adhort. ap. Gaudete et exsultate, 65). Pozwólcie się prowadzić Jego mocy, abyście i wy byli błogosławionymi posłańcami Chrystusowej Dobrej Nowiny. Niech Pan wam błogosławi!
I extend a cordial welcome to the faithful of the Italian language.
I am pleased to welcome the Brothers of the Christian Schools; the Parishes, in particular those of Giugliano in Campania and Altamura, and the participants in the Pilgrimage from Macerata to Loreto, accompanied by the Bishops, Monsignor Nazzareno Marconi and by Monsignor Giancarlo Vecerrica.
I greet the Cellamare Volunteers for Rescue and Civil Protection Association; the "L'imprevisto" Cooperative of Pesaro and the "Rinascita" Group of Teolo.
Friday the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus occurs. Throughout the month of June, I invite you to pray the Heart of Jesus and to support your priests with closeness and affection, so that they may be images of that Heart full of merciful love.
A special thought for the young, the elderly, the sick and the newlyweds. Draw from the Heart of Jesus the spiritual food and drink of your life, so that, nourished by Christ, be new people, transformed in the depths by that divine love. Thank you!