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It is Jesus who gives strength

· In a book: Cardinal Bergoglio's words to confirmands ·

“Jesus does not force you to be Christian. But if you say that you are a Christian you must believe that Jesus is all-powerful — the only one who has power — to renew the world, to renew your life, to renew your family, to renew the community, to renew everyone”. These are the words of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. In this way the Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires addressed  — on 18 February 2012 — a copious group of young confirmandi who were gathered in the Roman basilica of St Lawrence outside the Walls. The words of “Father” Bergoglio — as he was often called in a familiar tone, before he became Bishop of Rome  — are, as always: simple, profound and direct. Above all capable of captivating and moving. “You are not phonies, Christians only in word. You are Christians with the word, with the heart, with the hands. Feel like Christians, speak like Christians and do the deeds of a Christian. But you could not do this alone. It is Jesus who gives you this spirit, He will give you the strength to renew all things: not you yourselves, but He in you”.  This passage, together with an excerpt taken from another homily preached by Cardinal Bergoglio on 4 June 2006, and again in the same basilica, before another group of confirmands prepared by don Giacomo Tantardini, friend and disciple of don Giussani, constitute a splendid book for young people. A small volume in which, with clarity and simplicity, the worth and meaning of the Sacrament of Confirmation are explained ( Gesù vi dà la forza. Le parole del cardinale Jorge Mario Bergoglio ai ragazzi che ricevono il Sacramento della Confermazione , Sesto Ulteriano - San Giuliano Milanese, Piccola Casa Editrice, 2013, 48 pages, 12 Euro).

Chrismation is a crucial transition, for more and more often its conferral – rather than signalling the beginning of a fuller and more conscious journey of faith – is understood as a “see you later”, or even “goodbye”, to the Christian life.  With this optic, the book is enhanced, as is usual for the series, by Franco Vignazia's images; also, the excerpts of these two homilies are separated by the speech whereby Pope Francis, in one of his first general audiences (3 April 2013), greeted the confirmands from the diocese of Milan, led by their Archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola.




St. Peter’s Square

Feb. 20, 2020