· After his catechesis dedicated to the Sacrament of Confirmation the Pope makes an appeal on behalf of workers and the unemployed ·
At the General Audience on Wednesday 29 January, Pope Francis spoke to the faithful about the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is a sacrament, he said, which is given too little attention and yet it is “so important in the Christian life”. In his greetings to the faithful following his address, the Holy Father made an appeal on behalf of all those who are unemployed or who find themselves in difficulty or crisis. The opportunity for such an appeal was offered him by the presence of several families of employees of a Tuscan company going through serious difficulty. The Pope expressed his sincere desire that “every possible effort be made by competent bodies to ensure that work, which is a source of dignity, be of central concern to everyone”. The following is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis, which was delivered in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this third catechesis on the Sacraments, we pause to reflect on Confirmation or “Chrismation”, which must be understood in continuity with Baptism, to which it is inseparably linked. These two Sacraments, together with the Eucharist, form a single saving event - called “Christian initiation”- in which we are inserted into Jesus Christ, who died and rose, and become new creatures and members of the Church.
This is why these three Sacraments were originally celebrated on one occasion, at the end of the catechumenal journey, normally at the Easter Vigil. The path of formation and gradual insertion into the Christian community, which could last even up to a few years, was thus sealed. One travelled step by step to reach Baptism, then Confirmation and the Eucharist.
We commonly speak of the sacrament of “Chrismation”, a word that signifies “anointing”. And, in effect, 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 word “Confirmation” then reminds us that this Sacrament brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace: it unites us more firmly to Christ, it renders our bond with the Church more perfect, and it gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith, ... to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of his Cross (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1303).
For this reason, it is important to take care that our children, our young people, receive this sacrament. We all take care that they are baptized and this is good, but perhaps we do not take so much care to ensure that they are confirmed. Thus they remain at a midpoint in their journey and do not receive the Holy Spirit, who is so important in the Christian life since he gives us the strength to go on. Let us think a little, each one of us: are we truly concerned that our children, our young people, receive Confirmation? This is important, it is important! And if you have children or adolescents at home who have not yet received it and are at the age to do so, do everything possible to ensure that they complete their Christian initiation and receive the power of the Holy Spirit. It is important!
Naturally it is important to offer the confirmandi a good preparation, which must aim at leading them towards a personal commitment to faith in Christ and reawakening in them a sense of belonging to the Church.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 17, 2019
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