Vatican City ( AsiaNews ) - "It is important that young people receive the Sacrament of Confirmation , through which one receives the Holy Spirit and is thus more firmly united to Christ and to the Church, to spread the faith and live as true Christians".
Pope Francis dedicated his general audience to the sacrament of Confirmation, the third in the series on the sacraments. He addressed 20 thousand people present at the general audience, despite the cold and rainy day, about which he also joked. "In these past few Wednesdays - he said - we have been blessed from heaven half way through the audience, but you are brave, onwards!".
And at the end of the audience, waving to a group of workers he expressed the hope "that every effort be made possible by the competent bodies, so that employment - which is a source of dignity- is everyone's central concern. No-one should be without work! It is a source of dignity". He then added a plea for "institutions to enhance their commitment in support of victims of usury, which is a dramatic social evil ... when a family has nothing to eat because it has to repay loan sharks, that is not Christian! It is inhuman! It is a dramatic social evil that wounds the inviolable dignity of the human person".
Confirmation, the Pope went on to explain, "is to be understood in continuity with Baptism , to which it is inseparably linked. These two sacraments, together with the Eucharist, form a unique salvific event, Christian initiation, in which we become part of Jesus Christ who died and rose again and in which we become new creatures and members of the Church. This is why originally these three sacraments were celebrated in a single moment, at the end of the catechumenate, usually at the Easter Vigil. Thus the course of formation and of gradual insertion into the Christian community, that could last for several years, was finally sealed".
"The term Confirmation - he continued - reminds us that this sacrament brings an increase of baptismal grace: it unites us more firmly to Christ; it completes our bond with the Church; it grants us the special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith, to confess the name of Christ and never to be ashamed of His Cross . 'This is why it's important to take care that our children, our young people receive this sacrament. We all take great care that they are baptized : and this is good! But perhaps we were less concerned for them to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation: thus they are stuck in the middle of the journey". This sacrament "is very important in Christian life, because it gives us the strength to go on ! Let's think a little about this, each of us: Do we, really, care about our children and our young people and that they receive the Sacrament of Confirmation? It is important, this is important. If you have children at home, teenagers who have not yet received it and are old enough to receive it, do everything possible to bring this Christian initiation to completion, so that they receive the power of the Holy Spirit. It is important!. Of course it is important to offer a good preparation to those receiving it, which should aim to lead them to a personal commitment to faith in Christ and to awaken in them a sense of belonging to the Church".
"Confirmation, like every sacrament is not the work of men, but of God, who takes care of our lives to mold us in the image of his Son, to enable us to love Him as He does us this by instilling in us the his Holy Spirit , the action of which pervades the whole person and all of his or her life , as reflected by the seven gifts that tradition, in the light of Sacred Scripture, has always stressed " . He then recalled the seven gifts of "wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of God". The Pope also announced that after the catechesis on the sacraments, he will dedicate those that follow to the seven gifts.
"When we welcome the Holy Spirit into our hearts - he concluded - and we let him act, Christ makes himself present in us and takes shape in our lives. Through us, He will, Christ will pray, forgive, infuse hope and consolation, serve our brothers and sisters, be close to the needy and to the last, create community, sow peace. Just think about how important this is: that through the Holy Spirit , Christ himself will do all this in the midst of us and for us ! So it is important that children and young people receive this sacrament".