01/08/2012, 00.00
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Pope: Baptism is the first educational choice and the first witness to children

Benedict XVI baptizes 16 babies in the Sistine Chapel. Education, a "daunting" task, is through witness. In their commitment parents, godfathers and godmothers are comforted by the Holy Spirit, prayer and the sacraments.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The decision to baptize a child or infant is the "first educational choice as a witness of faith," and although education is a "daunting" task, it is "a wonderful mission if it is accomplished in partnership with God, who is the first and true educator of every man. "

This was Benedict XVI’s message to parents, and godparents today during Mass in the Sistine Chapel, where he baptised 16 small babies. Taking a cue from today's solem feast, the Baptism of Our Lord, he stressed the value, form, and strengths of education in the faith.

On January 1 last, during Mass for World Day of Peace, Benedict XVI had said that our present world is experiencing "a critical challenge which is precisely that of education." The reasons are twofold: the reduction of education to "instruction" and the widespread culture of "relativism", which effects education.

"Educating - he said - is very demanding; it is sometimes difficult for our human capacities, which are always limited. But education becomes a wonderful mission if it takes place in partnership with God, who is the first and true educator of every man. "

The first teacher is God, who "above all, wants to give us Himself and His Word: He knows that in distancing ourselves from Him we would soon find ourselves in trouble, as in the parable of the prodigal son, and above all we would lose our human dignity."

For this reason, he said, "As adults, we have undertaken to draw on a good source, for our own good and those entrusted to our responsibility." The "good source" is "the source of salvation” and that is "the Word of God and the Sacraments."

"Parents – he added - are not the source, as we priests are not the source: we are rather like the channels through which the lifeblood of the love of God must pass if we grow distance from the source, first we ourselves are adversely affected and thus no longer able to educate others. "

The first and primary education "is through witness". And citing the example of St. John the Baptist, who witnesses in favour of Jesus, and urges his disciples to follow the Son of God, the pope said: "The true teacher does not bind people to him, he is not possessive. He wants the son or disciple, to learn to know the truth, and establish a personal relationship with it. The teacher fulfils his duty to the end, his attentive and faithful presence is never lacking, but his goal is that the student will listen to the voice of truth speaking to his heart and pursue a personal journey. "

The Spirit also bears witness "to Jesus (1 Jn 5.6)." This – he added – gives us great comfort in the commitment to teach the faith, because we know that we are not alone and that our witness is supported by the Holy Spirit ".

"It is very important for you parents, and also godfathers and godmothers, to believe strongly in the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, and welcome Him to invoke Him, through prayer and the sacraments. It is He, in fact, who enlightens the mind, warms the heart of the educator so they know how to pass on the knowledge and love of Jesus. Prayer is the first condition to educate, because in prayer we live the initiative to God, we entrust our children to Him, who knows them before and better than us, and knows exactly what their true good is. And at the same time, when we pray we are listening for God's inspiration so we may do our part well, which still is our task and which we must achieve. The Sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist, allow us to carry out our educational task in union with Christ, in communion with Him and constantly renewed by his forgiveness. "

By following this path, he added speaking off the cuff, parents will know how to measure their education of the children, knowing when to “keep silent and when to speak£, when to be “tender” and “when to be firm”.

"Dear friends - he concluded – let us all together invoke the Holy Spirit, so that He come down in abundance upon these children, so that He may consecrate them to the image of Jesus, and always accompany them on the journey of their lives. We entrust them to the maternal guidance of Mary most holy, so they may grow in age, wisdom and grace and become true Christians, faithful and joyful witnesses of the love of God, Amen. "
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