Appeal of Francis on the eve of the feast of the Our Lady of Sheshan. Confirmation, the "gift" with which "Christ is to fill us with his Spirit, consecrating us as his witnesses, sharing in the same principle of life and mission, according to the plan of the heavenly Father". "Christian witness consists in doing only and all that the Spirit of Christ asks of us, granting us the strength to do it".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has prayed that "all" Chinese Catholics "may live their faith with generosity and serenity, and so that they can make concrete gestures of fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter".
His prayer came at the end of today’s general audience and on the eve of the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Help of Christians", particularly venerated in the Sheshan shrine, near Shanghai, Francis said that "this anniversary invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China. For them we pray to Our Lady, so that they may live their faith with generosity and serenity, and so that they may carry out concrete gestures of fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter ".
"Dearest disciples of the Lord in China - he added - the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even amid difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to the will of God. Our Lady will never fail to help you and will safeguard you with her maternal love".
Previously, to the 20 thousand people present in Saint Peter's Square, the Pope spoke of Confirmation, the theme of a cycle of catechesis which began today.
"After the catechesis on Baptism - he said - these days that follow the solemnity of Pentecost invite us to reflect on the witness that the Spirit arouses in the baptized, setting their lives in motion, opening them to the good of others. Jesus entrusted to his disciples a great mission: "You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world" (cf. Mt 5: 13-16). These are images that make us think of our behavior, because both too much salt or too little salt make food disgusting, just as too much or too little light prevents us from seeing. Who can really make us salt that gives flavor and preserves from corruption, and light that enlightens the world, is only the Spirit of Christ! And this is the gift we receive in the Sacrament of Confirmation, on which I wish to pause and reflect with you. It is called 'Confirmation' because it confirms Baptism and strengthens its grace (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1289); as well as 'Confirmation', from the fact that we receive the Spirit through anointing with the 'chrism' - oil mixed with perfume consecrated by the Bishop - a term that refers to 'Christ', the Anointed of the Holy Spirit ".
"Being reborn to divine life in Baptism is the first step; it is then necessary to behave as children of God, that is, to conform to Christ who works in the holy Church, letting himself be involved in his mission in the world. This is what the anointing of the Holy Spirit provides: "without his strength, nothing is in man" (cf. Sequence of Pentecost). As the whole life of Jesus was animated by the Spirit, so too the life of the Church and of each of its members is under the guidance of the same Spirit". "Conceived by the Virgin through the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus undertakes his mission after having come out of the water of the Jordan, he is consecrated by the Spirit who descends and remains on him (cf. Mk 1: 10, Jn 1:32). He explicitly declares it in the synagogue of Nazareth, applying to himself the words of the prophet Isaiah to explain his messianic ministry: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; for this he consecrated me with anointing and sent me to bring good news to the poor "(Lk 4:18)".
"Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit and is the source of the Spirit promised by the Father (cf. Jn 15: 26, Lk 24: 39; Acts 1: 8, 2.33). In reality, on Easter evening the Risen One breathed on the disciples and told them: "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20,22); and on the day of Pentecost the power of the Spirit descends on the Apostles in an extraordinary form (cf. Acts 2: 1-4). The 'Breath' of the Risen Christ fills the lungs of the Church with life; and in fact the mouths of the disciples, "filled with the Holy Spirit", open themselves to proclaim all the great works of God (cf. Acts 2: 1-11)".
"Pentecost is for the Church what for Christ was the anointing of the Spirit received at the Jordan, that is the missionary impulse to consume one’s life for the sanctification of men, to the glory of God. If the Spirit works in every sacrament, in the Confirmation “the faithful receive the Holy Spirit as Gift" (Paul VI, Const. ap., Divinae consortium naturae) in a special way ".
"If in Baptism it is the Holy Spirit to immerse ourselves in Christ, in Confirmation it is Christ who fills us with his Spirit, consecrating us as his witnesses, sharing the same principle of life and mission, according to the plan of the heavenly Father. The testimony given by the confirmed manifests the reception of the Spirit and docility to his creative inspiration. How do we see that we have received the Gift of the Spirit? Simply if we perform the works of the Spirit, if we speak words taught by the Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13). Christian witness consists in doing only and all that the Spirit of Christ asks of us, granting us the strength to do it ".
At the end of the audience, Francis received as a gift the shirts of the two finalist teams of ClericusCup, the pontifical football tournament which was attended by 16 teams composed of 370 priests and seminarians. The captains from the Pontifical Urban College and the North American Martyrs, the South African Sifiso Ndlovu and the American William Nyce who will be competing on Saturday 26 May with the ball blessed today by the Pope.