Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “The only master of life is God and it is our duty to do everything to preserve life”, stated Pope Francis today that at the end of the general audience once again appealing for prayers for Alfie Evans – whose father, Tomas, was received this morning by the Pope – and Vincent Lambert. In both cases, the first in England, the second in France, magistrates want to decree death through the interruption of hydration and nutrition. “I want to draw attention once again – he said – to Vincent Lambert and little Alfie Evans, and I would like to reiterate and strongly reaffirm that the only master of life, from the beginning of life to its natural end, is God! And our duty, our duty is to do everything to preserve life. Let us meditate on this in silence and pray”.
Previously, to the 20 thousand people present in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke about the celebration of Baptism which “is the beginning of a process that allows one to live united to Christ in the Church”. This is why it is important to remember the day of our baptism and to teach children to make good the sign of the cross that is “the seal of Christ” and “the ID that shows who we are”. Baptism, “a sign of the Christian faith”, was the subject to which Pope Francis dedicated catechesis for today’s general audience.
During the audience, the Pope also addressed a thought to the spring meetings of the World Bank that will begin next Saturday in Washington. “I encourage – he said – the efforts that, through financial inclusion, seek to promote the lives of the poorest, fostering genuine development that is respectful of human dignity”.
The celebration of baptism, he said in his catechesis, “arouses a spiritual dynamic that permeates the entire life of the baptized; it is the beginning of a process that allows one to live united to Christ in the Church. Therefore, returning to the source of Christian life leads us to understand better the gift received on the day of our Baptism and to renew the commitment to respond to it in the condition in which we find ourselves today “. And to “better understand this gift”, Francis once again gave those present “homework”, to remember the day of their Baptism. “I know that some know it, some do not, those who do not know should ask relatives, godparents” to “celebrate this second birthday”.
“First of all, in the rite of initiation, the candidate’s name is asked, because the name indicates the identity of a person. When we introduce ourselves, we immediately say our name, so as to emerge from anonymity. Without a name you remain unknown, without rights and duties. God calls each one of us by name, loving us individually, in the concreteness of our history. Baptism ignites the personal vocation to live as Christians, which will develop throughout life. And it implies a personal and not copied response, as if it were a ‘copy and paste’. In fact, Christian life is interwoven with a series of calls and responses: God continues to pronounce our name over the years, making His call to conform to His Son Jesus resound in a thousand ways. Our name is therefore important! Parents think of the name to give to the child even before the child’s birth: this too is part of the expectation of a child who, in their own name, will have their original identity, even for their Christian life tied to God. Of course, becoming a Christian is a gift that comes from above (cf. Jn 3: 3-8). Faith cannot be bought, but to be asked for yes, and to receive as a gift yes. Lord, give me the gift of faith, it is a beautiful prayer “.
“If adult catechumens show firsthand that they want to receive as a gift from the Church, children are presented by their parents, with their godparents. Dialogue with them, allows them to express the will that children receive Baptism and the Church intends to celebrate it. “The expression of all this is the sign of the cross, which the celebrant and his parents trace on the foreheads of children” (Rite of the Baptism of Children, Introd., No. 16). “The sign of the cross expresses the imprint of Christ on the one who is about to belong to him and signifies the grace of redemption that Christ has acquired for us through his cross” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1235) .”
“The cross is the ID that shows who we are: our speaking, thinking, looking, working is under the sign of the cross, that is, of the love of Jesus to the end. The children are marked on their forehead. Adult catechumens are also marked on the senses, with these words: “Receive the sign of the cross on your ears to hear the voice of the Lord”; “On your eyes to see the splendor of the face of God”; “On your mouth, to answer the word of God”; “On your chest, so that Christ dwells through faith in your hearts”; “On your shoulders, to support the gentle yoke of Christ” (Rite of the Christian initiation of adults, No. 85). Christians become the extent to which the cross is imprinted in us as a sign of “Easter” (cf. Rev 14: 1, 22: 4), making visible, even outwardly, the Christian way of facing life. Making the sign of the cross when we wake up, before meals, before a danger, to defend against evil, the night before sleep means we are telling ourselves and others who we belong to, who we want to be. This is why it is so important to teach children to do the sign of the cross properly. And, as we do when we enter the church, we can do it at home, keeping a little holy water in a small vase: so, every time we leave our home or return, in making the sign of the cross with that water, we remember that we are baptized.”