Pope: Today's Families Need Help From Parishes

Baptizes 21 Infants; Notes Challenges Facing Parents

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The social context that Christian families face today demands collaboration from the Christian community and increasing support from parishes, according to Benedict XVI.

The Pope asserted this today when he celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Following tradition, he baptized a group of infants during the celebration.

Reflecting on the gift of the sacrament, he told the parents of the 21 infants that baptism «inserts them into this reciprocal exchange of love that exists in God between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; by this gesture that I am going to perform, the love of God is poured out upon them, inundating them with his gifts.»

«By being bathed in the water, your children are inserted into the life itself of Jesus, who died on the cross to free us from sin, and rising, conquered death,» the Pontiff added. «So, spiritually immersed in his death and resurrection, [these children] are freed from original sin and in them the life of grace begins, which is the very life of the risen Jesus.»

A gift for babies

The Holy Father noted that the Church, understanding the «magnitude of this gift,» has from the earliest centuries baptized newborns.

«Certainly, there will also be the need of a free and conscious adherence to this life of faith and love,» the Pontiff acknowledged, saying that the children must be «educated in faith, instructed according to the wisdom of sacred Scripture and the Church’s teachings, so that the seeds of faith that they receive today can grow, and they can reach full Christian maturity.»

He affirmed that in this effort, the Church itself plays a crucial role: «The Church, who welcomes them among her children, is responsible, together with the parents and godparents, for accompanying them on this path of growth.»

In fact, the Bishop of Rome stated, today the Church’s collaboration is needed in a particular way.

«The collaboration between the Christian community and the family is much needed in the current social context in which the institution of the family is threatened from many sides and finds itself faced with many difficulties in its mission to teach the faith,» he said. «The disappearance of stable cultural references and the rapid transformation that society continually undergoes, make the educational task truly difficult.

«Therefore, it is necessary that parishes increasingly strive to support families, the little domestic Churches, in their work of passing on the faith.»

Benedict XVI concluded his homily by joining with the parents in thanking God for the gift of baptism. «[I]n lifting up our prayer for them,» he said, «we invoke the abundant gift of the Holy Spirit, who today consecrates them in the image of Christ as priest, prophet and king. Entrusting them to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, we ask for them life and health so that they can grow and mature in the faith, and bear, with their lives, the fruits of holiness and love.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31394?l=english

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