For the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis has baptized 27 babies (12 baby boys and 15 baby girls) during the Mass he celebrated this morning in the Sistine Chapel. During his homily, he reminded the parents of the importance of passing on the faith to their children and the great responsibility it entails. He also acknowledged the cries which resonated in the chapel, and recognizing that some of the babies could be hungry, reminded mothers to feel free to nurse their children as they normally would do.
Below is a ZENIT working translation by ZENIT Vatican Correspondent Deborah Castellano Lubov of the Pope’s brief off-the-cuff homily:
At the beginning of the ceremony, you were all posed a question: what do you ask for your children? And you all responded: the faith. You ask to the Church, the faith, for your children. And today, they will receive the Holy Spirit, the gift of the faith in their heart, in their spirit. And this faith must develop. It must grow. Someone could say: yes, yes, they need to study it. Yes. When they go to catechesis, they will study well the faith. They will learn the faith. But before studying the faith, the faith must be transmitted, and this is a task that falls on you… This is your task: the transmission of the faith. And this you do at home, because the faith always must be transmitted in dialect, in the dialect of the family, of the home… This is your task, to transmit the faith with example, with words, teaching them how to make the Sign of the Cross. This is important. You know there are children who do not know how to make the Sign of the Cross. They do something like this [and the Pope demonstrated how some who have no idea of how to make the Sign of the Cross attempt to do it], and you do not understand what it is.
The important thing is to transmit the faith with your life of faith, that they see the love of the spouses, the peace of the home, that they see that Jesus is there. If you allow me to give a piece of advice: Excuse me, but I advise: never argue in front of the children. Never. It is normal that spouses fight. It is normal. It would be strange if this never happened. But do it when they do not hear it, do not see it. You all do not know the anguish that a child experiences when they hear their parents quarrel. I allow myself to give you this advice that will help you all to transmit the faith. It is bad to fight, but not always. It is normal, but doing so that the children do not hear or see it, that they do not experience that anguish.
Now, we will continue the Baptism ceremony. Keep this in mind: your task is to transmit the faith to them the faith, to transmit it at home, because there, you learn the faith, then you study it at catechesis.
But before continuing, I want to say another thing: the babies today find themselves in a strange environment..perhaps they feel overheated, a little too covered up. Perhaps they feel there temperature is off. They cry for these reasons.
They cry also because they are hungry. They are hungry. The third type of crying: is a ‘preventive’ crying. It is not a strange thing. They do not know what is going to happen. [One starts and thinks] ‘I cry first.’ Then what ends up happening is that. Then we will see. It is a defensive move. The thing important is that they are comfortable. Be careful to not cover them [overheat] them too much.
If they cry for hunger, nurse them. To the mommies, I say: do not be afraid to nurse the babies tranquilly. The Lord wants this, because they, when there is danger, have a polyphonic calling. One begins to cry, then soon another, and the next, and the next. Then, it will be a chorus of crying.
We go ahead in this ceremony, in peace, with the awareness that falls on you: the transmission of the faith.[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]