Continuing his catechesis on the Creed, Pope Francis referred to the Sacrament of Confession as a “second Baptism” the reopens the door of faith and Christian life. Thousands of faithful packed St. Peter’s Square to listen to the Holy Father’s weekly General Audience.
Reflecting on the part of the Creed that states: “I believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins”, the Pope said that this reference indicates that the mission of the Church is to evangelize and to remit sins through the Baptismal sacrament.
The Holy Father divided the reference into three parts, focusing first on “I believe” which, he said, indicated the importance of Baptism.
“By pronouncing these words, we affirm our true identity as children of God,” the Pope said. “In a certain sense, Baptism is the identification card of the children of God, his certificate of birth, it is the birth certificate of the Church.”
When asking by a show of hands who remembered the date of their Baptism, the Holy Father called on those present to find it out as it was an important date – “the day in which you were born into the Church.”
“The day of our Baptism,” he said, “is the point of departure of a journey of conversion that lasts our whole life and which is continually sustained by the Sacrament of Penance.”
“Think of this: when we go to confess our weaknesses, our sins, we are asking forgiveness of Jesus, but we also go to renew our Baptism with this forgiveness. And this is beautiful, it is like celebrating the day of your Baptism in every Confession.”
The Holy Father went onto say that the sacrament of Confession should not be viewed as torture chamber but rather as a feast that cleans “the white garment of our Christian dignity.”
The Illumination of Baptism
Referring to the second element of his catechesis, Pope Francis stressed the importance of Baptism, calling it a cleansing of regeneration and illumination. The Holy Father explained the significance of the lit candle during the Rite of Baptism, which signifies the light of Christ that enlightens every man.”Baptism illuminates us from within with the light of Jesus,” he said.
“In virtue of this gift, the baptized are called to become “light” – the light of the faith they have received for their brothers, especially for those who are in darkness and do not perceive glimmers of light on the horizon of their life.”
“You must take the grace of Baptism, that is a gift, and become light for all!” the Pope exclaimed.
The 76 year old Pontiff concluded his catechesis by emphasizing the remission of sins that stems from the Sacrament of Baptism. A newness of life is opened through the Sacrament, thus, relieving “the weight of a negative past.”
“It is a powerful intervention of the mercy of God in our life, to save us. This salvific intervention does not take away from our human nature its weakness – we are all weak and we are all sinners – and it does not take away the responsibility to ask for forgiveness every time that we err!”
Though one can only be baptized once, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to confess regularly, which renews the grace of Baptism.
“The Lord Jesus is so good and he never tires of forgiving us. Even when the door that Baptism opened to enter into the Church is closed a bit because of our weakness and our sins, Confession reopens it, because it is like a second Baptism that forgives us all and illuminates us to go forward with the light of the Lord,” he said.