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Monday, January 9, 2012

THE POPE BAPTISES SIXTEEN CHILDREN IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL


VATICAN CITY, 8 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Sistine Chapel the Pope presided at the celebration of the Eucharist for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, during which he baptised sixteen newborn infants.

  In his homily Benedict XVI commented on today's responsorial psalm from the Book of Isaiah, to which the faithful respond: "With joy we will draw water from the wells of salvation". He explained: "As adults, we have undertaken to draw from good wells, for our own benefit and that of the people entrusted to our care. You in particular, dear parents and godparents, do so for the benefit of these children. And what are the 'wells of salvation'? They are the Word of God and the Sacraments.

  "Adults", the Pope added, "are the first who should draw from these wells, in order to guide young people in their development. Parents must give a great deal, but in order to give they must also receive, otherwise they become empty and dry. Parents are not the well, just as we priests are not the well: we are the channels through which the vital lymph of God's love must pass. If we detach ourselves from the well, ... we are no longer able to educate others".

  "The first and most important form of education comes about through witness", the Holy Father went on, turning his attention to the Gospel reading. "John the Baptist was a great educator of his disciples, because he led them to the encounter with Jesus, to Whom he bore witness. ... True educators do not bind people to themselves, they are not possessive. They want their children or disciples to learn to know the truth, and to establish a personal relationship therewith. Educators carry out their responsibilities to the full by maintaining an attentive and faithful presence, but their objective is to ensure that their pupils hear the voice of truth, ... and follow that voice on an individual journey".

  St. John the Evangelist writes: "the Spirit is the one that testifies". For this reason "it is very important for parents and godparents to believe strongly in the presence and action of the Holy Spirit, to invoke and accept Him ... through prayer and the Sacraments. It is, in fact, He Who illuminates the minds of educators and warms their hearts, enabling them to transmit knowledge and love of Jesus. Prayer is the main premise for education, because through prayer we put ourselves in a position whereby we leave the initiative to God. ... At the same time, when we pray we listen to God Who inspires us to play our role well, that role which is in any case ours and which we must carry out. The Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance, enable us to undertake our educational activity in union with Christ, in communion with Him and continually renewed by His forgiveness".

  The Pope concluded by entrusting the newly baptised infants to the Blessed Virgin, "that they may grow in age, wisdom and grace, and become true Christians, faithful and joyful witnesses of the love of God".
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