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Monday, January 10, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 9 JAN 2011 (VIS) - As is customary on today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this morning in the Sistine Chapel the Pope presided at the celebration of the Eucharist during which he baptised twenty-one newborn boys and girls, children of employees of the Vatican and the Holy See.

  In his homily the Pope explained how Baptism makes its recipients part of "the reciprocal exchange of love that exists in God between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By the gesture that I am about to perform", he said, "the love of God flows over them inundating them with His gifts. Through the washing of the water your children are made part of the life of Jesus, Who died on the cross to free us from sin and, rising again, defeated death".

  "By giving us the faith, the Lord gave us the most precious thing in life: the most authentic and most beautiful reason to live. ... The faith is a great gift with which He also gives us eternal life, which is true life. ... By receiving Baptism, these children are given an indelible spiritual seal, the 'character' which will exist forever as an interior mark of the fact that they belong to the Lord, and which makes them living members of His mystical body which is the Church. In becoming part of the People of God, a journey begins for these children today, which should be a journey of sanctity and conformity to Jesus. He is placed within them like the seed of a magnificent tree which must be allowed to grow".

  "Of course", the Pope went on, "a free and informed adherence to this life of faith and love will later become necessary, and this is why, following Baptism, children must be educated in the faith, instructed in accordance with the wisdom of Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Church so that the seed of faith they receive today may grow within them and they may achieve full Christian maturity.

  "The Church", he added, "which today welcomes them among her children must, with the parents and godparents, take on the responsibility of accompanying them on this journey of development. Collaboration between the Christian community and the family is more necessary than ever in the current social context in which the institution of the family is threatened on many sides and finds itself having to face no small number of difficulties in its mission to educate in the faith. The collapse of stable points of cultural reference and the rapid and continual transformation of society make the task of education truly difficult. Hence it is necessary that parishes make every effort to support families, small domestic Churches, in their duty to transmit the faith", the Holy Father concluded.
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