Confirmation is a sacrament that completes our bond with Christ and His Church: that’s what Pope Francis told tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered Wednesday for the weekly General Audience.
The Pope, bundled up in a white winter coat on this frigid and overcast day, continued his catechesis on the seven Sacraments, telling the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square that Confirmation is “linked inseparably to Baptism.” These two sacraments, together with the Eucharist, the Holy Father said, “form a unique salvific event: Christian initiation” in which we become living members of the Church.
Through our anointing with the sacred chrism, Confirmation strengthens and “confirms” us in the grace of our Baptism, uniting “us more firmly to Christ.” Confirmation “completes our bond with the Church,” he noted, and “grants us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith, to confess the name of Christ and to never be ashamed of his cross.”
The working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, he noted, is reflected in the seven spiritual gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis several times urged families to ensure their children receive the sacrament of Confirmation, without which, he stressed, they’ve only come “half-way.”
When we welcome the Holy Spirit in our hearts, Christ Himself becomes present in us and takes form in our lives, the Pope said. Through us and our actions, it will be He “who prays and forgives, gives hope and consolation, serves our brothers, helps those in need,” and helps spread communion and peace.
In remarks following his catechesis, Pope Francis challenged authorities to make employment, “a source of dignity, everyone’s central concern.” He also condemned all forms of usury, saying that when families cannot eat because they have to pay off loan sharks, “it is not Christian; it is not human.”