POPE’S MESSAGE | Confirmation gives Catholics strength to be led by God

Paul Haring | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Everyone who has received the sacrament of confirmation has received the gift of the Holy Spirit, who guides them and gives them the strength to follow God's will, Pope Francis said.

"Every one of us has the Spirit within us. The Spirit is in our heart, our soul," the pope said May 22 at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Having concluded a series of audience talks about the sacrament of baptism, and having celebrated Pentecost May 20, the pope began a new series of talks on the sacrament of confirmation. The apostles received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and they — like their successors, the world's bishops — were granted the power to invoke the Holy Spirit upon those who have been baptized.

Jesus gave His disciples a truly great mission — to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, the pope said.

"These are images that make us think about our behavior because both the lack of and any excess of salt makes food revolting, just as a lack of and too much light hinder sight," he said.

The only one who can guarantee each person has been given just the right amount of salt and light is Christ's Spirit, who makes sure His disciples are "the salt that gives flavor and protects against decay and the light that illuminates the world," the pope said.

"The Spirit guides us in life so that we become the right salt and the right light for humanity," he said.

After one is reborn to divine life in baptism, he said, the next step is to live like true children of God, conforming oneself to Christ and sharing in the mission of the Church.

The sacrament of confirmation, he said, is about confirming the grace of baptism and anointing people with the Holy Spirit to bear witness to Christ in the world.

"How do we see if we have received the gift of the Spirit?" the pope asked. "If we fulfill the works of the Spirit, if we speak with words taught by the Spirit."

"Christian witness consists of doing only and everything that the Spirit of Christ asks us while granting us the strength to do it," he said.

After his main audience talk, the pope greeted Ukrainians who took part in the International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes May 17-22.

"I constantly pray the Lord may heal the wounds inflicted by war and grant His peace to beloved Ukraine," he said. 

Pope prays that Catholics in China may live their faith in peace

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis asked people to pray for Catholics in China so that they may be able to live their faith with serenity and in full communion with the pope.

The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians May 24. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI established the feast as a world day of prayer for the Church in China because Mary is venerated under that title at the Marian shrine in Sheshan, outside Shanghai, China.

At the end of his general audience talk in St. Peter's Square May 23, Pope Francis said the feast day "invites us to be united spiritually with all the Catholic faithful who live in China."

He asked people pray to Our Lady so that Catholics there would be able "to live the faith with generosity and serenity" and so that they would know how to carry out "concrete gestures of fraternity, harmony and reconciliation, in full communion with the successor of Peter."

"Dear disciples of the Lord in China, the universal Church prays with you and for you so that even in the midst of difficulties you may continue to trust in God's will," he said.

— Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service 

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