Pope's message

Stories from the (hopefully) weekly catholic perspectives piece that has to do with Pope Francis' weekly message.

POPE'S MESSAGE | Don't skip Sunday Mass; people need communion with God, Church

VATICAN CITY -- It's important to go to Mass every Sunday because that's where people receive Christ who saves, forgives and unites everyone to His Father, Church and each other, Pope Francis said.

It's also "important that children are well prepared for first Communion because ... after baptism and confirmation it is the first step toward belonging strongly, really strongly, to Jesus Christ," he said Feb. 5 at his weekly general audience.

Make sure your children are confirmed

Pope Francis watched as children released doves from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Jan. 26. The two young people at his side launched doves to highlight the Church’s call for peace in the world.

VATICAN CITY -- Many Catholic parents go to great lengths to ensure their children are baptized, and they must make similar efforts to see that their children are confirmed, Pope Francis said.

Without confirmation, he said, young people will remain "halfway" on the path of Christian maturity and membership in the Church.

Confirmation "unites us more solidly to Christ. It completes our bond with the Church," Pope Francis said Jan. 29 at his weekly general audience.

POPE'S MESSAGE | Divisions among Christians are 'a scandal'

Pope Francis embraced a boy during a pastoral visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Rome Jan. 19.

VATICAN CITY -- The divisions that exist among Christians are a source of pain and scandal, and damage the credibility and work of spreading the Gospel, Pope Francis said.

"Christ's name creates communion and unity, not division. He came to create communion among us, not to divide us!" the pope said during his general audience address Jan. 22 in St. Peter's Square.

The pope's audience took place during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25. A group of Christians from different communities in Canada chose the theme for the 2014 observance -- "Has Christ been divided?"

Persecuted Christians must hunker down, hold tight to God, hope

Pope Francis baptized an infant in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 12. The pope baptized 32 children during the celebration on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

VATICAN CITY

Christians facing difficulties and discrimination, especially in the Middle East, can learn a valuable lesson from Japanese Christians who survived by clandestinely baptizing, praying and hiding during 250 years of harsh persecution, Pope Francis said.

"Difficulties and persecution, when they are lived with trust, confidence and hope, purify the faith and strengthen it," he said in his general audience talk in St. Peter's Square Jan. 15.

Baptism gives strength to forgive enemies, love poor

Pope Francis accepted a bag of crackers as he greeted people while leaving his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Jan. 8.

VATICAN CITY -- Baptism isn't just some formal ritual, it profoundly changes people, giving them unwavering hope and the strength to forgive and love others, Pope Francis said.

"With baptism, we are immersed in that inexhaustible source of life that is Jesus' death, the greatest act of love in all of history," he said during his first general audience of 2014.

In new year, step outside your comfort zone, get involved

Pope Francis visited the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square after leading an evening prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 31.

VATICAN CITY -- The new year will be brighter only if everyone steps outside their safe havens, gets involved and works together to solve local problems with generosity and love, Pope Francis said.

As 2013 comes to a close, let everyone ask God for forgiveness and thank Him for his patience and love, the pope said as he presided over a Dec. 31 evening prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica.

May Mary "teach us to welcome God made man so that every year, every month, every day be overflowing with His eternal love," he said on the eve of the feast honoring her as Mother of God.

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