During his general audience, the Pontiff continued his reflection on Baptism, the sign of Christian faith
Pope Francis explained the power behind the Sign of the Cross, during his general audience on Wednesday, April 18, in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pontiff emphasized the meaning behind the sign of the cross that Christians make in times of danger, to protect themselves from evil. Every Christian should know how to make the sign of the cross, the Pope said, to show that they belong to Christ.
“All our life, words, thoughts, and actions, are under the sign of the cross, that is to say, under the sign of Christ’s love to the very end. Making the sign of the cross, when we wake up, before we eat, in the face of danger, or before going to sleep at night, means telling ourselves and others to Whom we belong, and who we want to be.”
Speaking to a crowd of 17,000 people who had come to hear the customary Papal catechesis, the Pontiff continued his reflection on Baptism, the sign of Christian faith.
Explaining the gestures and words of the Baptismal liturgy, the Pope emphasized that godparents and parents of the baptized should teach the children the meaning of the sign of the cross, and how to pray it properly.
This “helps us to understand better the gift received on the day of our Baptism, and to renew our commitment to correspond to it in the situations in which we find ourselves today.”
Francis explained the rite of baptism and the moment that precedes the sign of the cross: “While adult catechumens express in first person what they want to receive as a gift from the Church, the children are presented by their parents, with the godparents.”
The celebrant and the parents then make the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead, expressing in this way that the child is about to belong to Christ, who redeemed us by His cross.
The Pope once again mentioned a task he had entrusted to all the faithful during the previous audience: that of discovering the date of their own baptism, which is considered a “new birthday” in the spiritual life.
Why does the celebrant ask the name of the person to be baptized?
“During the welcoming rite [of baptism], the name of the candidate is asked, because a person’s name indicates his identity. […] God calls each of us by name, loving us individually… Baptism awakens the personal vocation to live as Christians, which will be developed throughout our entire life. And this implies a personal response, not a borrowed one, using ‘copy and paste.’ In reality, Christian life is made up of a series of calls and answers: God continues to say our name throughout the years, making resound in a thousand ways His call to become like His Son, Jesus,” the Pope said.
After giving his catechesis in Italian, the Pontiff greeted pilgrims in eight different languages. He mentioned many groups of pilgrims by name, encouraging them to live the Christian vocation received at baptism, to reading Scripture daily, and to entrust themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
At the end, he made an unexpected appeal for the life of little Alfie Evans, a British child whom doctors want to disconnect from life support, against the will of his parents.