Pope Francis said today that children have a right to be educated in the Christian faith.
He made this comment as he concluded his Wednesday catechesis cycle on baptism, noting how the symbols used even today in the sacrament stretch back to the very beginnings of the Church.
The pope spoke of the “spiritual effects” of the sacrament, which are “invisible to the eyes” but “operative in the heart” and symbolized by the white garment and lit candle the newly baptized receive.
He said that the clean, white garment was used from the first centuries of the Church, “recalling the splendour of life achieved in Christ and in the Holy Spirit.”
As well, the presentation of the flame drawn from the Paschal candle “also recalls the effect of Baptism.”
We are reminded that “we are not the light, but rather the light is Jesus Christ.”
“As the flame of the Paschal candle gives light to individual candles, so the love of the Risen Lord inflames the hearts of the baptized, filling them with light and heat. And for this reason, since the first centuries Baptism was also called ‘enlightenment’ and the baptized was named the enlightened one.'”
Turn to Him in every situation
The pope said that parents and godparents must “nurture the flame of baptismal grace in their children, helping them to persevere in faith.”
Citing the Rite of Baptism, he noted that it’s a child’s right to receive this guidance.
“‘Christian formation, which is their due, seeks to lead them gradually to learn God’s plan in Christ, so that they may ultimately accept for themselves the faith in which they have been baptized.'”
Francis described this presence of Christ in us as a light to guide us, a flame to warm us, “making us able to help those who make the way with us, until the inseparable communion with him.”
Francis concluded with a call to holiness:
At the end of these catecheses on Baptism, I repeat to each of you the invitation that I have expressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate: “Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to Him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23)” (15).