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Pope: You don’t know the anguish kids feel when parents fight in front of them

HANDOUT / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP
January 13, 2019 Pope Francis baptizes an infant in the Sistine Chapel
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Francis tells couples that arguments are normal, but implores them to keep the fighting away from the children

In keeping with tradition, Pope Francis on Sunday baptized 27 children in the Sistine Chapel, on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

In his brief homily, he spoke about the importance of transmitting the faith in the home, since faith is “transmitted” more than “taught.”

He also offered some specific advice about arguments and about teaching children to make the Sign of the Cross. Here is an Aleteia translation of his homily.

~

At the beginning of the ceremony, you were asked the question: “What do you ask for your children?” And you replied, “Faith.” You ask the Church for faith for your children, and today they will receive the Holy Spirit, and each one [will receive ]the gift of faith in their own heart, in their own soul.

But this faith must then develop; it must grow. Yes, someone could say to me, “Yes, yes, they must study it…” Yes, when they go to catechism class they will study the faith well; they will learn the catechesis. But more than being studied, faith is transmitted, and that’s a task that falls to you. It’s a responsibility that you receive today: transmit the faith, pass on the faith. And this happens at home. Because faith is always transmitted “in dialect”: the dialect of the family, the dialect of the home, in the environment of the home.

This is your responsibility: transmit the faith with your example, with words, teaching them to make the Sign of the Cross. This is important. Look, there are children who don’t know how to make the Sign of the Cross. “Make the sign of the Cross” [someone asks them], and they do something like this, [gesturing] and you can’t understand what it is. To start with, teach them this.

But what’s important is to teach them the faith with your life of faith: they should see your love as spouses, see peace in the home, see that Jesus is there. And I allow myself to give a piece of advice — forgive me, but here is what I recommend: Never fight in front of your children, ever. You don’t know the anguish that children feel when they see their parents fight. This, I allow myself to say, is a piece of advice that will help you to transmit the faith. Is it ugly to fight? Not always, because it’s normal, it’s normal. But don’t let the children see, or hear, because of the anguish [they will feel].

And now we will continue with the Baptism ceremony, but keep this in mind: your responsibility is to transmit the faith to them. Transmit it at home, because that’s where faith is learned; then it’s studied in catechism class, but faith is received at home.

And before continuing, I’d like to say something else: you know that the babies feel like they’re in a strange environment today: a bit too hot… They’re all covered up… And the air feels stifling to them…. As well they cry because they’re hungry; they’re hungry. A third reason for their crying is “preventative crying.”  It’s an odd thing: they don’t know what will happen, and they think, “I’ll cry first, then we’ll see…” It’s a form of defense. I say to you: let them be comfortable. Be attentive not to cover them up too much. And if they cry because they’re hungry, nurse them. To the moms, I say: nurse your babies, don’t worry, the Lord wants this. Because, where’s the danger? [The babies] have a vocation to polyphony: one begins to cry, then the other provides the counterpoint, and then the other, and in the end there’s a choir of crying!

And thus, we continue this ceremony, in peace, with the awareness that you have the task of passing on the faith.
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