Pope Francis Sunday baptized 28 babies during Mass in the Sistine Chapel, reminding parents that by asking for the Sacrament of Baptism, the gift of faith, for their child, they have a responsibility to guard it and to help it deepen.
“The faith is to believe what is the truth. God the Father who sent his son, and the spirit who gives life,” he said Jan. 8. “But faith is also to trust in God, and that you must teach them, with your example, with your life.”
Pope St. John Paul II started the custom for the Pope to baptize babies in the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
The Baptism of the Lord is typically celebrated by the Church on the Sunday following Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, unless in a particular country the Epiphany is celebrated on Jan. 7 or 8, as it is in the US. In that instance the Baptism of the Lord is then celebrated the following Monday.
In his homily, Pope said faith “must be lived,” a journey that must be walked and which must give “witness.”
“And the faith is light: in the baptismal ceremony you will be given a lighted candle, as in the early days of the Church. And for this reason Baptism, in those days, was called ‘illumination,’ because faith illuminates the heart, makes things seen with a different light,” he said.
During the liturgy, in which the Pope baptized 15 boys and 13 girls, some of the infants started to cry. Francis then commented on the “concert” which was starting in the chapel, saying that he likes to think that Jesus’ first sermon was to cry while in the stable in Bethlehem.
He also assured mothers not to worry about nursing their children if they needed to be fed, saying they should do so “without fear, with total normality,” just as Mary likely nursed the baby Jesus.
In asking for Baptism, “you asked for the faith,” Pope Francis reminded the parents. “The Church gives the faith to your children through Baptism, and you have the task to make it grow, preserve it, and it becomes a testimony to all the others. This is the meaning of this ceremony.”
Concluding, he noted how the task for parents of growing and guarding the faith in their children is a “testimony for all of us: even for us clergy, priests, bishops, everyone."v