Pope baptizes 34 babies, says faith can't grow without love at home

By Elise Harris

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Pope Francis baptizes 26 infants in the Sistine Chapel Jan. 10, 2016. Credit: Vatican Media.

Keeping with papal tradition, Pope Francis marked the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord by celebrating Mass in the Sistine Chapel, during which he baptized 34 infants, telling parents that love at home is the first requirement of passing on the faith.

“If there is no love at home, if the language of love isn't spoken between mother and father at home, you can't do it,” the Pope said Jan. 7, telling parents to “transmit the faith, but do it with the love of the family, at home.”

He celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel, as he does each year on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, during which he baptizes several infants. This year he administered the Sacrament of Baptism on 34 babies, 16 boys and 18 girls.

In his brief, off-the-cuff homily, the Pope told parents that in baptizing their children, they are making the “first step” in the task of transmitting the faith.

“We need the Holy Spirit to transmit the faith, or else we can't do it,” he said, adding that to transmit the faith “is a grace of the Holy Spirit.”

However, even with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Francis stressed that truly transmitting the faith to one's children “can only be done in love; in the love of the family, of the father and mother, grandmother and grandfather.”

Catechists come later in life to help in transmitting the faith with “ideas and explanations,” he said, but told parents “don't forget this: have love.”

He also told parents to be childlike in their own prayer, saying children communicate in the only way they can, but “it's the language Jesus likes a lot.”

“Jesus advises us to be like them, to speak like them. May your prayers be simple like children,” he said, telling parents that in their own prayer, “say it in your heart like they do” when they cry, and “the Lord will teach you how to be like them, how to speak to them.”

Francis closed his homily telling mothers that if the babies cry and “start to have a concert” because they are uncomfortable or hungry, to breastfeed them without fear or hesitation if it is the latter, “because this is also a language of love.”

After celebrating Mass, the Pope will then make his way to the Apostolic Palace, where he will lead pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer, as he does every Sunday.

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