Speaking to parents in his homily on Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Holy Father reflected on the parental duty of transmitting the faith to the next generation.
“You have asked the Church for faith for your children, and today they will receive the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith in each one’s heart and soul.”
But, Pope Francis said, “this faith must be developed; it must grow.”
Before children study the faith in catechism classes, he said, their parents must transmit it at home, “because the faith is always transmitted ‘in dialect’,” that is, the native language spoken in the environs of the home.
The Pope said parents transmit the faith through their example and words, and by teaching their children to make the Sign of the Cross.
He said the faith must be transmitted “with your faith-filled lives”, so children see married love and peace within the family home. “May they see Jesus there.”
Then Pope Francis gave parents a word of advice.
“Never fight in front of your children,” he said. “It’s normal that parents should argue; the opposite would be strange. Do it, but without letting them hear or see.”
“You have no idea the anguish it causes a child to see his or her parents fight.”
He said this was a word of advice “that will help you to transmit the faith.”
Finally, Pope Francis invited the parents present at the ceremony to make their children comfortable, and to breastfeed them if they were hungry.
“To you mothers I say: Breastfeed your children, don’t worry. The Lord wants this.”