During his General Audience today, Wednesday 25 April, Pope Francis continued his catechism on the Sacrament of Baptism. Addressing those gathered on Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Pope Francis described Baptism as ‘the sacramental entry into the life of faith’.
Pope Francis said that those who request Baptism have responded to the Gospel which has prompted them to believe: ‘Educated by listening to Jesus, by His teaching and His works, the catechumens relive the experience of the Samaritan woman thirsty for living water, of the man blind from birth who opens his eyes to the light, of Lazarus coming out of the tomb. The Gospel carries within itself the strength to transform those who welcome it with faith, tearing them from the dominion of the wicked so that they may learn to serve the Lord with joy and newness of life.’
Pope Francis reflected, ‘We never go to the baptismal font alone, but rather we are accompanied by the prayer of the whole Church, as recalled by the litanies of the Saints preceding the prayer of exorcism and pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of the catechumens. They are gestures that, since ancient times, assure those who are preparing to be reborn as children of God that the Church’s prayer will assist them in the fight against evil, accompany them on the path of good, and help them to escape the power of sin to pass into kingdom of divine grace.
The Holy Father continued, ‘The Church prays, and prays for everyone, for all of us! We Church, let us pray for others. It is a beautiful thing to pray for others. How often we have no urgent need and so we do not pray. We must pray, joined to the Church, for others: “Lord, I ask you for those who are in need, for those who do not have faith…” Do not forget: the prayer of the Church is always ongoing.’
Pope Francis continued, ‘Baptism is not a magic formula, but a gift from the Holy Spirit, which enables those who receive it to fight against the “spirit of evil”, believing that God “sent his only Son into the world to cast out the power of Satan … to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness and bring him into the splendour of the kingdom of light” (Rite of Baptism for Infants, 56).
The Holy Father concluded, ‘It is difficult to fight against evil, to escape from its deceptions, to regain strength after a tiring struggle, but we must know that all of Christian life is a fight. But we must also know that we are not alone, that the Mother Church prays so that her children, regenerated in Baptism, do not succumb to the snares of the evil one but rather defeat them by the power of the Pasch of Christ. Strengthened by the Risen Lord, Who defeated the prince of this world (Jn 12: 31), we too can repeat with the faith of Saint Paul: “I can do all this through Him Who gives me strength” (Phil 4: 13). We can all win, win everything, but with the strength that comes to me from Jesus.’