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Pope Francis begins 2014 with series on the Sacraments

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Pope Francis focused on the Sacrament of Baptism on Jan. 8, in his first General Audience of 2014. According to Zenit News Agency, Pope Francis began a series of lessons on the Sacraments by teaching about the Sacrament of Baptism. Pope Francis gave his lesson to the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his first General Audience.

“Baptism is the sacrament in which our faith is founded upon and which engages us as living members in Christ and in His Church,” the Holy Father said. Along with the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation, the Pope said that all three make-up a single event makes us a sign of God’s love,” Pope Francis stated. Pope Francis said that the three Sacraments of the Eucharist, Confirmation and Baptism make up a single event which makes us a sign of God’s love. The sacrament of Baptism, he emphasized, is not just a simple rite or formality, but an act that ‘profoundly touches our existence.’

“With Baptism we come immersed in that inexhaustible source of life that is the death of Jesus, the greatest act of love in all of history, and thanks to this love we can live a new life, no longer at the mercy of evil, of sin and death, but in the communion with God and with the brothers,” Pope Francis said. Answering a question often asked, the Holy Father called on the faithful to search for the date of their Baptism, which is the date of their birth into the life of Christ and his Church. “But the risk is to lose the memory of that which the Lord has done in us, the memory of the gift that we have received. We end up considering it as only an event that happened in the past, and not even by our own will, but that of our parents, that no longer has any effect in our present. We must awaken the memory of our Baptism!”

The Holy Father said that the Sacrament of Baptism in particular gives us the hope of walking down the path of salvation while making us believers of a new hope. “Thanks to Baptism, we are capable of forgiving and loving even those who offend us and hurt us, that we can recognize in the face of the needy, in those suffering, even in our neighbor, the face of Jesus. It is a grace of this strength of Baptism,” he said.

Pope Francis added, “Baptism is a gift that is given in a context of solicitude and fraternal sharing. Always in history, one baptizes another, and another. It is a chain, a chain of grace,” he said. “But I cannot baptize myself. I must ask another for Baptism. It is an act of brotherhood, an act of affiliation to the Church.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis exhorted those present to ask the Lord to experience in daily life the grace received in Baptism. In doing so, he said, “our brothers may encounter true children of God, true brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, true members of the Church.”

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