During the General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis prayed for war ravaged eastern Ukraine and reflected on the Sacrament of Confirmation.

“Only the Spirit of Christ can make us “salt that gives taste” and “light that illuminates the world” said Pope Francis during his catechesis on Wednesday morning.

He was speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience during which he continued in his series of reflections dedicated to the Sacraments.

Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing

Pointing out that without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing, the Pope focused on the Sacrament of Confirmation, which he said, owes its name to the fact that it “confirms” the grace of our Baptism.

He explained that during Confirmation we are anointed with the “chrism” – the oil mixed with perfume that has been consecrated by the bishop – so that we can bear witness to Christ before the world.

That’s why, he said, we speak of being “Anointed by the Holy Spirit”.

Pope Francis went on to explain that with Baptism one is reborn to new life while with Confirmation we are given the strength to go forward as Christians.

“Without the strength of the Holy Spirit we can do nothing: it is the Spirit that gives us the strength to move forward” he said.

Becoming salt and light

The Pope recalled Pentecost as a central moment in the life of a Christian. It’s when “the ‘Breath’ of the Risen Christ fills the lungs of the Church with life” he said explaining that just as Christ was anointed by the Spirit at his baptism in the Jordan, so at Pentecost the Church received the Spirit in order to carry out her mission of preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

He said that in Confirmation, we are given the great gift of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis noted that whilst the bishop anoints the person receiving Confirmation he says: “Receive the Holy Spirit who was given to you as a gift”. The Holy Spirit, he continued is God’s great gift to us. It is in our heart and in our soul, he said, and it guides us in life so that we may become salt and light for the world.

Christian witness is doing what the Spirit asks of us

The Pope highlighted that during Confirmation it is Christ who fills us with his Spirit and makes us sharers of his own life and mission, in accordance to God’s saving plan.

He said that to be a true Christian we must let ourselves be guided by the Spirit and strive to live the new life received in Baptism and take an active role in fulfilling the Church’s mission in the world.

Prayer for Ukraine

Pope Francis had words of special greeting for a group of pilgrims from Ukraine who were present in the square.

“I pray the Lord continuously to heal the wounds inflicted by war in Ukraine and to give his peace to the beloved Ukrainian land” he said.

By Linda Bordoni

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