Yesterday was the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, one more event in what Pope Benedict XVI calls "the manifestation cycle." To celebrate the feast Pope Benedict celebrated a very special Mass. Unlike the other Masses he presides over, this one was held in the magnificent Sistine Chapel and there were 14 very important people in attendance: seven baby girls and seven baby boys who were about to be baptized. The 14 little ones are the children of Swiss Guards and Vatican City employees.
In his homily Pope Benedict reminded the parents and Godparents that in asking for their children to be baptized they have also committed themselves to educating their children in the faith, and to making sure their own lives give witness to the Gospel and lead their children towards Christ. He noted that three different times during the rite of baptism parents and Godparents are asked if they are aware of this commitment, if they understand this commitment, and if they are willing to take on this duty. He said, "this suggests in some way that profession of faith and rejection of sin on the part of the parents and Godparents is a necessary prerequisite for the Church to confer Baptism on these children."
He also said that these children cannot yet fully understand the grace they have been given in the sacrament of baptism. Only through the example of their parents and Godparents, he explained, will these children be able to one day understand the grace they received in baptism and make a profession of faith with full knowledge and understanding of what it is they are professing.
Pope Benedict reminded the parents that the gift of faith, which is necessary now more than ever in a world filled with doubt and shadows, is a gift that can always be rediscovered and cultivated.
The Holy Father has performed baptisms on the Feast of Baptism of the Lord every year since he was elected, continuing a tradition begun by Pope John Paul II.
Photo credit: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters