POPE BAPTIZES 28 INFANTS IN SISTINE CHAPEL

POPE BAPTIZES 28 INFANTS IN SISTINE CHAPEL

Sunday, in the splendor of the Sistine Chapel, in a tradition started by St. John Paul on the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, Pope Francis baptized 28 babies – 13 girls and 15 boys – born to Vatican employees. He told them, in an off the cuff homily, that Jesus’ first “sermon” was probably the sound of his crying in the stable at Bethlehem.

At one point, when the crying and cooing of the babies reached a cresendo, Francis joked, “the concert has begun!” He told the mothers, “if your children are crying because they are hungry, then go ahead and feed them, just as Mary breastfed Jesus.”  (photo news.va)

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He told his guests that faith does not just mean reciting the Creed on Sundays, but rather believing in the truth, trusting in God and teaching others through the example of our lives. Francis said faith is also the light that grows in our hearts – that’s why a lighted candle is given to every person being baptized. The Ppope told parents, “you have the task of making that faith grow, of nurturing it, so that it may bear witness to others.”

Later, at the noon Angelus, addressing shivering pilgrims in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis asked for prayers for all those living and dying on the streets at this time of year, noting that a number of homeless in Rome have already ready succumbed to the cold.

Papal Almoner Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, who spoke to Vatican Radio, said the three hostels run by the Vatican will remain open 24 hours a day during the spell of frigid weather. Several Vatican cars were also been made available, outside of Vatican City, on Via della Conciliazione, for those who wish to remain on the streets, but could be better protected in a car. In addition, special thermal sleeping bags and gloves are being brought to the homeless.

It has been so cold that the water in the fountains in St. Peter’s Square froze. I took these photos today as I walked through the square to film a segment for “At Home with Jim and Joy.”

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I did find one thing rather sad: workers were dismantling both the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene and they will surely be a thing of the past by tonight or tomorrow morning. Why is this sad? Because for all the decades I have lived here, if memory is correct, the tree and nativity scene have remained up until the February 2 feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, allowing a lot more visitors to Rome to view this seasonal gift by the Church to the faithful.

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POPE FRANCIS BAPTIZES 26 BABIES IN SISTINE CHAPEL – HOLY FATHER ADDRESSES DIPLOMATIC CORPS ON LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF YEAR PAST

I posted some stories and lot of travel and other info about the Holy Year in Rome on my Facebook page over the weekend, so you might want to pay a visit: http://www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, quoting the lyrics to Davis Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” sent out this tweet to commemorate the singer who died yesterday at the age of 69 after 18 months of fighting cancer: “Ground Control to Major Tom Commencing countdown, engines on Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (David Bowie).”

POPE FRANCIS BAPTIZES 26 BABIES IN SISTINE CHAPEL

Pope Francis on Sunday, during Mass in the Sistine Chapel, baptized 26 babies – 13 boys and 13 girls. This is always a special annual event as parents, god-parents and other family members wait with bated breath for this most important moment in the life of their child – and also wait to see if theirs will be the first baby to cry during the ceremony! In fact, as several babies were heard crying, Pope Francis told the mothers should feel free to feed their children whenever they are hungry. (photo: news.va)

POPE BAPTISMS

The Holy Father had celebrated Mass in the chapel for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. He told parents to nurture the faith, saying, “Don’t forget that the greatest inheritance you can give to your children is the faith. Try to see that it is not lost, nurture it and leave it as an inheritance.” In his homily, which was brief and off-the-cuff, Francis told parents that in bringing their children to the chapel to receive baptism, they are imitating the act of Mary and Joseph, who, 40 days after Jesus’ birth, brought him to the temple to present him to God.

Pope Francis noted that eventually the infants baptized will grow up to be parents themselves, and will ask the same thing for their own children. Future parents, he said, will ask for “the faith, the faith that is given in baptism, the faith that today brings the Holy Spirit into the hearts, souls and lives of these, your children.”

Later, at the noon Angelus, the Pope highlighted the baptism ceremony in the Sistine Chapel and asked the faithful in St. Peter’s Square: “Do you know the date of your baptism? If not, I will give you a homework assignment: Go home and find the date of your baptism – talk to your parents, god-parents or other relatives, perhaps even the parish.”

The Holy Father has previously asked the same question on a number of occasions, mostly at a Sunday Angelus.

Francis had a special blessing for all children recently baptized, and included adults and young people who are preparing or have recently received the Sacraments of Christian Initiation.

POPE ADDRESSES DIPLOMATIC CORPS ON LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF YEAR PAST

In a lengthy speech lasting over 30 minutes, Pope Francis today gave his annual address to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. Currently, 180 States, the European Union, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Permanent Mission of the State of Palestine are accredited to the Holy See. After being greeted in the Sala Regia by the new dean of the diplomatic corps, Armindo Fernandes do Espirito Santo Vieira, ambassador of Angola, Francis addressed the assembled diplomats. (photo: news.va)

DIPLOMATS

He looked at the year just past and highlighted its lights and shadows in a broad international overview. Though the greater part of his talk focused on the migration issue, he also addressed the arms trade, inter-religious dialogue, the need to overcome indifference, the “throwaway” culture so prevalent today, achieving “peace through religious experiences authentically lived,” terrorism and a theme very dear to him, especially in this Jubilee Year – mercy.

The Pope highlighted certain agreements concluded within the last year by the Holy See. He spoke of his trips, country by country. He spoke of the importance of the Jubilee of mercy and the quality of mercy.

He urged the ambassadors to reflect on “the poor, the marginalized and the ‘least’ of society,” noting the “grave crisis of migration we are facing, in order to discern its causes, to consider possible solutions, and to overcome the inevitable fears associated with this massive and formidable phenomenon, which in 2015 has mainly concerned Europe, but also various regions of Asia and North and Central America.”

“Many of the causes of migration could have been addressed some time ago. … Much could be done to end these tragedies and to build peace” but we must have the courage to question “entrenched habits and practices,” including “the arms trade, the provision of raw materials and energy, investment, policies of financing and sustainable development.” There must be “mid-term and long-term planning which is not limited to emergency responses” aime at providing “effective assistance for integrating migrants in their receiving countries” as well as promoting “the development of their countries of origin through policies inspired by solidarity.”

Francis asked the diplomats to attempt to “discern the causes and map out solutions” to the migratory emergency.

He said, “Europe must continue to take in migrants despite the massive landings and fears of terrorism” that “seem to shake” Europe’s welcome system: Europe must overcome “fears for security” and “not lose the foundations of its humanistic spirit.” He specifically thanked Italy as having “saved so many lives in the Mediterranean.”

The Holy Father also appealed for an end to “people trafficking, which turns human beings into a commodity, especially the weakest and most defenseless. … The images of children dead at sea are indelibly impressed in our minds and hearts.”

Francis noted that “we all look with hope to the important steps taken by the international community to reach a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria, to put an end to the suffering, which has lasted too long, of the population.”

On terrorism, he said only “common action” can defeat terrorism and extremism. “Only a distorted ideological form of religion can think that justice is done in the name of the Almighty by deliberately slaughtering defenseless persons, as in the brutal terrorist attacks which occurred in recent months in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.”

On another topic, he spoke to the national anti-usury board and called on the Holy Spirit to help “fight with all [our] force to defeat the widespread social plagues of usury and gambling.” This board is a consultative body that aims to coordinate efforts to fight usury and loan-sharking in all their forms.

The entire 4,010-word address may be found here: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-speech-to-diplomatic-corps