Father, anoint me with your Holy Spirit,
so that as I read Your eternal word,
Your word may penetrate my whole being
and transform me.
Grant me the blessing to be a faithful disciple
in believing the Word of God
and that I may be a light shining
upon all who are in darkness.
Lord Jesus Christ, by Your patience in suffering
you hallowed earthly pain
and gave us the example of obedience to your Father’s will:
Be near me in my time of weakness and pain;
sustain me by Your grace,
that my strength and courage may not fail;
heal me according to Your will;
and help me always to believe
that what happens to me here
is of little account if You hold me in eternal life,
my Lord and my God. Amen.
Oh, God, make me a better parent.
Help me to understand my children,
to listen patiently to what they have to say
and to answer all their questions kindly.
Keep me from interrupting them,
talking back to them and contradicting them.
Make me as courteous to them
as I would have them be to me.
Give me the courage to confess my sins
against my children and to ask of them forgiveness,
when I know that I have done them wrong.
May I not vainly hurt the feelings of my children.
Forbid that I should laugh at their mistakes or
resort to shame and ridicule as punishment.
Let me not tempt a child to lie and steal.
So guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate
by all I say and do that honestly produces happiness.
Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me.
May I cease to nag:
and when I am out of sorts,
help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue.
Blind me to the little errors of my children
and help me to see the good things that they do.
Give me a ready word for honest praise.
Help to treat my children as those of their own age,
but let me not exact of them the judgments
and conventions of adults.
Allow me not to rob them of the opportunity
to wait upon themselves,
to think, to choose, and to make decisions.
Forbid that I should ever punish them
for my self satisfaction.
May I grant them all of their wishes
that are reasonable and have the courage always to withhold
a privilege that I know will do them harm.
Bless Our Family
All praise to You, Lord Jesus,
Lover of children:
Bless our family,
And help us to lead our children to You.
Give us light and strength,
And courage when our task is difficult.
Let Your Spirit fill us with love and peace,
So that we may help our children to love You.
All glory and praise are Yours, Lord Jesus,
Forever and ever.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
Prayers to Our Lady
The six fundamental prayers listed above are also part of the Catholic rosary, a devotion dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God. (CCC 971) The rosary consists of fifteen decades. Each decade focuses upon a particular mystery in the life of Christ and his Blessed Mother. It is customary to say five decades at a time, while meditating upon one set of mysteries.
I. The Annunciation
II. The Visitation
III. The Birth of our Lord
IV. The Presentation of our Lord
V. The Finding of our Lord in the Temple
I. The Agony in the Garden
II. The Scourging at the Pillar
III. The Crowning with Thorns
IV. The Carrying of the Cross
V. The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord
I. The Resurrection
II. The Ascension
III. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
IV. The Assumption of our Blessed Mother into Heaven
V. The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth
Hail Holy Queen
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our light, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we turn to thee, O Virgin of virgins, our Mother. To thee we come, before thee we stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, do not despise our petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer us. Amen.
The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. (Hail Mary . . .) Behold the handmaid of the Lord. R. Be it done unto me according to thy word. (Hail Mary …) And the Word was made flesh. R. And dwelt among us. (Hail Mary …) Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Let us pray: Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts; that, we to whom the incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer Before Meals
Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer to Our Guardian Angel
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
O my God, at the end of this day I thank you most heartily for all the graces I have received from you. I am sorry that I have not made a better use of them. I am sorry for all the sins I have committed against you. Forgive me, O my God, and graciously protect me this night. Blessed Virgin Mary, my dear heavenly mother, take me under your protection. St. Joseph, my dear guardian angel, and all you saints of God, pray for me. Sweet Jesus, have pity on all poor sinners, and save them from hell. Have mercy on the suffering souls in purgatory.
Generally, this evening prayer is followed by an act of contrition, which is usually said in conjunction with an examination of conscience. A daily examination of conscience consists of a brief recounting of our actions during the day. What sins did we commit? Where did we fail? In what areas of our lives can we strive to make virtuous progress? Having determined our failures and sins, we make an act of contrition.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
Prayer after Mass
Soul of Christ, make me holy. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, fill me with love. Water from Christ’s side, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. Good Jesus, hear me. Within your wounds, hide me. Never let me be parted from you. From the evil enemy, protect me. At the hour of my death, call me, and tell me to come to you that with your saints I may praise you through all eternity. Amen.
Prayers to the Holy Spirit
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe into me Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray
O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayers to the Angels and Saints
Prayer to Saint Joseph
O glorious Saint Joseph, you were chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, the most pure spouse of Mary, ever virgin, and the head of the Holy Family. You have been chosen by Christ’s vicar as the heavenly patron and protector of the Church founded by Christ.
Protect the Holy Father, our sovereign pontiff, and all bishops and priests united with him. Be the protector of all who labor for souls amid the trials and tribulations of this life, and grant that all peoples of the world may follow Christ and the Church he founded.
Dear St. Joseph, accept the offering I make to you. Be my father, protector, and guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me purity of heart and a love for the spiritual life. After your example, let all my actions be directed to the greater glory of God, in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and your own paternal heart. Finally, pray for me that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.
Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Today I greet you in the name of Jesus. I thank all of you for the welcome you have given me. I want you to know how I have looked forward to this meeting with you, especially with those of you who are sick, disabled or infirm. I myself have had a share in suffering and I have known the physical weakness that comes with injury and sickness.
It is precisely because I have experienced suffering that I am able to affirm with ever greater conviction what Saint Paul says in the second reading: “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8,38-39).
Dear friends, there is no force or power that can block God’s love for you. Sickness and suffering seem to contradict all that is worthy, all that is desired by man. And yet no disease, no injury, no infirmity can ever deprive you of your dignity as children of God, as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
By his dying on the Cross, Christ shows us how to make sense of our suffering. In his passion we find the inspiration and strength to turn away from any temptation to resentment and grow through pain into new life.
Suffering is an invitation to be more like the Son in doing the Father’s will. It offers us an opportunity to imitate Christ who died to redeem mankind from sin. Thus the Father has disposed that suffering can enrich the individual and the whole Church.
We acknowledge that the Anointing of the Sick is for the benefit of the whole person. We find this point demonstrated in the liturgical texts of the sacramental celebration: “Make this oil a remedy for all who are anointed with it; heal them in body, in soul and in spirit, and deliver them from every affliction.”
The anointing is therefore a source of strength for both the soul and the body. The prayer of the Church asks that sin and the remnants of sin be taken away (cf. DS 1969). It also implores a restoration of health, but always in order that bodily healing may bring greater union with God through the increase of grace.
In her teaching on this sacrament, the Church passes on the truth contained in our first reading from Saint James: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5,14-15).
This sacrament should be approached in a spirit of great confidence, like the leper in the Gospel that has just been proclaimed. Even the desperateness of the man’s condition did not stop him from approaching Jesus with trust. We too must believe in Christ’s healing love and reaffirm that nothing will separate us from that love. Surely Jesus wishes to say: “I will; be clean” (Mt. 8,3); be healed; be strong; be saved.
My dear brothers and sisters, as you live the Passion of Christ you strengthen the Church by the witness of your faith. You proclaim by your patience, your endurance and your joy the mystery of Christ’s redeeming power. You will find the crucified Lord in the midst of your sickness and suffering.
As Veronica ministered to Christ on his way to Calvary, so Christians have accepted the care of those in pain and sorrow as privileged opportunities to minister to Christ himself. I commend and bless all those who work for the sick in hospitals, residential homes and centers of care for the dying.
I would like to say to you doctors, nurses, chaplains and all other hospital staff: Yours is a noble vocation. Remember it is Christ to whom you minister in the sufferings of your brothers and sisters.
I support with all my heart those who recognize and defend the law of God which governs human life. We must never forget that every person, from the moment of conception to the last breath, is a unique child of God and has a right to life. This right should be defended by the attentive care of the medical and nursing professions and by the protection of the law. Every human life is willed by our heavenly Father and is a part of his loving plan.
No Province or State has the right to contradict moral values which are rooted in the nature of man himself. These values are the precious heritage of civilization. If society begins to deny the worth of any individual or to subordinate the human person to pragmatic or utilitarian considerations, it begins to destroy the defenses that safeguard its own fundamental values.
Today I make an urgent plea to this nation. Do not neglect your sick and elderly. Do not turn away from the handicapped and the dying. Do not push them to the margins of society. For if you do, you will fail to understand that they represent an important truth. The sick, the elderly, the handicapped and the dying teach us that weakness is a creative part of human living, and that suffering can be embraced with no loss of dignity. Without the presence of these people in your midst you might be tempted to think of health, strength and power as the only important values to be pursued in life. But the wisdom of Christ and the power of Christ are to be seen in the weakness of those who share his sufferings.
Let us keep the sick and the handicapped at the center of our lives. Let us treasure them and recognize with gratitude the debt we owe them. We begin by imagining that we are giving to them; we end by realizing that they have enriched us.
May God bless and comfort all who suffer.
And may Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and healer of the sick,
make his light shine through human weakness as a beacon for us and for all mankind. Amen.
The Anointing of the Sick is the Sacrament given to seriously ill Christians, and the special graces received unite the sick person to the passion of Christ. The Sacrament consists of the anointing of the forehand and hands of the person with blessed oil, with the minister saying, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.”
Origen of Egypt in his Homilies on Leviticus described Anointing for healing the sick and forgiveness of sins in the third century. St. Thomas Aquinas stated that Extreme Unction, as the Anointing of the Sick was once called, is “a spiritual remedy, since it avails for the remission of sins, and therefore is a sacrament” (James 5:15). The ecclesial effect of this sacrament is incorporation into the healing Body of Christ, with a spiritual healing of the soul, and at times healing of the body. The sacramental grace helps us to accept sickness as a purifying cross sent by God, and the grace even to accept death if that is God’s will.
Jesus healed the blind and the sick, as well as commissioned his Apostles to do so, such as the following sources.
“So they (the Twelve Apostles) went off and preached repentance.
They drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”
Gospel of Mark 6:12-13
“Is any among you sick?
Let him call for the presbyters of the Church,
and let them pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
and the prayer of faith will save the sick man,
and the Lord will raise him up;
and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
My dear brothers, candidates for the priesthood: for you Christ today renews his prayer to the Father: “Consecrate them in truth, your word is truth” (Jn. 17,17). This consecration makes you even more a “new creation.” It sets you apart from the world, so that you may be completely dedicated to God. It gives you a mission to act as Christ’s ambassadors in reconciling the world to God. It was for this purpose that Jesus came from the Father and was born of the Virgin Mary. And it is this same mission which Christ entrusted to his disciples: “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth” (Jn. 17,18).
At this important moment of your lives I say to you young men: Realize how deeply Jesus desires you to be consecrated as he himself is consecrated. Realize how closely the bond of priesthood joins you to Christ. Be worthy of the privilege you are going to receive of bringing God’s gifts of love to his people and offering to God the people’s prayerful response.
You must be men of God, his close friends. You must develop daily patterns of prayer, and penance must be a regular part of your life.
Prayer and penance will help you to appreciate more deeply that the strength of your ministry is found in the Lord and not in human resources.
You must try to deepen every day your friendship with Christ. You must also learn to share the hopes and joys, the sorrows and frustrations of the people entrusted to your care. Bring to them Christ’s saving message of reconciliation. Visit your parishioners in their homes. This has been a strength of the Church in England. It is a pastoral practice that should not be neglected. Teach your people boldly about the faithful love of God. And do not forget all those with special needs, particularly those who are in prison, and their families. In the gospel Christ identifies himself with prisoners when he says, “I was in prison, and you visited me.” And remember that he did not specify whether they were innocent or guilty. Because you represent Christ, no one can be excluded from your pastoral love. I ask you, together with your brother priests, to take my greetings to all the prisons in Britain, especially the large one in Manchester. Christ Jesus went to offer peace of conscience and the forgiveness of all sins. Through Jesus Christ offer hope. Through you, in your heart, Jesus Christ wants to love those for whom he died. You must show that you believe in that faithful love by the fidelity with which you live your own life. You must proclaim the Gospel with your life.
When you celebrate the sacraments at the decisive moments of their lives, help them to trust in Christ’s promised mercy and compassion. When you offer the redeeming Sacrifice of the Eucharist, help them to understand the need for transforming this great love into works of charity.
My brothers be aware of the effect on others of the witness of your lives.
Your ordination is a source of consolation for those who have already given many years of priestly service, large numbers of whom are present today. The Lord is grateful for their labor and today he blesses them with the assurance that he will continue to provide for the future of the Church.
May all these priests be renewed in the joyful enthusiasm of their early call, and may they continue to give generously of themselves in Christ’s priestly work of reconciling the world to the Father.
I know of the many priests who could not be here because of old age or infirmity. To them also I send the expression of my love in Christ Jesus.
Their prayers, their wisdom, their suffering are rich treasures for the Church, from which will come forth abundant blessings.
And what of your contemporaries? Undoubtedly your acceptance of Christ’s mission is a clear witness for those who are not yet sure what the Lord wants of them. You show them that being ordained for God’s service is a noble vocation that demands faith, courage and self-sacrifice. I am sure that such qualities are to be found among the young people of Great Britain. To them I say: Be certain that Christ’s call to the priesthood or religious life is addressed to some of you. Be certain that if you listen to his call and follow him in the priesthood or religious life, you will find great joy and happiness. Be generous, take courage and remember his promise: “My yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt. 11,30).
Finally, I wish to greet the parents and families of those about to be ordained. I say in the name of the Church, in the company of my fellow Bishops, thank you for your generosity. It was you who brought these men into the world. It was you who first gave them the faith and the values that have helped to lead them to God’s altar today. The Church, too, must be a family, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity, supporting each other and sharing with each other the individual gifts given by God. Every priest relies on the faith and talents of his parish community. If he is wise he will not only know the joy of dispensing God’s grace, but also of receiving it abundantly through his parishioners as well. The partnership between priests and people is built upon prayer, collaboration and mutual respect and love. That has always been the tradition of these islands. May it never be lost.
Through this ordination the Lord really and truly continues the work of his “new creation.” And he continues to send forth his message over all the earth and to speak personally to those who will be ordained:
“‘Go now to those to whom I send you
and say whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to protect you’
—it is the Lord who speaks!” Amen.
The Sacrament of Holy Orders began with the Last Supper, when Christ Jesus commissioned his Apostles to continue the Eucharistic celebration. He also commissioned his Apostles following the Resurrection to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). Thomas Aquinas makes the point that only Christ is the true priest, the others serving as his ministers (Hebrews 8:4). St. Ignatius, Bishop of Syria around 100 AD, in his Letter to the Magnesians (6), established the hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon for the early Churches, the pattern which still exists today. Bishops are the successors of the Apostles, and priests and deacons are his assistants in rendering service. Men are ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as the sacrament confers upon – in persona Christi.
Holy Orders is the sacrament of Apostolic ministry. As in the Pastoral Epistles, the rite consists of the Bishop’s laying on of hands on the head of the priest-candidate with the consecrating prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the gifts of the ministry. There are three dimensions to ministry, that of Bishop, Priesthood, and the Diaconate. See Matthew 16:18-19, John 21:15-17, Romans 10:14-15, 2 Timothy 1:6, and Titus 1:5 as well as the following:
“Do this in memory of me.”
Gospel of Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:25
“Now be solicitous for yourselves and for the whole flock in which
the Holy Spirit has appointed you as bishops to pasture the Church of God,
which He purchased with his own blood.”
Acts of the Apostles 20:28
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.
First Letter of Paul to Timothy 4:14
“Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 2:4-5
In a marriage a man and a woman pledge themselves to one another in an unbreakable alliance of total mutual self-giving. A total union of love.
Love that is not a passing emotion or temporary infatuation, but a responsible and free decision to bind oneself completely, “in good times and in bad,” to one’s partner. It is the gift of oneself to the other.
It is a love to be proclaimed before the eyes of the whole world. It is unconditional. To be capable of such love calls for careful preparation from early childhood to wedding day. It requires the constant support of Church and society throughout its development.
The love of husband and wife in God‘s plan leads beyond itself and new life is generated, a family is born. The family is a community of love and life, a home in which children are guided to maturity.
Marriage is a holy sacrament. Those baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus are married in his name also. Their love is a sharing in the love of God. He is its source. The marriages of Christian couples, today renewed and blessed, are images on earth of the wonder of God, the loving, life-giving communion of Three Persons in one God, and of God’s covenant in Christ, with the Church. Christian marriage is a sacrament of salvation. It is the pathway to holiness for all members of a family.
With all my heart, therefore, I urge that your homes be centers of prayer; homes where families are at ease in the presence of God; homes to which others are invited to share hospitality, prayer and the praise of God: “With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3,16-17).
In your country, there are many marriages between Catholics and other baptized Christians. Sometimes these couples experience special difficulties. To these families I say: You live in your marriage the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity. Express that hope in prayer together, in the unity of love. Together invite the Holy Spirit of love into your hearts and into your homes. He will help you to grow in trust and understanding.
Brothers and sisters, “May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts….Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you” (Col. 3,15-16).
Recently I wrote an Apostolic Exhortation to the whole Catholic Church regarding the role of the Christian Family in the modern world. In that Exhortation I underlined the positive aspects of family life today, which include: a more lively awareness of personal freedom and greater attention to the quality of interpersonal relationships in marriage, greater attention to promoting the dignity of women, to responsible procreation, to the education of children. But at the same time I could not fail to draw attention to the negative phenomena: a corruption of the idea and experience of freedom, with consequent self-centeredness in human relations; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship between parents and children; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the spread of a contraceptive and anti-life mentality. Besides these destructive forces, there are social and economic conditions which affect millions of human beings, undermining the strength and stability of marriage and family life. In addition there is the cultural onslaught against the family by those who attack married life as “irrelevant” and “outdated.” All of this is a serious challenge to society and to the Church. As I wrote then: “History is not simply a fixed progression towards what is better, but rather an event of freedom, and even a struggle between freedoms that are in mutual conflict” (Familiaris Consortio, n. 6). Married couples, I speak to you of the hopes and ideals that sustain the Christian vision of marriage and family life. You will find the strength to be faithful to your marriage vows in your love for your children. Let this love be the rock that stands firm in the face of every storm and temptation. What better blessing could the Pope wish for your families than what Saint Paul wished for the Christians of Colossae: “Be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes … put on love” (Col. 3,12-14).
Being a parent today brings worries and difficulties, as well as joys and satisfactions. Your children are your treasure. They love you very much, even if they sometimes find it hard to express that love. They look for independence and are reluctant to conform. Sometimes they wish to reject past traditions and even reject their faith.
In the family bridges are meant to be built, not broken; and new expressions of wisdom and truth can be fashioned from the meeting of experience and enquiry. Yours is a true and proper ministry in the Church. Open the doors of your home and of your heart to all the generations of your family. We cannot overlook the fact that some marriages fail. But still it is our duty to proclaim the true plan of God for all married love and to insist on fidelity to that plan, as we go towards the fullness of life in the Kingdom of heaven. Let us not forget that God’s love for his people, Christ’s love for the Church, is everlasting and can never be broken. And the covenant between a man and a women joined in Christian marriage is as indissoluble and irrevocable as this love (cf. AAS 71 , p. 1224). This truth is a great consolation for the world, and because some marriages fail, there is an ever greater need for the Church and all her members to proclaim it faithfully.
Christ himself, the living source of grace and mercy, is close to all those whose marriage has known trial, pain, or anguish. Throughout the ages countless married people have drawn from the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection the strength to bear Christian witness—at times very difficult—to the indissolubility of Christian marriage.
And all the efforts of the Christian people to bear faithful witness to God’s law, despite human weakness, have not been in vain. These efforts are the human response made, through grace, to a God who has first loved us and who has given himself for us.
As I explained in my Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, the Church is vitally concerned for the pastoral care of the family in all difficult cases. We must reach out with love—the love of Christ—to those who know the pain of failure in marriage; to those who know the loneliness of bringing up a family on their own; to those whose family life is dominated by tragedy or by illness of mind or body. I praise all those who help people wounded by the breakdown of their marriage, by showing them Christ’s compassion and counselling them according to Christ’s truth.
To the public authorities, and to all men and women of good will, I say: treasure your families. Protect their rights. Support the family by your laws and administration. Allow the voice of the family to be heard in the making of your policies. The future of your society, the future of humanity, passes by the way of the family.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, who are now about to renew the promises of your wedding day: may your words express once more the truth that is in your heart and may they generate faithful love within your families. Make sure that your families are real communities of love.
Allow that love to reach out to other people, near and far. Reach out especially to the lonely and burdened people of your neighborhood, to the poor and to all those on the margin of society. In this way you will build up your society in peace, for peace requires trust, and trust is the child of love, and love comes to birth in the cradle of the family.
The union of a man and a woman is natural. The natural language of the human body is such that the man gives to the woman and the woman receives the man. The love and friendship between a man and a woman grow into a desire for marriage. The sacrament of marriage gives the couple the grace to grow into a union of heart and soul, to continue life, and to provide stability for themselves and their children. Children are the fruit and bond of a marriage.
The bond of marriage between a man and a woman lasts all the days of their lives, and the form of the rite consists of the mutual exchange of vows by a couple, both of whom have been baptized. The minister serves as a witness to the couple in the West, but serves as the actual minister of the rite in the East. The matter follows later through consummation of the marriage act.
Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God, and concludes with a vision of the “wedding-feast of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7, 9). The bond of marriage is compared to God’s undying love for Israel in the Old Testament, and Christ’s love for his Church in the New Testament of the Bible.
Jesus stresses the significance of the marriage bond in his Ministry (Matthew 19:6, 8). The importance of marriage is substantiated by the presence of Christ at the wedding feast of Cana, where he began his public ministry at the request of his mother Mary by performing his first miracle (John 2). It is the Apostle Paul who calls matrimony a great sacrament or mystery, and who identifies the marriage of man and woman with the unity of Christ and his Church. The theologian Tertullian, the first Latin Father of the Church at the beginning of the third century AD, wrote on the Sacrament of Matrimony.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.”
“(Jesus) said in reply: “Have you not read that He who made man from the beginning
made them male and female?”
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:25
“This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.
In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself,
and the wife should respect her husband.”
St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:32-33
I would now like to speak especially to the young people who are about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Today’s Gospel has special meaning for you, for it says that “Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, “Peace be with you,” and showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” After saying this he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20,20-22).
Christ‘s gift of the Holy Spirit is going to be poured out upon you in a particular way. You will hear the words of the Church spoken over you, calling upon the Holy Spirit to confirm your faith, to seal you in his love, to strengthen you for his service. You will then take your place among fellow-Christians throughout the world, full citizens now of the People of God. You will witness to the truth of the Gospel in the name of Jesus Christ. You will live your lives in such a way as to make holy all human life. Together with all the confirmed, you will become living stones in the cathedral of peace. Indeed you will be called by God to be instruments of his peace.
Today you must understand that you are not alone. We are one body, one people, one Church of Christ. The sponsor who stands at your side represents for you the whole community. Together, with a great crowd of witnesses drawn from all peoples and every age, you represent Christ. You are young people who have received a mission from Christ, for he says to you today: “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.”
“Jesus breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained”
On the first Pentecost our Savior gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins when he poured into their hearts the gift of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit comes to you today in the Sacrament of Confirmation, to involve you more completely in the Church’s fight against sin and in her mission of fostering holiness. He comes to dwell more fully in your hearts and to strengthen you for the struggle with evil. My dear young people, the world of today needs you, for it needs men and women who are filled with the Holy Spirit. It needs your courage and hopefulness, your faith and your perseverance. The world of tomorrow will be built by you.
Today you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit so that you may work with deep faith and with abiding charity, so that you may help to bring to the world the fruits of reconciliation and peace. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit and his manifold gifts, commit yourselves wholeheartedly to the Church’s struggle against sin. Strive to be unselfish; try not to be obsessed with material things. Be active members of the People of God; be reconciled with each other and devoted to the work of justice, which will bring peace on earth.
“How many are your works, O Lord!”
These words of the responsorial psalm evoke gratitude from our hearts and a hymn of praise from our lips. Indeed how many are the works of the Lord, how great are the effects of the Holy Spirit’s action in Confirmation! When this sacrament is conferred, the words of the psalm are fulfilled among us: “You send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (v. 30).
On the first day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and upon Mary and filled them with his power. Today we remember that moment and we open ourselves again to the gift of that same Holy Spirit. In that Spirit we are baptized. In that Spirit we are confirmed. In that Spirit we are called to share in the mission of Christ. In that Spirit we shall indeed become the People of Pentecost, the apostles of our time. “Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.” Amen.
Confirmation (or Chrismation) is the sacrament of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit whom Christ Jesus sent (John 7:37-39, 16:7). Jesus instructed his Apostles that they “will receive the power of the Holy Spirit” and called upon the Apostles to be his “witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). At the Pentecost, the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), and began to spread the Word of God. The Acts of the Apostles is often called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote of the Mysteries of Baptism, Eucharist, and Chrism in the mid-fourth century AD.
The rite of Confirmation is anointing the forehead with chrism, together with the laying on of the hands and the words, “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” The recipient receives the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2-3). On occasion one may receive one or more of the charismatic gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
The ecclesial effect and sacramental grace of the sacrament give the recipient the strength and character to witness for Jesus Christ. The East continues the tradition of the early Christian Church by administering the sacrament with Baptism. Confirmation in the West is administered by the Bishop to children from age 7 to 18, but generally to adolescents, for example, to a graduating class of grade school children. Key Scriptural sources for Confirmation are the following (See also Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-4, 2:38, 10:44-48):
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away,
for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you;
but if I go, I will send him to you.
Gospel of John 16:7
“Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God,
they sent to them Peter and John,
who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit;
for it had not yet fallen on any of them,
but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”
Acts of the Apostles 8:14-17