ROME – The Holy Spirit helps Catholics to do good works by giving them the gifts they need to be effective ‘salt and light’ in the world, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.
Like Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world,” the pope said May 23, explaining that the images of salt and light “make us think of our conduct, because both the lack and the excess of salt make food disgusting, as the lack and the excess of light prevent us from seeing.”
“Who can really make us salt that gives flavor and preserves from corruption, and light that enlightens the world?” he asked. “It is only the Spirit of Christ!”
Explaining that at the moment of Confirmation the bishop says, “Receive the Holy Spirit, which has been given to you,” Francis said the sacrament is “a great gift of God, the Holy Spirit within us.”
“The Spirit is in our heart, is in our soul. And the Spirit guides us in life, so that we become the right [amount of] salt and the right [amount of] light for men.”
Francis spoke about Confirmation after concluding his weekly reflections on Baptism, which he said is “the first step.” After Baptism, “it is then necessary to behave as children of God, that is, to conform to Christ who works in the holy Church,” he said.
“If in Baptism it is the Holy Spirit that immerses us in Christ, in Confirmation it is Christ who fills us with his Spirit,” he said. In Confirmation, Christ consecrates Catholics “as his witnesses, partakers of the same principle of life and mission, according to the plan of the heavenly Father.”
Becoming involved in Christ’s mission in the world: “This is what the anointing of the Holy Spirit provides,” he continued.
The pope also explained that the sacrament is called “Confirmation” because it “confirms Baptism and strengthens its grace,” noting that in the Italian language, the sacrament is called “Cresima,” to recall the anointing with chrism oil, which confers the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is also appropriate to speak about Confirmation following the celebration of Pentecost, the pope said, because the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples calls to mind the infusion of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation.
“Pentecost, which we celebrated last Sunday, is for the Church what for Christ was the anointing of the Spirit received at the Jordan, or the missionary impulse to consume the life for the sanctification of men, to the glory of God.”
If in every sacrament the Spirit works, it is especially in Confirmation that “the faithful receive the Holy Spirit as a gift,” he concluded. “Christian witness consists in doing only and all that the Spirit of Christ asks of us, granting us the strength to do it.”
At the end of the general audience, Francis pointed out that Thursday, May 24, is the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Help of Christians,” which is particularly venerated at the Shrine of Our Mother of Sheshan near Shanghai, China.
This feast day “invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China,” he said, praying for Chinese Catholics, that through the intercession of Our Lady, they would live their faith “with generosity and serenity… fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter.”
“Dearest disciples of the Lord in China, the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even among the difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to God’s will. Our Lady will never fail to help you and guard you with her motherly love.”