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The Growth of the Church

Catechesis by Pope Francis on Confirmation
General Audience, Wednesday 6 June 2018 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Continuing our reflection on the Sacrament of Confirmation, let us consider the effects that the gift of the Holy Spirit ripens in the newly confirmed, leading them to become, in their turn, a gift to others. The Holy Spirit is a gift. Let us remember that when the bishop anoints us with the oil he says: “Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. That gift of the Holy Spirit enters us and makes us fruitful, so that we can then give him to others. Receiving is always for giving: never receive and keep things within, as if the soul were a storehouse. No: receiving is always for giving. God’s grace is received to be given to others. This is the life of a Christian. Indeed it pertains to the Holy Spirit who shifts us from our ‘I’ in order to open us up to the ‘we’ of the community: receiving in order to give. We are not at the centre: we are an instrument of that gift for others.

Completing the likeness to Christ in those who are baptized, Confirmation unites them more closely as living members to the mystical body of the Church (cf. Rite of Confirmation, n. 22). The Church’s mission in the world proceeds through the contribution of all those who are part of her. Some think there are bosses in the Church: the Pope, the bishops, the priests, and then there are the others. No: the Church is all of us! And we all have the responsibility to sanctify one another, to take care of the others. The Church is all of us. Each one has his or her work in the Church, but she is all of us. Indeed, we should think of the Church as a living organism, made up of people we know and with whom we journey, and not as an abstract and distant reality. The Church is we who are journeying; the Church is we who are in this Square today. We: this is the Church. Confirmation binds us to the universal Church spread throughout the world, at the same time, actively involving confirmands in the life of the particular Church to which they belong, with the Bishop, who is the successor of the Apostles, at the helm.

This is why the Bishop is the original minister of Confirmation (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 26), because he introduces the confirmand into the Church. The fact that in the Latin Church this sacrament is usually conferred by the bishop demonstrates clearly that “its effect is to unite those who receive it more closely to the Church, to her apostolic origins, and to her mission of bearing witness to Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1313).

This ecclesial incorporation is well demonstrated by the sign of peace which concludes the Rite of Confirmation. Indeed the Bishop says to each confirmand: “Peace be with you”. Recalling Christ’s greeting to the disciples on the evening of Easter, filled with the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 20:19-23) — as we have heard —, these words illuminate a gesture which “demonstrates ecclesial communion with the bishop and with all the faithful” (cf. ccc, n. 1301). In Confirmation, we receive the Holy Spirit and peace: that peace that we must give to others. But let us think: each one think of his or her own parish community, for example. There is the ceremony of Confirmation, and then we offer each other peace: the Bishop offers it to the confirmand, and then in the Mass, we exchange it among ourselves. This signifies harmony; it signifies charity among us; it signifies peace. But then what happens? We go out and begin to speak ill of others, to “excoriate” others. Gossip begins. And gossip is war. This will not do! If we have received the sign of peace with the power of the Holy Spirit, we must be men and women of peace, and not destroy, with the tongue, the peace that the Holy Spirit has created. Poor Holy Spirit: the work we give him, with this habit of gossiping! Think carefully: gossip is not the work of the Holy Spirit; it is not the work of unity in the Church. Gossip destroys what God has made. Please: let us stop gossiping!

Confirmation is received only once, but the spiritual dynamism inspired by the holy anointing perseveres over time. We will never finish fulfilling the mandate to diffuse everywhere the good fragrance of a holy life, inspired by the fascinating simplicity of the Gospel.

No one receives Confirmation for oneself alone, but to cooperate in the spiritual growth of others. Only in this way, by opening and coming out of ourselves to meet our brothers and sisters, can we truly grow and not merely delude ourselves of doing so. In fact what we receive as the gift of God must be given — the gift is to be given — in order to be fruitful, and not instead buried due to selfish fears, as the Parable of the Talents teaches (cf. Mt 25:14-30). The seed too: when we have the seed in hand, it to be sown, not put away, in the dresser, to be left there. We have to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to the community. I exhort confirmands not to “confine” the Holy Spirit, not to resist the Wind that blows, that pushes them to walk in freedom; not to smother the ardent Fire of charity that leads one to expend one’s life for God and for brothers and sisters. May the Holy Spirit grant to all of us the apostolic courage to communicate the Gospel, in deed and word, to those we meet on our way. With deeds and words, but good words: those which build up. Not the words of gossip, which destroy. Please, when you leave the church, consider that the peace received is to be given to others: not for destroying with gossip. Do not forget this."


"Je suis heureux de saluer les pèlerins venus de France et de divers pays francophones. Je salue en particulier ceux du diocèse de Saint-Claude avec leur évêque Mgr Jordy ; ceux du diocèse canadien de Valleyfield avec leur évêque Mgr Simard ; les membres de la Société des Deux Cœurs d’Amour avec Mgr Rivière, Évêque d’Autun, ainsi que le Chœur Notre Dame d’Arménie. Que l’Esprit Saint nous accorde le courage apostolique de communiquer l’Evangile, en paroles et en actes, à tous ceux que nous rencontrons sur notre route. Que Dieu vous bénisse !

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from Ireland, Norway, Nigeria, China, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Der Heilige Geist gebe uns den apostolischen Mut, Christus, unseren Herrn und Erlöser, zu bezeugen, mit Worten und Taten, gegenüber allen, denen wir auf unseren Wegen begegnen. Gott segne euch und eure Familien!

Saludo especialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. De modo particular, saludo a los responsables y miembros de la Cadena COPE, con motivo de su convención anual, y que están acompañados por el Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal Española, Cardenal Ricardo Blázquez Pérez. Los animo a pedir la asistencia del Espíritu Santo en sus vidas para que les conceda la valentía de comunicar y anunciar la alegría del Evangelio, con palabras y obras, a cuantos encuentran en el camino de la vida.

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os grupos brasileiros vindos de Ourinhos, Goiânia, Bauru e Venâncio Aires: sede bem-vindos! Todos nós que recebemos o dom do Espírito Santo devemos invocá-lo com mais frequência, para que Ele nos guie pela estrada dos discípulos de Cristo, aos quais é pedido para que sejam cristãos em todas as circunstâncias e escolhas da vida. Que Deus vos abençoe!

أرحبّ بمودّة بالحاضرينَ الناطقينَ باللغة العربيّة، وخاصة بالقادمين من الأراضي المقدسة ومن مصر ‏ومن الشرق الأوسط. ما من أحد ينال سرّ التثبيت لنفسه فقط، إنما كي يشارك في نموّ الآخرين الروحي. فنِعم ‏الله تعطى لنا كي نعطيها للآخرين لأنها تزداد بالمشاركة وتختفي بالأنانية. علينا إذًا ألا نخاف من أن نهب ما ‏نناله باستمرار من الروح القدس عبر شهادة حياة مقدّسة، وعبر نشر عطر كلمته المُحيية بين الإخوة. ليبارككم ‏الرب جميعا ويحرسكم من الشرير!

Serdecznie pozdrawiam polskich pielgrzymów. Drodzy bracia i siostry, przybyliście w pielgrzymce do grobów Apostołów Piotra i Pawła. Ich świadectwo uczy nas, że ewangelicznymi błogosławieństwami „możemy żyć tylko wtedy, gdy Duch Święty przenika nas całą swoją mocą i uwalnia nas od słabości egoizmu, lenistwa czy pychy” (Adhort. ap. Gaudete et exsultate, 65). Pozwólcie się prowadzić Jego mocy, abyście i wy byli błogosławionymi posłańcami Chrystusowej Dobrej Nowiny. Niech Pan wam błogosławi!

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana.

Sono lieto di accogliere i Fratelli delle Scuole Cristiane; le Parrocchie, in particolare quelle di Giugliano in Campania e di Altamura, e i Partecipanti al Pellegrinaggio da Macerata a Loreto, accompagnati dai Vescovi, Monsignor Nazzareno Marconi a da Monsignor Giancarlo Vecerrica.

Saluto l’Associazione Volontari soccorso e protezione civile di Cellamare; la Cooperativa “L’imprevisto” di Pesaro e il Gruppo “Rinascita” di Teolo.

Friday marks the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For the whole month of June I invite you to pray to the Heart of Jesus and to support your priests with closeness and affection, so they may be the image of that Heart filled with merciful love.

I offer a special thought to young people, to the elderly, to the sick and to newlyweds. Draw from the Heart of Jesus the food and spiritual drink of your life, so that, nourished by Christ, you may be new people, deeply transformed in that divine love. Grazie!"