(Vatican Radio) Remember to pray to the Holy Spirit: this was the message Pope Francis had for pilgrims and tourists who braved the drear and drizzle of a January morning in Rome, to gather in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace and pray the Angelus with the Holy Father on this Sunday – the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord and the conclusion of the liturgical season of Christmas.
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Noting that the descent of the Holy Spirit at Christ’s baptism in the Jordan is the sign by which the Lord begins His public teaching ministry, Pope Francis said, “We often pray to Jesus, we pray to the Father, especially when we pray the “Our Father” – but not so frequently do we pray to the Holy Spirit – it is true, no? – He is the Forgotten One.” The Holy Father went on to say, “We need to ask for His help, His strength, His inspiration,” explaining, “the Holy Spirit, who entirely animated the life and ministry of Jesus, is the same Spirit who now leads Christian existence, the existence of [every] man and woman who say they are and want to be Christians.”
Earlier in the day, Pope Francis marked the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord with Mass in the Sistine Chapel, during the course of which he baptized eleven infants.
In his homily, the Holy Father focused on three related themes: on the Word of God as nourishment for the soul; on faith as an intrinsically and essentially ecclesial reality – something that is “of the Church” and into which we are incorporated in baptism; on the anointing that is part of baptism, and therefore on the sacrament as one of royal, prophetic and priestly consecration. Departing from his prepared text, the Holy Father offered some homiletic reflections on the importance of prayer – especially of prayer to the Holy Spirit – in the life of Christians. “It is so very important to pray to the Holy Spirit,” he said, “for the Spirit teaches us to carry forward the family, the children – He makes it possible to see that the children grow up in the atmosphere of the Holy Trinity.” The Pope went on to say, “It is precisely the Spirit who leads them forward – and this is why we need not forget to invoke the Holy Spirit often, every day.”