Pope Francis: the Church nurtures, loves us as a mother

Pope Francis in St Peters Square on Pentecost Sunday May 19 2013 Credit Stephen Driscoll CNA 6 CNA 5 23 13 Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2013. | Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

Pope Francis told thousands gathered for his weekly general audience that the Church is like our mother, who gives life to and nurtures the faithful.

"Today I wish to continue our catechesis on the Church by reflecting on an image used by the early Fathers and the Second Vatican Council: the Church as our Mother," he said. "By reflecting on the human experience of maternity, we understand that the Church is like our own mothers."

During his Sept. 11 audience, Pope Francis stressed in his first point that as our mother, "the Church gives us the gift of life."

He emphasized the importance of remembering the day when one was baptized, because that is they day one enters the Church, telling those gathered, once home, to "go and look well what is the date of your baptism," and to "have it in your heart and celebrate it."

The pontiff specified also that although faith is a personal act, it also comes to us through others, through our "families and communities who teach us how to believe."

Pope Francis then reflected that "the Church nourishes us, helps us to grow, teaches us the path to follow, and accompanies us in life."

He highlighted that the Church is close to her children "especially in our illnesses and sufferings, through the Sacraments and the Word of God."

Pope Francis also told the pilgrims that a Christian should not live in isolation, saying "A Christian is not an island!"

"We do not become Christians in the laboratory, we do not become Christians alone, and with our own strength, but faith is a gift, it is a gift of God that is given to us in the Church and through the Church."

The layperson's role "is not something external and formal," he said, it "is not filing a card that they give us."

"It is an act of inner life," he said, stating that Christians do not belong to the Church in the same was as to "a company, to a party or any other organization."

He then commissioned those present to take an active part in evangelization, telling them that "it is also our mission to go forth and share in the maternity of the Church by bringing others to a life of faith."

"And so we ask ourselves, do we love the Church as our Mother, who helps us to grow as Christians? And how do we go beyond ourselves in order to bring Christ to others?"

"As faithful children, let us bring the light of Christ to the ends of the earth."

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