Visit to the parish of St. Francis de Sales March 13, 1994
S. John Paul II
Rome, March 13, 1994
The Holy Father addressing the children said:
«Today I heard that you sing with joy. It is Lent, but you sing with joy. It is only fair that you sing with joy, because this IV Sunday of Lent is traditionally called “Laetare”. “Laetare” means “rejoice.” Why were Christians rejoicing on this Sunday? They were glad for their Baptism. Catechumens who were preparing for Baptism were especially happy and on this day they already received the symbol of faith. Then they were admitted to the faith. The main catechesis was this.
Do you know who is a catechumen? Is the on eprepares for Baptism. Then there are the neocatechumens, or Neocatechumenals, in this parish. It was very important in the primitive Church and it is always in the Church, the preparation for Baptism. The Baptism is a great mystery, a great Christian reality. Is the beginning of life in Christ. And the catechumens prepared and they prepare to start life in Christ well. Today for the little ones Newborns lack the true catechumenate, and for this it is necessary a neocatechumenate, a later neocatechumenate that completes what the baptized little newborn is missing. This explains the great importance of the Neocatechumenal Movement.
I have to say that the whole Lenten period that we live now reminds us every year of this Neocatechumenal Way: how they prepared to receive the symbol and then, some weeks later, to receive the Risen Jesus. Baptism means thenew life in Christ, this new life manifested, revealed through his Resurrection after death ».