VATICAN CITY – In his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis reflected on the sacrament of confirmation, explaining to Christians that this sacrament is intrinsically linked to their baptism and fortifies their relationship with the Church.

“[Confirmation] unites us more firmly to Christ,” the Pope said in his Jan. 29 general audience. “It strengthens our relationship with the Church, and it gives us a special strength from the Holy Spirit to defend the faith and confess the name of Christ.”

The Pope began his weekly audience by addressing the thousands of pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square, stating, “Dear brothers and sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the seven sacraments, we now reflect on confirmation.”

Confirmation, he explained, “together with baptism and the Eucharist, is one of the sacraments of Christian initiation.”

These three sacraments, he noted, form part “of the unique process of Christian initiation through which we are gradually inserted in Christ, dead and risen, and we receive a new life, making us members of the Church.”

Reflecting on the term confirmation, the Pope highlighted that the word “indicates that this sacrament ratifies baptismal grace.”

He then explained that, during confirmation, “through the sacramental sign of anointing with sacred chrism, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to be more closely conformed to Christ, God’s ‘anointed one.’”

“We are also strengthened — ‘confirmed’ — in the grace of our baptism and in our mission of bearing daily witness to Christ and his love,” the Holy Father continued, adding, “Confirmation is God’s work,” as is every sacrament.

And this particular sacrament, said the Pope, “ensures that our life be embodied in the image of his Son, for us to love like him, infusing his Holy Spirit.”

“This Spirit acts with strength within us, within all people and during one’s whole life,” he emphasized, stating that, “when we receive him in our hearts, Christ makes himself present and takes shape in our lives.”

“It is he who prays, forgives, infuses hope, serves the brothers most in need, creates communion and seeds peace in our lives. It is he who does that,” the Pope said.

Turning to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are received when one is confirmed, Pope Francis noted that the direct works of the Holy Spirit are “reflected” in these “spiritual gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.”

Encouraging all present to “thank the Lord for the grace of our confirmation,” the Pope told them to ask “that, filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, we may always mirror Christ’s presence in our relations with others, our openness to those in need and our living witness to the Gospel message of joy and peace.”

He concluded his audience by extending personal greetings to pilgrims present from various countries around the world, including those from Spain, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland and the United States.

Giving a special greeting to a group of pilgrims who traveled from the Diocese of Rapid City, S.D., accompanied by their bishop, Robert Gruss, the Holy Father then invoked “God’s blessings of joy and peace!”