At the Mass inaugurating the academic year of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur et renovabis faciem terrae. The words of the Psalm give voice to our prayer, to the intimate longing for conversion and salvation which fills every day of this Jubilee Year with meaning. On the threshold of a new millennium, united to the Vicar of Christ and to all of our brothers and sisters in the faith, we beg the Lord of history to renew this world of ours, and to grant us a firmer faith and a more lively love.
Emitte Spiritum tuum. The Paraclete is the One who will give us these graces. It is not the work of our hands that will transform this world but God’s gift: the frequently mysterious but always fruitful solicitude of his Love for humanity. Nevertheless, our cooperation is also necessary, our ‘yes’ to the divine invitation. Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Our task consists in watching, in being always ready to open the door of our soul to Christ who knocks, letting ourselves be guided by the Spirit who breathes within us. Only if each of us responds personally to divine grace, will the world be changed. In order for the new millennium to possess a deeply Christian character, a determined resolution of conversion is needed on the part of each Christian, of each one of us.
From the very first day of the Holy Year, we have been imploring our Lord to grant us the grace of conversion: a real conversion reflected in our daily actions. The goal to which we aspire, and which we will attain if we are humble, is expressed in the words of St. Paul: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
Leaving aside for now other aspects of the process of conversion, I would like to pause to look at its specifically intellectual dimension. In every salvific transformation that is produced in the life of man, the will and affectivity intervene in a direct way; but in its origin we always find an act of faith, a more lively awareness of the mystery of God’s love.
Intellectual conversion is a fatiguing task, more arduous than the conversion of the heart. It is a thirst for divine light which commits a person to reshape his own ideas, his own judgments, his criteria for acting and evaluating. This search must be undertaken with humility, since it requires many small but significant corrections in one’s own way of thinking. And this is arduous, since there is nothing to which we are so attached as to our own ideas.
Emitte Spiritum tuum et creabuntur et renovabis faciem terrae. We should pray often for this, since only with the help of the Spirit of Truth will our intellect conform itself fully to Christ, our words announce him faithfully, and our actions reveal Him visibly to others.
Mentes tuorum visita, imple superna gratia, quae tu creasti pectora. In the words from the liturgical hymn, we ask the Paraclete to enlighten our mind and visit our heart, for only in this way will we welcome in ourselves the light of Christ and open the door of our soul to the truth he reveals to us: the truth about ourselves, about the meaning of life, about the goal for which we should strive, and about our own fragility. The truth above all about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from both.
The Paraclete wants to lead us to the fullness of the Truth, to a profound understanding of all that Jesus did and said. This fullness, attained by means of a loving knowledge of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, should be the goal of all our efforts, including our intellectual endeavors. Day by day we have to build up a true unity of life between academic research and the search for sanctity. Science should be put at the service of charity. If this unity is weakened and breaks, science ends up serving pride and vanity, as St. Paul taught the Corinthians.
Here we have, therefore, a very specific dimension of intellectual conversion: orienting the activity of one’s mind, each of its movements, to knowing God, One and Triune, so that the desire to live in intimacy with God grows and love for the Three Divine Persons is enkindled in one’s soul. Using an expression that John Paul II likes to use, we could say that study should “concentrate thematically on the mystery of God, One and Triune.” The Holy Year has a decidedly Trinitarian character, for the entire Trinity, in Christ, comes to meet man in history.
I urge you, during these next few months, to discover personally what Blessed Josemaria spoke about in one of his homilies: “Our heart,” he wrote, “now needs to distinguish and adore each one of the divine Persons. The soul is, as it were, making a discovery in the supernatural life, like a little child opening his eyes to the world about him. The soul spends time lovingly with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and readily submits to the work of the life-giving Paraclete.” We have to deepen our intimacy with the three divine Persons if we want to help others travel the path that leads to sanctity.
The Holy Father wanted to dedicate the Jubilee Year in a very special way to the adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It is precisely this adoration that offers us the most direct path to approach the Trinity. Let us listen once again to Blessed Josemaria: “The Three Divine Persons,” he said in a Holy Thursday homily, “are present in the sacrifice of the altar. By the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the Son offers himself in a redemptive sacrifice. The Mass is, I insist, an action of God, of the Trinity. It is not a merely human event. The priest who celebrates fulfills the desire of our Lord, lending his body and his voice to the divine action. He acts, not in his own name, but in persona et in nomine Christi: in the Person of Christ and in his name.”
How much spiritual vigilance we need in our participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice, how much faith, hope and charity, in order not to be led astray by the merely exterior appearances, but instead to perceive, each time, the great and amazing mystery being fulfilled before our eyes! “As you attend Mass, you will learn to deepen your friendship with each one of the three divine Persons ...Be hungry to receive our Lord in communion, although you may be cold inside, although your emotions may not correspond to your desires. Receive communion with faith, with hope, with burning charity.” I urge you to truly strive each day to participate in, or to celebrate, Holy Mass with these dispositions.
The Church reminds us that to share in the divine life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, there is no better path than the one chosen by the Trinity for coming to us: Mary, the chosen Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Word Incarnate, Spouse and Temple of the Paraclete. Through her, the woman of silence, given to listening — as the Holy Father calls her in his Bull Incarnationis Mysterium (no. 14) — model of faith and of pilgrimage in faith, we will more easily reach God, One and Triune. For holy Mary never ceases to help her children on this path to the Trinity that is our life.