Article published in the magazine “Redacción,” of the University of Navarre, under the title «A Universal Legacy». Pamplona, Spain, January 2002
As we commemorate the centennial of Blessed Josemaría Escrivá’s birth, there comes to mind, along with other aspects of his holy life, his continual solicitude for this university, which held such a deep place in his heart and which he now protects from heaven.
He always wanted it to be a powerful focus of science and culture, which would contribute to imparting a deep Christian formation to young men and women from all over the world. He never saw this Alma Mater as a defensive bastion, but dreamt that its influence would become truly universal and that it would gain the high prestige needed to serve effectively the Church and all mankind, especially the most needy, at the same time as it fostered among its staff a sincere desire to learn from others.
When in October of this year we celebrate the University’s golden anniversary, we might be tempted to think that many of those dreams have already become a reality. But fifty years are scarcely the first steps for an institution that measures its history by centuries. The University of Navarre is beginning its path, although the wisdom of its first Grand Chancellor and the intensity of its five first decades-including the difficulties it has had to confront-have conferred on it a splendid maturity, thanks be to God and to the work of so many thousands of people: professors, employees, students, benefactors from throughout the world. Now it is a question of advancing further on the path, growing in our practice of the spirit that this holy priest gave to the university as its richest legacy.
Open and sincere dialogue
This spirit is one of openness, of understanding for everyone, of constant work, of high academic demands, of friendly and cheerful association among people of the most varied mentalities, of an open and sincere dialogue. Such is the atmosphere that, from the human point of view, characterizes the apostolic works of Opus Dei, to whose realization on earth Blessed Josemaría dedicated his life without reserve. He did so in the fulfillment of a call to holiness which today tens of thousands of people have taken up in the most diverse occupations and professions throughout the whole world. This human atmosphere serves as the foundation for an efficacious struggle for holiness, for the effort to make God the goal of all these activities.
He wanted the university to offer freely to all those who come to it the truth that the fullness of Christian life can be attained in any circumstance of daily life and work.
This is why he wanted to ensure that the teaching imparted here was not limited to the specialized aspects of each subject, but was directed to the integral formation of youth. He left to the University the living legacy of a unified vision of all fields of knowledge, which need to be configured in a Christian synthesis that responds to the demands of our time. Therefore, he encouraged an interdisciplinary vision of university activities and working in teams, where a spirit of service takes precedence over personal recognition. From the start he promoted an environment of collaboration and mutual assistance. He wanted the discoveries that arose from intense work in libraries and laboratories to be put at the service of society.
Through the combined efforts of all of us, we have to see to it that these aspects of his spirit remain alive and ever more fruitful, reinforcing the Christian identity of the academic body in an environment of pluralism and freedom.
Love for truth, justice and freedom
The centennial of our first Chancellor, united to the beloved memory of my predecessor, Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, represents a renewed impulse, a new beginning, more enthusiastic than ever, of the marvelous work that the University of Navarre is carrying out. I would like to place special stress on the intensification of research work, in both the scientific and humanistic disciplines, in order to illuminate with daring the first steps of the third millennium, inspired also by the teachings of Pope John Paul II. The help of the Association of Friends, and the Alumni Association will continue to be, as up to now, a valuable support. The level of teaching required in all subjects offered will continue to be complemented by personal tutoring and the great variety of cultural and social activities sponsored by the University. The life of the university will have to be ever more dynamic, in order to be in accord with the rapidly changing circumstances in this historic moment.
Very timely are the words that the founder of the university spoke at an academic ceremony in 1972: «The university does not turn its back on any uncertainty, any unrest, any need of mankind. Its mission is not to offer immediate solutions. But studying problems with scientific depth will also move hearts, spur on the passive, awake sleeping powers, and form citizens ready to construct a more just society. It thus contributes with its universal work to removing barriers that make it difficult for men to understand one another; it alleviates fear of an uncertain future; and it fosters, through its love for truth, justice and freedom, the true peace and concord of persons and nations.»
A wonderful task of generous and demanding service awaits us. We will carry it out more effectively if we commend our work to the intercession of Blessed Josemaría and place it under the protection of our Lady, Mother of Fair Love, who presides over us from the campus shrine.