At the opening of the academic year at the Pontifical Univeristy of the Holy Cross, Rome (November 11, 2006)
At the opening of the academic year
of the Pontifical University of the
Holy Cross, Rome
Professors, students and staff of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Please allow me a brief initial digression. I would like to ask for your special help in a concern that also includes a material dimension. Only God knows how hard it is for me to begin this academic year without being able to celebrate Holy Mass, in order to invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit. The reason is that the Basilica of St. Apollinaris, next to the university, is still closed to worship because of restoration work. So I appeal to your generosity to ensure that, with God’s help, the next course is begun with the most solemn act opening the academic year: the Sacrifice of the Altar, with the participation of the academic body, the students and all who work in this alma mater.
Today we can foresee the completion of the restoration of this building and the library, which has involved so many people who share the university ideals we are carrying forward. We should not forget that these reflect the faith in God that St. Josemaría Escrivá transmitted to the Prelature’s faithful—first of all to Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the founder and first Chancellor of our university. As Chancellor I am very thankful to God for this legacy, and for the fruit it has yielded in the Church’s service. I am also grateful to the authorities and teachers and the administrative personnel of the university, for their patience and diligence in finding solutions to so many little problems arising from the renovations.
In recent years, the office of development has been organizing activities for people who provide assistance to our university. This year too we have been able to share our joy through activities organized here in Rome for a group of benefactors. While they have been able to see with their own eyes the improved material conditions, above all they have seen the interest of the students in their own spiritual and human development. Thus they personally experience the truth of words St. Josemaría directed to the benefactors of initiatives carried out in the service of one’s neighbor: they themselves are the first beneficiaries of this generosity.
In the academic domain, as has already been mentioned, new fronts have been opened for theological research in the study of the liturgy, to be followed this year by a specialization in biblical theology. In addition, the creation of an office of communications last year, and the teaching resources service that will soon be in operation, show the vitality the university requires to also confront the challenges of the new evangelization.
The continual renewal demanded by the work of study and research, which is so evident to us, helps us to reflect on the regenerative capacity of the university institution in its fundamental endeavor, that is to say, its dedication to truth.
In confronting an effort of this kind, one must always take into account capacities and limits, both individual and collective.
One of the obvious limits in this endeavor is the human impossibility of embracing reality in all its aspects. Already in the ancient world it was seen that this limitation was due more to our inadequacy than to any intrinsic deficiency in reality itself. Even so, an intimate union between the true, the beautiful and the good was seen, in such a way that the discovery of the truth (verum), although limited, was considered as an opening also to the good, not as an added dimension, but as a natural consequence of the impossibility to separate these characteristics in reality. A genuinely human development, therefore, entails the harmonious intertwining of capacities directed to the contemplation and enjoyment of the good.
For persons and institutions inspired by the Gospel message, the effort to harmonize all these aspects can be summed up in the search for Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Transcending human wisdom, Christianity offers us in the person of Jesus and in his permanence in the Eucharist an original path, whose principal element is that of self-giving.
From this perspective, the search for the truth, as I said above, cannot be separated from its communication to other persons.
The first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI is a call, directed to all of us, to never separate the search for the truth from love for others. There the Holy Father asks us to reflect on the originality of charity, as well as on its various manifestations and on the inseparability between knowledge and action fostering the good of others. “The Christian’s program—the program of the Good Samaritan, the program of Jesus—is ‘a heart which sees.’ This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.”
For those involved in the university, fostering charity means exercising it diligently in one’s relations with others, for it is in dialogue and in the interchange of ideas and experiences that one matures as a person and as a searcher for the truth. In university life, harmonizing dedication to the truth and dedication to the good of one’s neighbor is an essential requirement for reaching ever wider and wider circles. Through his word and his example, St. Josemaría encouraged us to strive to ensure that others can begin their work where we have left off. Although this could be viewed as a “strategic duty,” above all it is a manifestation of concern for the good of souls and for the future of society.
I earnestly pray that the events we are witnessing at this moment in the history of the Church and in the development of our university, will be for all of us a spur to joyfully bring forward the mission God has entrusted to us.
We go to Mary, the Mother who “teaches us what love is and where it comes from,” through the intercession of St. Josemaría, asking for a fruitful 2006-2007 academic year, which we hereby declare inaugurated...