At the inauguration of the academic year, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome (October 4, 2010)
My dear brothers and sisters:
I give thanks to God because he has allowed me to be with you once more to celebrate this solemn Eucharist. As is traditional, the Mass we are celebrating at the inauguration of the academic year of our university is the votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. We have a great need to direct ourselves to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity upon beginning a new school year, because we want to give thanks to the Sanctifier for the immense gift of the faith with which he enlightens our understanding so that we can listen to his inspirations and be docile to his requests.
The first reading has helped us relive the day of Pentecost: There appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:3-4). The apostles’ minds, which up till then had been sometimes dominated by passions, prejudices and fears, were opened definitively to the rays of divine Truth.
As then, today too we have to free ourselves from all that hinders our listening to the voice of the Spirit. The recent beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, which our Holy Father personally celebrated on his trip to the United Kingdom, shows that Pentecost continues being timely and always will be such. The life and writings of the new Blessed are an echo of an interior voice that often fails to coincide with the voice of our personal desires, of what seems most advantageous or appealing. Rather it is identified with the voice of our conscience, by which God makes himself heard in the depths of our soul. For it is true that our conscience, far from imprisoning us in our own subjectivity, opens us to Transcendence and to docility to God’s will.
“Newman,” said the Holy Father in the Mass of Beatification, “helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives: he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a ‘definite service,’ committed uniquely to every single person: ‘I have my mission,’ he wrote, ‘I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons’ (Meditations and Devotions, 301-2).”
We can ask ourselves: how is this possible? It seems to me that a good answer can be found in some words of St. Josemaría, who by his life laid the foundations for this university. “The solemn coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was not an isolated event. There is hardly a page in the Acts of the Apostles where we fail to read about him and the action by which he guides, directs, and enlivens the life and work of the early Christian community. It is he who inspires the preaching of St. Peter (see Acts 4:8), who strengthens the faith of the disciples (see Acts 4:31), who confirms with his presence the calling of the Gentiles (see Acts 10:44-47), who sends Saul and Barnabas to the distant lands where they will open new paths for the teaching of Jesus (see Acts 13:204). In a word, his presence and doctrine are everywhere.”
Pentecost also created an indissoluble link between our entering into contact with God and the divine gift of tongues, which permitted the evangelization of diverse cultures and societies: We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God (Acts 2:11). Investigation of the truth about God and about the human person cannot be limited, therefore, to attending classes and studying treatises of theology, philosophy, and the human sciences. This search for truth is also an open and humble dialogue with all those who live and work at our side, and, above all, with the Blessed Trinity, who dwells in the temple of our soul in grace. Only thus, thanks to being docile to the action of the Paraclete, is it possible to attain true wisdom and find an answer to the challenges that are presented to people of all times and places. “If the Holy Spirit himself does not interiorly assist the heart of the one who is listening, the words of the one who teaches will be of no use.”
I direct myself now in a special way to you, my dear students. In the course of your stay in the Eternal City you will have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, from different cultures and ways of thinking. Learn to dialogue with them, to listen and appreciate all that is positive in their cultures, traditions, and points of view. This will be for you an opportunity to live in an especially visible way the catholicity, the universality, of the Church. You will become experts in humanity and—what is more important—you will detect in the small events of each day the gentle breath of the Holy Spirit.
Listening to the voice of the Spirit, which leads to many practical consequences for our life of prayer, for professional work, and for our relationships with others, will impel us to proclaim the magnalia Dei, the marvelous works of God, which we have been witnesses to. “Thus,” wrote St. Josemaría, “we shall complete our tasks perfectly, using our time to the full, for we shall be instruments who are in love with God. We shall be conscious of all the responsibility and trust that God has placed on our shoulders in spite of our own weaknesses.”
May our Lady, Temple of the Holy Spirit, intercede for each of us so that our desires to be docile to the Paraclete will become a reality. We ask Mary—our life, our sweetness, and our hope, as we will sing at the end of the Mass in the Salve—to make the image of her Son, Jesus, always shine forth in our lives. Amen