At the Inauguration of the Academic Year, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome (October 5, 2015)
The Holy Mass that we celebrate today marks the beginning of a new academic year and also a new stage in our encounter with God. In this Marian time that we are celebrating in Opus Dei, I invite you to contemplate the example of our Lady, who from the moment of the Annunciation, and throughout her whole life, found in every activity an opportunity to be ever more intimately united with God.
The events in of our life too, when we live them in accord with God’s plan, enable us to stay close to Him. St. Josemaría described this way of acting in clear words: “Many great things depend—don’t forget it—on whether you and I live our lives as God wants.” And he invited us to “live every moment of our lives with a lively awareness of eternity.” Our words can become instruments of God to bring souls to him; our actions, in union with Christ, can reflect God’s action on earth. Therefore, as Pope Francis invites us, “let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope!”
This Eucharistic celebration is a privileged occasion for a new meeting with God in the course of the new academic year. If we wish, with the help of grace, we can weave a personal relationship with the Most Blessed Trinity that will give greater depth and strength to each moment of our work. Our celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice today is a prayer of petition for graces for the year that is beginning, and at the same time, a prayer of thanksgiving, because we are called to live with greater intensity this new trajectory of our earthly path.
The Eucharistic presence of our Lord is made more evident in the moments of adoration on Thursdays and in the celebrations of the Masses that take place in this Church. The sacrament of the Eucharist leads us to acts of thanksgiving and petition, as Blessed Alvaro del Portillo liked to pray: Thank you, forgive me, help me more!
We are all called to place Jesus—in the Sacred Host—at the center and root of our own spiritual life. The devotion with which we try to make daily visits to the Tabernacle, as well as the love with which many of you greet our Lord when offering up your day, should be a reminder of the presence of God with us in our ordinary life.
Eucharistic devotion leads us to offer our work and our study to our Lord, offering it for the intentions of the Roman Pontiff, especially in this time dedicated to reflection on the Christian family. Christ, Mary, the Pope, these are our great loves on earth. “Omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam! All with Peter to Jesus through Mary!” — as St. Josemaría liked to pray. Ask our Lord, who accompanies us with his real presence in the Tabernacle, to assist the Pope and the Synod Fathers during these days of the Synodal gathering on the family.
The votive Mass of the Holy Spirit that we are celebrating marks the opening of the academic year, but it also reminds us in a specific way of what it means to be a Christian. We Christians need to always seek to serve others better—our study or work companions, our families, the whole world—each one according to the specific vocation received from God, within the common universal call to holiness and apostolate.
Eucharistic adoration, study or work, prayer, are not unconnected moments in our daily activities, but are links in a chain that unites us to our Lord. They are actions through which we seek to be in constant conversation with God throughout the whole day, with the unity of life characteristic of the children of God.
We are living through moments of great hope for the future of the world and the Church. It depends on us, through our work well done in the presence of God, to see to it that the light of Christ’s teachings shines even amid the darkness, that the splendor of the truth once more shines forth in all social environments.
I don’t want to end without recalling that we are about to close the year of thanksgiving for the beatification of our beloved Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, first chancellor of this university and successor of St. Josemaría. From the first moment, mindful of the wishes of the founder of Opus Dei and of St. John Paul’s blessing on the birth of this university, Don Alvaro worked with great supernatural spirit to overcome many difficulties and bring about the reality that we contemplate today. This same spirit has to be kept alive now, since the University of the Holy Cross has to continue welcoming many people— priests, seminarians, laity, and religious—for the service of the Church.
His supernatural spirit led Blessed Alvaro to ask for help and advice from so many academics, friends and benefactors, some of whom are present at this Eucharist. We are well aware of the prayer, the material help and the support of so many people, and we extend our deepest thanks to you.
Christ’s presence in our daily life is the fruit of Mary’s intercession. Let us invoke her with faith in the rosary that the students, professors and non-teaching personnel pray in the chapel each day. To Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Family, we entrust all the families in the world. May our Lady, with her motherly help, teach us to abandon ourselves in the loving hands of our Father God. Amen.