At the inauguration of the academic year, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome (October 7, 2013)
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.” These words that we sang before the reading of the Gospel are what today, at the opening of this new academic year, we especially ask of the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity: that he fill us with his gifts and enkindle us with the fire of his love in order to respond constantly to God’s most lovable will.
Christian life means walking “according to the Spirit,” as St. Paul reminds us in the passage from his letter to the Galatians that we just heard. And the Apostle strongly insists that it is not possible to harmonize “walking according to the Spirit” with “satisfying the desires of the flesh,” because they “are mutually opposed.” Therefore our commitment, which we reaffirm at this moment while celebrating Holy Mass, cannot be other than to let ourselves be “guided by the Spirit” in every circumstance of our life. This means welcoming his constant motions, both those that he inspires directly in the interior of our souls, and those that come to us through the normal channels of Christian life, especially in the Eucharist and in Confession, without forgetting that the Paraclete also intervenes in our daily life and in our life at the university, especially in all that refers to the knowledge and transmission of the Word of God in all its aspects.
Only if we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit will it be possible to produce the good fruit that St. Paul lists in that same letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23). These are signs that our life is developing in accord with the divine will, that we are making constant progress, since we are eliminating selfish tendencies. Therefore they are signs of our identification with Christ, because “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” in order to live in God.
“Send forth your Spirit, Lord,” we pray with words from the antiphon of the Responsorial Psalm, realizing that without the divine presence that comes to us from on high it is impossible to walk towards God, or to fulfill our mission to “renew the earth,” as the same antiphon says. The world will be renewed by means of our life, through us who are poor men and women, if we welcome the Divine Spirit, because God wants to do great things through our knowledge and piety. This is what Benedict XVI tell us in the Apostolic Letter with which he promulgated the Year of Faith, which is now coming to an end. He states there that “a Christian may never think of belief as a private act. Faith is choosing to stand with the Lord so as to live with him. This ‘standing with him’ points towards an understanding of the reasons for believing. Faith, precisely because it is a free act, also demands social responsibility for what one believes. The Church on the day of Pentecost demonstrates with utter clarity this public dimension of believing and proclaiming one’s faith fearlessly to every person. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes us fit for mission and strengthens our witness, making it frank and courageous” (Porta Fidei, no. 10).
Jesus himself set forth this truth at the Last Supper, as we have heard in the Gospel of the Mass. At that sublime moment he told his disciples: “when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning” (Jn 15: 26-27). These words were addressed to the apostles first of all, but not only to them: they were also addressed to all his disciples throughout the ages. There come to mind the words of Pope Francis in his general audience on May 15, in relation to the text of St. John that speaks of the “Spirit of truth.” After stressing that Jesus is the Truth who became flesh in the fullness of time (Jn 1:1-14), he added that: “We need to let ourselves be bathed in the light of the Holy Spirit so that he may lead us into the truth of God, who is the one Lord of our life. In this Year of Faith let us ask ourselves whether we really have taken some steps to know Christ and the truth of faith better by reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture, by studying the Catechism and by receiving the sacraments regularly. However, let us ask ourselves at the same time what steps we are taking to ensure that faith governs the whole of our existence.”
Before concluding, I would like to recall the prayer to the Holy Spirit composed by St. Josemaría in that now distant April of 1934: “Come, O Holy Spirit! Enlighten my mind to know your commands; strengthen my heart against the snares of the enemy; enkindle my will. I have heard your voice, and I don’t want to harden my heart and resist, saying ‘Later … tomorrow.’ Nunc coepi! I begin right now! Lest there be no tomorrow for me. O Spirit of truth and wisdom, Spirit of understanding and counsel, Spirit of joy and peace! I want whatever you want; I want it because you want; I want it as you want; I want it whenever you want.”
Our Mother Holy Mary is teacher of a complete fidelity to the Holy Spirit, as the Roman Pontiff reminded us when he said: “Let us think of Mary who ‘kept all these things, pondering them in her heart’ (Lk 2:19, 51). Acceptance of the words and truth of faith so that they may become life is brought about and increases under the action of the Holy Spirit. In this regard we must learn from Mary, we must relive her ‘yes,’ her unreserved readiness to receive the Son of God in her life, which was transformed from that moment” (Audience, May 15, 2013).
Romana, No. 57, July-December 2013, p. 228-220.