At the Opening of the Academic Year, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome (October 3, 2017)
Your excellencies, teachers, assistants, students, ladies and gentlemen:
Today we officially start the academic year, the day after a new anniversary of the founding of Opus Dei. It is a good moment to thank God for all the good that the University of the Holy Cross, with divine help and the contribution of so many people, has produced in these three decades of its existence.
It is the first time that I address you as Chancellor of this University, and it is only fair and gives me joy to remember with deep gratitude the first two Chancellors, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo and Bishop Javier Echevarría. Both of them have done so much for our University, leaving us a rich legacy and a bright example.
On this occasion I would like to reflect on a topic very dear to Bishop Echevarría: the Christian fraternity lived by those who are carrying out together a project of Christian inspiration. Thanks to this fraternity, each one’s personal commitment is not an isolated reality, but is joined to the totality of everyone’s efforts, producing a wave of effectiveness, as St. Josemaría said using a very evocative image: “Just as the clamor of the ocean is made up of the sound of each of its waves, so the sanctity of your apostolate is made up of the personal virtues of each one of you” (The Way, no. 960). Precisely because we consider the other person as someone who belongs to us —and to whom we belong— we want to render the maximum, with a commitment shown in quality service. Para servir, servir!, St. Josemaría used to say: in order to be useful, serve! Charity spurs us to work in a professional way.
We are all called to carry out our work in a spirit of unity. True unity is not the result of simply our good intentions; rather it stems from God’s love that “has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). Therefore unity is not just a matter of organization, of distributing jobs, but above all of charity. Out of love for God we want to live our freedom and responsibility as Christians fully, putting our knowledge and experience, our special sensitivity for certain problems and challenges at the service of everyone. At the same time, we are aware that the others are also committed to this shared mission, and that their perspectives provide a rich contribution to the activity we are carrying out together. Hence the diversity of opinions on organizational, academic, and even material issues does not decrease unity and the need to work as a team.
The sincere effort to help others brings joy in its wake, the true joy of God’s children. It is a joy that is often shown in the good humor that one encounters in the corridors of this building, and that is reflected in the willingness to cheerfully help a colleague who is carrying a heavy workload, as Saint Paul advised: Alter alterius onera portate et sic adimplebitis legem Christi (Gal 6:2). “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
A direct manifestation of this inner joy is the desire to share it with others. Good is diffusive of itself (see S. Th. I, q. 73, a. 3, ad 2) and cannot remain walled-up. The fraternal charity that we strive to live in the University extends outward, towards our families, our fellow students, our friends, but also towards all those who, as Pope Francis often reminds us, are found on the “existential peripheries” (Evangelii Gaudium, November 24, 2013). Thinking about all those who, in a certain sense, are waiting for us, is always a strong spur to commit ourselves to our mission.
With my best wishes for a fruitful year of work, I offer my warm greetings to each and every one here and declare the academic year 2017-2018 inaugurated.
Romana, n. 65, July-December 2017, p. 306-307.