At the Mass opening the academic year of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Basilica of St. Apollinaris, Rome (Oct. 11, 2004)

At the Mass for the opening of

the academic year in the Pontifical

University of the Holy Cross,

Basilica of St. Apollinaris, Rome

Dearly beloved,

On the day of the Resurrection, our Lord breathed on the disciples gathered in the Cenacle saying to them: receive the Holy Spirit (Jn 20:23). The same Spirit who inspired St. John to recall and put into writing the Teacher’s words is the one who today moves us to penetrate more deeply into the meaning of the revelation inscribed in the light of the paschal mystery. The Holy Spirit is also the one who will guide us, if we invoke him with faith throughout this academic year, as we strive to penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of the truth. The gift that we receive from God by means of his Spirit enables us to rise from the level of natural knowledge to that of faith. The help of heaven comes to our aid in our study and work to better assimilate the revealed truths, and gives us the grace to contemplate them with the new light that Jesus himself promised to his apostles.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are preparing to celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for our salvation is made sacramentally present. In the Mass, our prayer to the Father is constant. “And the action of the Holy Spirit in the Mass is truly present, although in a mysterious manner. ‘By the power of the Holy Spirit,’ writes St John Damascene, ‘the transformation of the bread into the body of Christ takes place.’”[1]

To make the Eucharist the center and root of all of our activities means to entrust our life, and all its concerns, to God the Father through Jesus, with the desire of placing our whole day under the light and spiritual force that the Eucharistic mystery radiates. With the occasion of the Eucharistic year, this reality becomes even more present. The International Eucharistic Congress, now taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the next year’s Synod of Bishops on “The Eucharist, source and summit of the Church’s life and mission,” point respectively to its beginning and its conclusion. This Eucharistic Year has as its framework the pastoral plan pointed out by the Pope in Novo Millennio Ineunte, which invited all the faithful to begin again with Christ. “In a certain sense,” the Holy Father wrote in his recent Apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, “it is meant to be a year of synthesis, the high-point of a journey in progress.”[2]

Let us look at Jesus and consider his mission as the source of Christian life. We need to contemplate more deeply the Word Incarnate, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Prayer before the tabernacle will not only enable us to penetrate every more deeply into the mysterious reality of Easter, but also to dedicate ourselves more effectively to the task of the “new evangelization.” Prayer and study enable us to fathom more fully the mystery of the gift of the Son of God to mankind, while assiduous frequenting of the Eucharist will give us the strength to apply the revealed truth to our daily life, and to transmit it as salvific news.

In the Eucharistic mystery, Christ shines forth in a special way as the “mystery of light” capable of illuminating all of our days. With Him there is no possibility of monotony in our life, for everything is illumined by the One who is the Light of the world (cf. Jn 8:12). Certainly this is so in a different way than was the case “in the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, in which his divine glory shines forth brightly. In the Eucharist the glory of Christ remains veiled,” observes Pope John Paul II. “The Eucharist is pre-eminently a mysterium fidei. Through the mystery of his complete hiddenness, Christ becomes a mystery of light, thanks to which believers are led into the depths of the divine life.”[3]

In accord with this new light, we should confront the new academic year with a spirit of confidence and daring, of joy and generosity. In the words of St. Josemaría Escrivá, we can say that “the holy Eucharist gives the sons of God a divine newness, and we must respond in novitate sensus, ‘in the newness of your mind’ (Rom 12:2), renewing all our feelings and actions. We have been given a new principle of energy, strong new roots grafted onto our Lord. We must not return to the old leaven, for now we have the bread which lasts forever.”[4]

May Mary Most Holy, whom the Holy Father called “the woman of the Eucharist,” help us grow in love and faith for the mystery of the Body and Blood of our Lord and to be apostles among all people.

[1] St. Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, no. 85; cf. St. John Damascene, De Fide Orthodoxa, 13 (PG 94,1139).

[2] John Paul II, Apostolic letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, October 7, 2004, no. 10.

[3] Ibid., no. 11.

[4] St. Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, no. 155.

Romana, n. 39, July-December 2004, p. 189-191.

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