At the inauguration of the academic year, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome (November 4, 2009)

At the opening of the Academic Year

at the Pontifical University

of the Holy Cross

Brothers and sisters: “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). These words of St. Paul invite us to invoke frequently the coming of the Spirit of the Lord so that we too can be united to Jesus Christ, the one Saviour. The search for the Holy Spirit's action is what justifies our presence here today, as well as the very existence of the university.

The present celebration, which coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of this university’s activity, highlights the need to give thanks to God for all the gifts we have received, etiam pro ignotis! as St. Josemaría liked to say. We direct ourselves to God, in first place, to give thanks. The Mass (Eucharistia, thanksgiving) is the most opportune moment to express these sentiments in union with the universal thanksgiving for the Paschal event that becomes present at Mass. “To ‘live’ the holy Mass means to pray continually, and to be convinced that, for each one of us, this is a personal meeting with God. We adore him, we praise him, we give thanks to him, we atone for our sins, we are purified, we experience a unity with Christ and with all Christians.”[1]

Our thanksgiving is directed also to St. Josemaría and to the Servant of God Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, who were the instruments our Lord employed to make this “dream” into the reality that we see today: the University of the Holy Cross.

When, in a few minutes, the celebrants invoke the Holy Spirit to sanctify the gifts that we offer, let us place upon the altar our entire life and that of all the members of the People of God and, in a special way, the year that has recently ended and the one that we are inaugurating today. This union, real but spiritual, of our entire being with the Eucharistic sacrifice is particularly opportune in the Year for Priests, since in it, united to the Supreme Pontiff, we ask for “the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.”[2]

In the Holy Mass, Christ, the unique Priest of the New Covenant, takes upon himself all that is human and turns it into worship pleasing to God. Our act of thanksgiving, assumed by the Son in the universality of his sacrifice for our salvation, rises up to God the Father.

Thanks to this centrality of the Paschal mystery, the Eucharist has to preside over all our activities. In the Year for Priests, the Eucharistic offering also includes, and in a special way, our daily work (research, study, the fulfillment of administrative tasks, the care for instruments of work, etc.). The custom that many of you have acquired of stopping a moment in the chapel, before the Tabernacle, to greet Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on entering or leaving the university or the library, can be a practical way of uniting your daily duties with Christ’s Sacrifice. Thus, for the lay faithful also, work becomes a privileged place to exercise the common priesthood they received in Baptism. Let us strive not to leave our Lord by himself.

With the prompting of the grace of the Holy Spirit, with the priestly soul proper to all the baptized, we will be in a position to fuse our commitments at work with God’s charity. In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, the Holy Father invites us to do precisely this: “Charity is not an added extra, like an appendix to work already concluded in each of the various disciplines: it engages them in dialogue from the very beginning. The demands of love do not contradict those of reason. Human knowledge is insufficient and the conclusions of science cannot indicate by themselves the path towards integral human development. There is always a need to push further ahead: this is what is required by charity in truth.”[3]

In inaugurating this new academic year, in the Year for Priests, we invoke the Holy Spirit so that he might teach us to unite our university work with the Eucharistic Sacrifice. We ask him to show us how to conform our actions to God’s Love, so that the study of the sacred sciences does not remain something separated from the Paschal mystery. We want to “push further ahead,” under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.

Mary, our Mother, always full of grace, knew how to put her entire life at the disposition of God’s salvific plan. May our Lady, Woman of the Eucharist, Seat of Divine Wisdom, win for us from Heaven the grace of knowing how to conform our university life to the ideal of the search for truth in charity, in union with the Paschal mystery which is renewed and made present in the Eucharist.

Praised be Jesus Christ.

[1] St. Josemaría, Christ Is Passing By, no. 88.

[2] Benedict XVI, Letter convoking the Year for Priests, June 16,2009.

[3] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, June 29, 2009, no. 30.

Romana, n. 49, July-December 2009, p. 271-273.

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