At the inauguration of the academic year, Campus Bio-Medico University, Rome (October 13, 2011)

Dear professors, students, directors, and administrative personnel from the Campus Bio-Medical University of Rome:

Excuse me if I speak at some length. I do so owing to the great affection I feel for you, which would lead me to spend the whole day here if possible. I recall now what I said the first time I celebrated Holy Mass in this place: your strength and joy in your work is found here, hidden in the Tabernacle. But don’t forget that this Lord of ours, who gave his life for us and rose so that we might share in his life, is the one who created the world and sustains our whole existence.

We are celebrating the votive Mass of the Holy Spirit in order to beseech him to come into our hearts. Our need for him is so great!

In the first reading we have heard the narrative of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon blessed Mary ever-Virgin and the Apostles, united in prayer in the Cenacle, in Jerusalem. “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit!”[1]

In the second reading St. Paul tells us: “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.”[2]

By these words St. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to safeguard their unity, which is an essential characteristic of the Church, and which is brought about by the Holy Spirit, but requires the effort of all the faithful. Unity is indispensable in any apostolic undertaking: through very different activities and duties, we are all called to build something great. It is logical that it be thus from a human point of view as well, since lack of unity would lead, sooner or later, to ineffectiveness and disintegration.

We should not be surprised that, at times, it is not readily apparent how we can find and pursue a common goal in collaboration with those who work at our side. Any project of great size—and the Campus Bio-Medico is unquestionably such—presents many facets, poses complexities, and is viewed by each person from different points of view, not always easy to reconcile. But the important thing is that we always seek each other’s help.

To make progress on the path, it is necessary to seek unity. St. Josemaría puts it very graphically when he writes in The Way: “Do you see? One strand of wire entwined with another, many woven tightly together, form that cable strong enough to lift huge weights.”[3] We Christians have to be like that, in our family and professional life and also in our moments of relaxation. If we are constantly thinking of the others, we will always be happier.

St. Paul offers us further food for thought when he adds that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”[4] The message is clear: to attempt to attain a goal by oneself, by our own efforts, can easily lead to failure or to selfishly seeking oneself. In contrast, the Christian message, which we are called to transmit, requires us to be men and women who are sowers of peace and joy.

The Holy Spirit communicates to each of us particular lights, so that, united by Christ’s charity, we can discover and strive to put into practice his will. In other words, only when we are willing to let ourselves be illumined by the light that God also grants to the persons around us, listening with sincere openness to others’ points of view, will we receive the light that marks out for us the path we have to travel.

We all know, at least in theory, that God often speaks to us through other people. Let us never forget this truth! Nevertheless, in practice, it can be difficult at times to truly open ourselves to others to ask for advice; we don’t know how to listen to them with interest, with the docility of one who is ready to change his own views, if necessary. “When our ideas,” says St. Josemaría, “separate us from other people, when they weaken our communion, our unity with our brothers, it is a sure sign that we are not doing what God wants.”[5]

There comes to mind the words that my predecessor, the Servant of God Bishop Álvaro del Portillo, addressed to all of you in similar circumstances (although many of the students who are present today were infants back then). You can’t imagine how much he loved Italy and all the apostolic works in Italy. He felt himself to be completely Roman, and therefore a citizen of every part of Italy and of the whole world.

At the inauguration of the first academic year at the Campus Bio-Medical, almost twenty years ago now, our beloved don Álvaro spoke the following words: “I recommend that you work with a spirit of unity and understanding, with optimism; thus you will overcome the obstacles with God’s help, you will be happy and—what is still more important—you will sanctify yourselves and help the others to sanctify themselves, because you will be living the commandment of love.”[6]

Peace be with you!, our risen Lord says in the Gospel that we have just read: and “the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”[7] Christian joy is also a fruit of the effort by each of us to see Christ in others, to live, day by day, the commandment of love.

If we direct our thoughts to these years of the Campus Bio-Medico’s existence, we have to recognize, with deep gratitude to our Lord, that the path already traveled has been quite substantial. The difficulties (which have not been lacking, nor will they ever be in an undertaking such as this one) have been overcome; the work carried out with a spirit of unity, understanding and optimism has shown us the value of the efforts of all the women and men who have helped bring this university forward.

This is the logic that animates the apostolic works promoted by the faithful of Opus Dei, in union with many other people, throughout the whole world. In words of St. Josemaría, I remind you of an important reality: “Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”[8]

Today we can affirm once again that, those who work in an apostolic undertaking, and also a family one, receive the call to discover that something holy, present also in the hearts and minds of the people who assist us.

God’s logic is one of service: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you,” taught Jesus, addressing his disciples, and therefore every one of us. “Rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For which is the greater, one who sits at table, or one who serves? Is it not the one who sits at table? But I am among you as one who serves.”[9] Each Christian, by the very fact of having been sought out by Christ, has to be an apostle. Absolutely everyone! Our Lord asks all of us to struggle to be holy in ordinary life and to concern ourselves about the salvation of souls.

“Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home, shed a ray of light divine!”[10] As I look at you, the students, and think of all those who have passed and will pass through the classrooms of this university, I feel impelled to invoke, for each and every one of you, the light of the Holy Spirit. May you continue to have great, universal goals, and may you foster in you life a sincere ideal of service, both in your studies and in all the other aspects of your human, professional, and spiritual formation. Ask God for the grace to make of your life something great, and to light up all the pathways of this earth with the fire of your faith and your love,[11] also when you return home after an exhausting day.

In a recent address, the Holy Father Benedict XVI reminded young people that “in Baptism the Lord, as it were, sets our life alight.” And he invited them to be determined to seek holiness: “Have the courage to apply your talents and gifts for God’s kingdom and to give yourselves—like candle wax—so that the Lord can light up the darkness through you. Dare to be light-bearing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world.”[12] Today let us take this invitation as directed to each and every one of us as well.

May our Lady, temple of the Holy Spirit, help us to recognize God’s voice and to keep our minds and hearts open and ready to listen. Then we will receive God’s light, and we will feel urged to bring it to the whole world. Dream and the reality will surpass your dreams.


[1] Acts 2:3-4.

[2] 1 Cor 12:4-6.

[3] St. Josemaría, The Way, no. 480.

[4] 1 Cor 12:7.

[5] St. Josemaría, Christ Is Passing By, no. 17.

[6] Álvaro del Portillo, Homily, October 15, 1993 (Rendere amabile la verità, Libreria Editrice Vaticana,1995, p. 246).

[7] Jn 20:19-20.

[8] St. Josemaría, Conversations, no. 114.

[9] Lk 22:25-27.

[10] Sequence of Pentecost.

[11] See Prayer to St. Josemaría.

[12] Benedict XVI, Address to Young People, Freiburg im Breisgau, September 24.

Romana, n. 53, July-December 2011, p. 260-263.

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