Interview granted to Desde la Austral, Argentina (Spring–Summer 2013)
In our interview last year, we asked you to come before the Year of the Faith ended, to confirm us in the faith. You said that you would be “very happy to” but that you left this desire “in God’s hands.” And now we have you with us, for which we give thanks to God for making this mutual desire a reality. What advice do you have for us to take advantage of these last days of grace in the Year of Faith? And afterwards, how can we transform all the years of our life into years of faith?
I too am very thankful to God for the possibility of being in this dearly beloved country. You can’t imagine how much I wanted to come to Argentina to be with you. The authentic Christian life is a life of faith, of believing in God and in his Son Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for us: believing in his love and responding with our own love. Therefore the Year of Faith is an opportunity for us to refocus on how we share our life with Jesus, day by day, in a new and closer way, in all our daily tasks. I can sum it up with words from St. Josemaría: “May you seek Christ, may you find Christ, may you love Christ,” eager to bring to others the experience of meeting him, to create a “culture of encounter,” as the Pope says.
As you can well understand, we Argentineans now have an additional reason to love Pope Francis even more. What can we do, from this “distant corner” of the world, to accompany him in the difficult task that he bears on his shoulders?
As soon as he was elected Pope, Francis became the Pastor of the whole Church. He is now the visible source of unity. Of course, the Pope—as one sees so clearly—has great affection for his country, and I think that he expects a lot from the Argentineans. In order to accompany him in this ministry, three words come to mind: pray, listen, communicate. Praying for him, offering our work, our tiredness, and also our joys. Prayer is always the first work of charity. Then, listening: meditating on what he says, on his encyclical Lumen Fidei, on his homilies, on his speeches and statements. Making his words our own, part of our life. And finally, communicating them: repeating them to others, in a positive and enthusiastic way. It is a great opportunity for Argentina to renew its commitment to all the virtues and fundamental values: faith, hope and charity, and, as a consequence, service, love, solidarity, well finished work, honesty. We can’t be, as people say here, chantas, frauds. God expects us to work very well, in the service of society and all mankind.
At World Youth Day held in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis told the young people, and by implication all Christians, not to be spectators in life, not to “remain on the balcony,” but to get involved in people’s lives, just as Jesus did. What can we do to fulfill this request of the Pope.
“Remaining on the balcony” means not making a decision to serve, not giving one’s life to God and others, burying our talents. And Jesus invites all of us, all women and men, to be magnanimous, to dream of great projects of love for God, of service, of fraternity, of education. We can’t be satisfied with a comfortable life, without great ideals. The life of a Christian is a wonderful adventure; that’s the spirit we always see in the Church’s saints, and we are all called to be saints.
We were happy to hear about the upcoming beatification of Don Alvaro, our first Honorary Rector, and we are certain that many of the graces poured out through his intercession will fall upon this University that he inspired. Since you were so close to him, please tell us something about his efforts to begin Austral University.
Don Alvaro encouraged the start of educational and social projects in many countries, in accord with St. Josemaría’s spirit. He followed with great interest these projects promoted by people of the Work, Cooperators and friends, which would be able to do, and are doing, so much good for the places where they are found.
He kept them very present in his prayer, and always encouraged people to “think big,” to dream about these endeavors that, besides providing a solid professional and human formation, would also communicate a Christian spirit of charity and respect, of honesty, friendship, promotion of the family, and pluralism.
I know that, among many other things, Don Alvaro prayed a lot for this University, and that all the good it is doing gave him great joy.
What does our current Honorary Rector expect of us who are now working and studying at the Austral University?
That the educational work and human assistance you provide be based on personal contact with God. That is the best way to ensure that you transmit the friendly, smiling, positive tone of service that characterizes Austral University. I would like to see you closely united, overcoming the natural personal differences that may arises, in order to continue contributing to Argentina being a country with great horizons, investing in its people, in their education (which includes everyone, from all walks of life), and in their continuous development.
Romana, n. 57, July-December 2013, p. 233-235.