At the Opening of the Academic Year, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Rome), October 3, 2023

At the beginning of a new academic year, we naturally want to look to the future with enthusiasm and hope. Enthusiasm is the attitude of those embarking on a new path or a new stage in life. The goal, obviously, is not only the conclusion of the year or passing exams, but the integral growth of the entire academic community in terms of knowledge, scientific research and interaction with other academic, Church and civil bodies.

At the same time, those embarking on a new path know they will encounter difficulties. Therefore we need to nourish our hope, our expectation filled with trust that God’s plans will be carried out.

These two attitudes, enthusiasm and hope, will be needed in confronting the great challenges that await our academic community in the upcoming year, and also for each of us as members of the People of God.

The upcoming weeks will also be marked by the Synodal Assembly. It is important to pray in union with the Holy Father and to foster during these weeks the hope proper to the children of God. As Pope Francis likes to remind us: “The Holy Spirit [at Pentecost] created a great diversity that seemed like a great chaos. Yet the same Spirit that gives different kinds of gifts also creates unity” (Francis, Address at the Ecumenical Meeting and Prayer for Peace, Bahrain, November 4, 2022).

Enthusiasm and hope are components of the courage that each new stage of a journey requires. Courage to identify projects that can broaden the university’s horizon, such as the interdisciplinary initiatives that have been selected in recent months; courage to make decisions that will have important repercussions in the future and for which it is necessary to think of the well-being of those who will come after us.

We will be able to have these two components if we commit ourselves to doing our work well, each of us our own. Students, teachers and technical and administrative personnel, we are all called to pray through our work. This invitation lies at the heart of the message that God entrusted to St. Josemaría, the founder of Opus Dei and inspirer of this university. As he wrote in The Way: “Add a supernatural motive to your ordinary work and you will have sanctified it” (The Way, no. 359). This is also an encouragement to realize how much good our work, if offered to God, can do, not only for those directly involved, but for all humanity.

With the hope that this spirit will help us to look to the future with confidence, I declare the 2023-2024 academic year open.

Romana, n. 77, July-December 2023, p. 195-196.

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