On the Occasion of the Inauguration of the Academic Year at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Basilica of St. Apollinaris (Rome), October 3, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters: “The doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.”

As we do every October, we begin a new academic year with the celebration of the Eucharist. The Risen Christ, who shed his Blood, makes himself present under the species of bread and wine, and offers his peace to us. The disciples were filled with joy, and we too open ourselves to this joy and peace, a characteristic of the Church from its very beginning.

This is a reality that is present at every Mass and that enlivens our commitment throughout the academic year. As St. Josemaría encouraged us, let us strive to make sure that our work has as its center and root the celebration of the Eucharist: Christ who shows us his love on the Cross. In some paintings, we see the Father holding the Cross in his arms and sending the Holy Spirit to Jesus. The Crucifix is present in every classroom of the university so we can look at it. Thus it is easier to be a community of teachers and disciples with a joyful family spirit.

Like the disciples on that first day of the Resurrection, we have also heard: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” We have been here in Rome, alongside the Pope, some for more and some for fewer years. And our Lord wants to entrust each of us with this marvelous task of transmitting the truth. Thus the world is filled with peace. “Peace be with you,” our Lord said.

“When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you retain, they are retained.’” It is not yet Pentecost, but Jesus immediately thinks of the forgiveness that comes after his redemptive sacrifice and his Ascension to the Father. The Paraclete infuses in us his breath to make us partakers of the divine love that forgives. We all need forgiveness and peace: to forgive and to be forgiven. The Holy Spirit enlarges our heart to make it more understanding, more universal, loving the differences that are very present in this Roman setting. St. Josemaría, in dreaming about this university, thought of everyone as being Roman in the sense of being universal. So he added at the beginning of the traditional aspiration “Ad Iesum per Mariam” the words “Omnes cum Petro”:“Omnes cum Petro, ad Iesum per Mariam.”

We have just heard St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “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 every one.” This is something that is lived every day in the Church and also in the hallways and classrooms of the university. And St. Paul adds: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”

One body and many members. The day after tomorrow the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops begins. As the Holy Father has asked us, let us pray a lot for this intention. We ask the Holy Spirit for this. On the day of Pentecost, “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 and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” We too ask for the gift of tongues, in the sense of knowing how to find topics, approaches and ways of speaking appropriate to the needs of the people we encounter today.

The Acts of the Apostles says that “they were amazed and wondered, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? . . . We hear them speaking in our own tongues the mighty works of God.’” This miracle is repeated throughout the Church’s history. The apostles and disciples, men and women, upon receiving the Holy Spirit, were gathered in prayer with Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. We entrust ourselves to Mary’s motherly intercession with full and joyful filial trust.

Romana, n. 77, July-December 2023, p. 187-188.

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