Thursday evening Pope Benedict XVI opened the doors of St. Peter's to the university students of Rome for solemn vespers. Between songs from the all-university choir and prayers to usher in the birth of Christ, the Holy Father delivered a message grounded in Wisdom for a future generation of workers trained in "intellectual charity."
Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem, "is the Wisdom of God," said Pope Benedict to the university students, professors, clergy and other lay faithful gathered together in the Vatican basilica on Thursday evening.
The Holy Father taught that the mystery of the presence of God on earth through the Nativity was an act of divine Wisdom, ultimately an act of Love, which opened the doors to our salvation. "Dear friends," he exclaimed, "a Christian professor or young Christian student carries within his or herself the passionate love for this Wisdom!"
"Everything that is acknowledged by human intelligence can be understood because, in some way or measure, it participates in the Wisdom of the Creator."
So, in his wisdom, God chose to reveal himself "not to doctors of the law, scribes or sages" but to "simple people," Joseph, Mary and the shepherds. "What does this mean?" asked the Pope, posing the question "... is studying worthless then?"
No, he responded, it's about "deepening our knowledge while maintaining a spirit of the 'little ones,' a humble and simple spirit... ."
Pope Benedict then invited the students to look to the Nativity to discover the real face of God, "the God that was not embarrassed to assume the human condition."
"Helping others to discover the true face of God," he continued, "is the first form of charity, which for you assumes the qualification of intellectual charity. ... I can't help but invite all universities to be places of formation for authentic workers in intellectual charity. On this largely depends the future of society, most of all in the elaboration of a new humanistic synthesis".
He concluded by encouraging "all off those in charge of academic institutions to proceed together, collaborating in the construction of communities in which all young people can form themselves to be mature people responsible for bringing about the 'civilization of love.'"
At the conclusion of the vespers prayers, a contingent of students from Australian universities gave an icon of Mary Seat of Wisdom to a group of African university students in a symbolic act of entrusting African university students to the Virgin Mary. The students of Rome have also made a special effort to developing a cooperative relationship African universities since the African Synod this past October.