.- Following a Mass celebrated to mark the beginning of the Roman academic year, Pope Benedict XVI offered a few words of reflection for students and faculty of the Pontifical Universities and Athanea of Rome. The Holy Father encouraged the students gathered to strengthen their spiritual life and to be prepared to receive the truth which, he noted, comes from God and not from a popular consensus.
The Holy Father noted the tremendous diversity of nations from which the Pontifical students originate. “At the start of this new academic year,” Pope Benedict said, “we praise the Lord for this special community of professors and students, which declares so eloquently the universality and the unity of the Catholic Church. A community still even more beautiful because it principally addresses the youth, giving them the opportunity to enter into and engage in institutions of high cultural and theological values, and offering at the same time, the possibility of enriching pastoral and ecclesiastic experiences.”
The Pope insisted that the Pontifical institutions should focus on, “the important priority of spiritual life and the need for concern, along with cultural growth, for a balanced human development and a deep religious and ascetic formation.”
“Those who want to be a friend of Jesus and to become an authentic disciple, whether seminarian, priest, religious, or layman, can cultivate an intimate friendship with Him in meditation and in prayer,” the Pope insisted.
Benedict XVI emphasized that “the deepening of Christian truths and the study of theology or other religious disciplines assumes an education of silence and contemplation, because it is necessary to be capable of listening with the heart to hear what God says.”
The Pontiff explained that “thought has always needed purification to be able to enter into the dimension in which God pronounces His redemptive and creative word.”
"Only if they stem from silence and contemplation, can our words have some value and utility, and not fall into the inflated speeches of the world, that seek the consensus of the common opinion,” the Pope said.
The Pope stressed that “he who studies at an ecclesiastic Institute should, in this way, be obedient to the truth and therefore cultivate a special asceticism of thought and word.”
“Such an asceticism,” the Holy Father continued, “is based on a loving familiarity with the Word of God and would first speak with that 'silence' in which the Word is originated, in the dialogue of love between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In this dialogue we also have access by the sacred humanity of Christ.”
“Your future apostolate will be fruitful and rich in the measure that, in these years, it is prepared with serious studies, and above all is nurtured by your personal relationship with Him, tending to holiness and having as the only end of your existence the realization of the Kingdom of God,” the Holy Father concluded.