Vatican (Fides Service) – “If on the one hand, your hearts must never cease from contemplating the mystery of God, on the other it is necessary to keep your eyes on events in the world and in history. The Second Vatican Council said in this regard, that the Church has a permanent duty to look at the ‘signs of the times’ and interpret them in the light of the Gospel”. Pope John Paul II said this to several thousands of students from Rome’s ecclesiastical Universities gathered on October, 24 in St Peter’s Basilica for the annual Mass to open the academic year 2003/2004. The evening Mass was presided on behalf of the Holy Father, by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education Seminaries and Institutes of Studies. After strenuous week long celebrations for his Silver Jubilee, the Holy Father took the doctor’s advice and delegated some of his activities to his closest collaborators. After the proclamation of the Gospel, Cardinal Grocholewski read the homily the Pope had prepared for the occasion.
“There opens before you a new year of study and research which you will devote to careful study of theology and other disciplines, to prepare yourselves to assume tomorrow pastoral duties and responsibilities at the service of the Christian people. Accompany the effort of study with prayer, meditation and constant searching for the Lord’s will” the Pope advised students in his homily.
Commenting the readings of the Mass, the Holy Father said “victory over evil is given to us from the goodness of the all-merciful God who revealed himself fully in Christ…Like Paul, the Church never ceases to announce this magnificent <good news> addressed to all everyone: Christ who died and is risen has conquered evil and set us free from sin. He is our salvation. This salvific announcement resounds unceasingly also in our day and it is the heart of the mission of the ecclesial Community.” Since mankind is always searching for the meaning of life and death, Pope John Paul II recommended the students to prepare conscientiously “to be able to give the answers of the faith in a manner suited to the language and mentality of our times. Everything, therefore, must be oriented towards such a noble mission: to proclaim Christ and the liberating power of his Gospel.”
(S.L.) (Fides Service 25/10/2003 – lines 27; words 360)