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Monday, December 3, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - In the Vatican Basilica at 5.30 p.m. today, Benedict XVI presided at first Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent with academics from the Roman and pontifical universities on the occasion of the beginning of the academic year.

In his homily, the Holy Father remarked that "the entire journey of the year of the Church is directed to discovering and reliving God's trust in Jesus Christ who came to us in Bethlehem, as a child. The full history of salvation is a journey of love, mercy and benevolence, from creation to the liberation of the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, from the giving of the Law at Sinai to the return to the homeland from Babylonian slavery. ... God is not closed away in heaven, but rather inclines towards the affairs of mankind, a great mystery that exceeds any possible expectation. ... He does all this out of his unwavering love for humanity. ... 'God is love'. ...  God, in Jesus of Nazareth, takes upon himself the whole of humanity, the entire history of humanity, setting it on a decisive new course to transformation into a new human being, engendered by and tending towards God".

"The liturgical year that we begin with these Vespers will also form part of the path in which you once more relive the mystery of this trust in God, upon whom you are called to base your life, as on a solid rock", said the Pope, addressing the students present. "By celebrating and undertaking this itinerary of faith with the Church, you will experience that Jesus Christ is the sole Lord of the cosmos and of history, without Whom any human construction would amount to nothing. The liturgy, lived in its true spirit, is always the fundamental school for life in Christian faith, a 'theological' faith involving your whole being - body, heart and soul - to enable you to become living stones in the construction of the Church and collaborators in new evangelisation".

He continued, "We live in a context  in which we often encounter indifference towards God. But I believe that, in the inner depths of those people ... whose lives are distant from God, there resides a nostalgia for the infinite, for transcendence. It is your task, within the university halls, to bear witness to God Who is close to us, and Who is made manifest also in the search for the truth, which is the soul of any intellectual pursuit. ... Faith is the door that God opens in our lives in order to lead us to the encounter with Christ, in which the present day of humanity meets that of God. Christian faith is not the adhesion to a generic or undefined god, but rather to the living God Who in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, entered into human history and revealed Himself as man's Redeemer. To believe means to entrust one's own life to Him, as only He can give it fullness in time and open it to hope beyond time".

"In this Year of Faith I wish to invite the academic community of Rome to reflect upon faith. The continuing dialogue between the state or private and pontifical universities allows us to hope for an increasingly significant presence of the Church in the cultural life not only of Rome but also in Italian and international contexts".

The Pope concluded by remarking that that the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro will provide "an important opportunity for offering your testimony and commitment to the moral and social renewal of the world". 

At the end of the ceremony a delegation from the University of Rome "Roma 3" presented an icon of Mary "Sedes Sapientiae" ("Seat of Wisdom") to a university delegation from Brazil, the country which will host the next World Youth Day.

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