Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Speaking to students from Rome's universities, Pope Francis urged them to "keep your enthusiasm," and resist the prevailing opinion. By remaining faithful to the Christian ethical and religious principles, "you shall find the courage to go against the tide."
Today, young people crowded St Peter's Basilica on the occasion of the First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, which Roman students traditionally celebrate with their bishop, the icon of their patron saint, Mary Sedes Sapientiae (Seat of Wisdom), set next to the altar of the Confession.
"Dear university students," Pope Francis said, "your will and your abilities, combined with the power of the Holy Spirit who came to dwell within each one of you on the day of your Baptism, allow you to be protagonists of contemporary events, not spectators. Please, do not look at life from a balcony; mingle where challenges are to be pursued: life, development, the struggle for human dignity, against poverty, for values. You young university students are called to deal with different challenges with inner strength and evangelical courage. Your socio-cultural context is sometimes weighted down by mediocrity and boredom. We must not resign ourselves to the monotony of everyday life, but should instead cultivate big projects, and go beyond the ordinary. Do not let others steal your youthful enthusiasm! It would also be wrong to let oneself be imprisoned by weak and uniform thought, or by globalisation understood as conformity. In order to overcome these risks, the model to follow is not that of a smoothly sanded down sphere in which every difference disappears - the model to follow is that of a polyhedron, which includes a variety of elements and respects unity in variety." Indeed, "to defend unity, we [must] defend variety."
"Thinking is in fact fruitful when it is the expression of an open mind, one that discerns, ever more enlightened by the truth, by what is good and by beauty. If you do not let yourself be influenced by the prevailing opinion, remaining faithful to Christian ethical and religious principles, you shall find the courage to go against the tide. In a globalised world, you can help save your own specificities and characteristics, whilst not lowering the level of ethics. Indeed, the plurality of thoughts and individualities reflect God's multifaceted wisdom when we approach the truth with honesty and intellectual rigor, when we approach goodness, when we approach beauty, so that everyone can be a gift for the benefit of all."
"May the commitment to walk in faith and behave in a manner consistent with the Gospel accompany you in this time of Advent to live authentically the feast of the Nativity of the Lord. The beautiful witness of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a university student like yourselves, may help you when he said, "Living without faith, without a heritage to defend, without sustaining the truth in a continuous struggle, is not living, it is just subsisting. We should not just subsist; we should live." Thank you, and have a good trip to Bethlehem."
At the end of Vespers, students from Brazil handed over the image of Mary Sedes Sapientiae to a student delegation from France. During World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in the Year of Faith, the Marian icon was in the care of Brazilian students; now it will travel to all French university chaplaincies.