Much like his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, our Holy Father has a special affection for you, the young of the Church. As an intellectual and former professor, he also has a special fondness for you as a student!
Consider his homily at Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent, where the audience was primarily students from the universities of Rome. This is just a tidbit!
The liturgical year that we are beginning with these Vespers also represents for you the journey to live once again the faithfulness of God, on which you are called to found your lives, as on a firm rock. In celebrating and living this itinerary of faith with the whole Church, you will experience that Jesus Christ is the one Lord of the cosmos and of history, without whom every human project risks coming to nothing. The liturgy, lived in its true spirit, is always the fundamental school for living the Christian faith, a “theological” faith which involves you in your whole being – spirit, soul, and body – to make you living stones in the edifice of the Church and collaborators of the New Evangelization. Especially in the Eucharist the living God makes himself so close that he becomes food that supports us on the journey, a presence that transforms us with the fire of his love.
Dear friends, we are living in a context in which we often come across indifference to God. However, I think that in the inner depths of those who live far from God – also among your peers – there is an inner longing for the infinite, for transcendence. It is your task to witness in the university halls to the close God who also shows himself in the search for the truth, the soul of all intellectual commitment.
If you have a chance, read the rest of the homily, as it is excellent food for thought, and especially for prayer, as Advent reaches its end next week and we begin the Christmas season.
What’s that Santa-looking hat on the Pope’s head, you may ask? It is called a camauro, a red velvet hat trimmed with ermine, and it has been a part of the papal wardrobe for centuries. Pope Benedict wore the camauro in December 2005, the first time a pope had donned the hat since John XXIII’s reign almost 50 years earlier.