MEETING OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
WITH THE STUDENTS OF "VISCONTI" HIGH SCHOOL OF ROME,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE ALOISIAN JUBILEE YEAR
Paul VI Hall
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Dear boys and girls, and non-boys and non-girls, good morning to all!
I am happy to welcome you together with your teachers, your families and many friends involved in the solidarity initiatives that make your educational journey complete. I greet you all with affection and I thank Mrs Dean for her words: she did not spare words or images, in the real, concrete description of the situation in the present world and of the attitudes that we must carry forward. Thank you, Madam, and keep it up: without words. Forward!
Yours is a school community that seeks to unite, with education, the global formation of the citizen and the Christian. And if you go this way, in your institution, in your High School, what is unfortunately true in so many other parts will not be true: that the educational pact has broken. I see that the educational pact between educators, families, you guys, volunteers is united and this makes you grow enough. Throughout its history it has had among its students - as Mrs. Preside said - Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, and Franco Modigliani, the future Nobel Prize in Economics. The educational history of the famous Collegio Romano continues in your scholastic institute, located in the building commissioned by Saint Ignatius of Loyola and inaugurated by Pope Gregory XIII in 1583. Important figures who have contributed to the progress of science and growth have emerged from that College of society, favoring a constructive dialogue between faith and reason. The values of the Gospel, which have animated the culture of generations and generations of Italians, can still illuminate consciences, families, communities, so that in every field one operates in respect for moral values and for the good of man.
In those classrooms, which are yours today, great scientists like the fathers Clavius, Kircher and Secchi have taught, and many young people who have marked the history of the modern Church have prepared to leave for the missions. I am thinking in particular of Father Matteo Ricci, one of the first to establish a bridge of friendship between China and the West, implementing a still valid model of inculturation of the Christian message in the Chinese world. To you the task of taking this torch and carrying on, in the changed historical and social conditions, this passion for knowledge and culture that has characterized those who preceded you. I said passion. Unfortunately many times, in front of culture, indifference is found in front of science. No: passion.
The school as such is everyone's good and must remain a forge in which we educate ourselves about inclusion, respect for diversity and collaboration. Inclusion, respect for diversity to collaborate. Please don't be afraid of diversity. Dialogue between different cultures, different people enriches a country, enriches the homeland and keeps us going with mutual respect, keeps us going, looking at a land for everyone, not just for some. It is a laboratory that anticipates what the community should be in the future. And this is where the religious experience plays an important role, in which all that is authentically human enters. The Church is committed, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, to promoting the universal value of fraternity which is based on freedom, on the honest search for truth, on the promotion of justice and solidarity, especially towards the weakest people. When there is no freedom there is no education, no future. When there is no honest search for the truth but there is an imposed truth, which takes away from you the ability to seek the truth, there is no future: it cancels you as a person. And when there is no promotion of justice, we will certainly end up in a pusillanimous, selfish country that only works for a few. Without the attention and the search for these values there can be no real peaceful coexistence. When there is injustice, hatred, confrontation begins and ends ... we all know how it ends. With satisfaction I had confirmation from the words of the Dean that your school, together with classical culture, promotes these values in various forms. Go ahead with courage on this road! It is not easy, but it is the only road capable of bearing fruit, of giving great fruits for each of you and for your country.
In the same building as your school, there is the monumental Church of St. Ignatius, in whose interior lie the remains of St. Luigi Gonzaga, whose Jubilee Year is underway for the 450th anniversary of his birth. He attended as a student the same environments that you attend today. St. Louis is the patron saint of youth; for this reason I like to recall some themes that I draw from the history of this great saint and which seem to me very current.
First of all I want to remind you that Luigi Gonzaga was able to make important choices for his life, without letting himself be carried away by careerism and the god of money. There is a great need for young people who know how to act in this way, putting the common good before personal interests! To succeed in doing this it is necessary to take care of one's own interiority, through study, research, educational dialogue, prayer and listening to one's conscience. I say to you, here, young people, students of the institute: have you learned to listen to your conscience? Do you know what happens inside you? You have learned this healthy introspection - not that sick introspection of neurotics - healthy introspection: what goes inside me, what's going on inside me? It is more than a science, it is a wisdom, not to become a wind vane that moves in the wind from one side to the other. Think well about this. And it would also be nice that among you, as a group, with the leaders of the institute you reflected on what conscience is, what happens in the conscience, how can I find what happens to me, how good attitudes grow in consciousness? not good attitudes ... Do this experience: it will be very useful. And this presupposes the ability to carve out spaces of silence. Don't be afraid of silence, of being alone - not always, no, because this is not good - but taking some time alone, carving out spaces for silence. Do not be afraid of silence, to write your own diary, for example, in silence. Do not be afraid of the inconveniences and dryness that silence can bring. "Ah, I don't, silence is boring!" At the beginning, it may be, but then, as you go into yourself, in silence, it no longer bores you. Free yourself from cell phone addiction, please! You surely have heard of the addiction drama. "Sure, yes, Father." Addictions to noise: if there is no noise I don't feel well ...; and many other dependencies. But this one is very thin, very thin. The mobile phone is a great help, it is a great progress; should be used, it's nice that everyone knows how to use it. But when you become a slave to the phone, you lose your freedom. The mobile phone is for communicating, for communication: it is so nice to communicate between us. But be careful, that there is a danger that, when the mobile phone is drugs, communication is reduced to simple "contacts". But life is not to "contact", it is to communicate! Let us remember what St. Augustine wrote: "in interior homine habitat veritas" (De vera rel., 39, 72). The truth lives within the person. We need to look for it. It is valid for everyone, for those who believe and for those who do not believe. We have all the interior life. Only in inner silence can the voice of conscience be grasped and distinguished from the voices of selfishness and hedonism, which are different voices.
The ability to love with a pure and free heart is known of St. Louis. Only those who love come to know God. In affective life, two dimensions are essential: modesty and fidelity. Love with modesty, not brazenly. And remain faithful in love. Love is not a game: love is the most beautiful thing that God has given us, the ability to love. "God is love," says the Bible, and God gave us this ability. Don't dirty it with the impudence of non-modesty and infidelity. Love cleanly, but great! To love with an enlarged heart every day: that wisdom to widen the heart, not to make it small, hard as stone. Widen it. And God told his people, as a great promise, that he would take away his heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh. Enlarge the heart of flesh: this is to love. With fidelity and modesty. The sense of modesty refers to a vigilant conscience defending the dignity of the person and authentic love, precisely in order not to trivialize body language. Fidelity, together with respect for the other, is an essential dimension of every true love relationship, since you cannot play with feelings. But loving is not just an expression of the affective bond of a couple or a strong, beautiful and fraternal friendship. A concrete form of love is also given by the commitment to solidarity with others, especially the poorest. Love of neighbor feeds on imagination and always goes further: things are invented to help, to move forward ... The fantasy of love. Don't be afraid of this. Love goes beyond the walls, beyond the differences, beyond obstacles. Also in this S. Luigi is a model, because he died consuming himself in the service of the plague patients, that is of people who were on the margins of society and rejected by all. Love has taken him further, beyond ... The fantasy of love. Don't forget this word: the fantasy of love. Love is creative and always goes on.
I am delighted to see that friends are present here today who, as a school community, welcome, putting themselves at their service with the popular canteen on Saturday. The commitment of many of you to volunteering is a sign of hope. Volunteering is one of the most beautiful and strongest things that Italy has: please keep it well. Grow in volunteering. Do not let yourself be overcome in generosity: the volunteer always goes beyond, in generosity, he does not let himself be won! The same family, social and couple life relationships are enriched when the dimension of free service is present. In this regard, I like to quote Archbishop Tonino Bello, an exemplary Churchman and witness of charity. He loved to repeat: "He who does not live to serve does not serve to live".
Dear young students, do not stop dreaming big - this is a beautiful thing for young people: to dream big - and to desire a better world for everyone. Don't settle for mediocrity in the relationships between you, in the care of interiority, in planning your future, in your commitment to a more just and beautiful world. Tomorrow, Palm Sunday, begins the Holy Week which will culminate on Easter, when we will celebrate the resurrection of Christ, the foundation of Christian hope. I offer each of you the best wishes for holy Easter holidays. Easter is the time of renewal of the promises of Baptism, it is also a time of renewal of the soul: it is time to flourish! I invite you to do so with conviction and trust in the love of the Lord. It is He who gives you and will always give you strength and courage in the difficulties you encounter on your way.
And then I would like to add something that came to my mind while listening to your Headmaster. In your institute, there are no wars or aggressions. It gives me so much pain to see when in some school there is bullying. Fight against this aggression that is truly a seed of war, fight. May there be peace, without aggression towards anyone, without bullying. No bullying in your institution!
I thank you for this meeting. I bless you here present, I bless your friends and loved ones. And I ask you to please pray for me. Thanks and Happy Easter!
And now I give the blessing to all of you, to all your friends, to all the people who study, working in the institute at different levels, to families.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Blog Share from Vatican.va- Unofficial Translation