“I encourage you to be faithful to your roots and to your task; to persevere in the commitment to communicate the intellectual, spiritual and moral values, which can prepare your students to participate with wisdom and responsibility in the life of the Church, and in the debates on the crucial challenges of our time.”
That was the message Pope Francis delivered February 16, 2019, to the Docents and Students of the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum,” on the 50th anniversary of the Institute’s foundation. He received the group in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.
Following is the full text of the Holy Father’s address:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I’m happy to welcome you on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Patristic Institute “Augustinianum.” I thank Father Alejandro Moral Anton, Prior General of the Augustinians and General Moderator of the Institute. I greet the President, Father Giuseppe Caruso, the counselors and collaborators, the Members of the Faculty, the administrators and the students. I greet in a special way one of your fellow Augustinians, who was among the Founding Fathers of the Institute, Cardinal Prospero Grech. And I would also like to thank the many Professors Emeritus, who aren’t here, but who have left a mark on the Institute. And there comes to my memory Professor Maria Grazia Mara, who taught so many things, who is 95, and still publishes and teaches catechesis to children. Also Cardinal Grech: <his> homilies are in fact simple . . . When the wise arrive at that age they enjoy a grandiose simplicity, which does so much good. Thank you to all the elderly and to the Professors who are retired. I’m glad to have this opportunity to be together with you to share your jubilee celebration.
This means, first of all, to thank God for all that the Augustinianum has been and done over half a century. However, the present circumstance invites us to go back with a grateful memory to the origins — recalled by the Father Prior a short while ago –, when, in the ambit of the multi-secular tradition of the Augustinian Order, the Studium was born in Rome, dedicated to the sacred sciences, in particular, the Fathers of the Church, Saint Augustine, and his heritage.
As a depository of the great Augustinian “school,” marked by the search for wisdom, the Augustinianum was founded to contribute to preserve and transmit the richness of the Catholic tradition, especially the tradition of the Fathers. This contribution is essential for the Church. It’s always so, but especially in our time, as Saint Paul VI affirmed in his address at the inauguration of the Institute: “The return to the Fathers of the Church is part of that going back to the Christian origins, without which it would be impossible to carry out the biblical renewal, the liturgical reform and the new theological research desired by the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council” (May 4, 1970), he said. And, on visiting the Institute in 1982, Saint John Paul II confirmed this order saying, among other things, that “to put oneself in the school of the Fathers means to learn to know Christ better and to know man better,” and that “this knowledge [helps] the Church enormously in [her]] mission” (May 7, 1982).
Therefore, I encourage you to be faithful to your roots and to your task; to persevere in the commitment to communicate the intellectual, spiritual and moral values, which can prepare your students to participate with wisdom and responsibility in the life of the Church, and in the debates on the crucial challenges of our time. Such a service is closely connected to evangelization and contributes to promoting the growth of the human family towards its definitive fullness in God (Cf. Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, 1). Evident here is Saint Augustine’s echo (Cf. Confessions, X, 23.33; I. 1, 1). In fact, he knew and expressed to the highest degree the restlessness of the human heart until it finds its rest in God who, in Jesus Christ, reveals to us the profound truth of our life and our final destiny.
In conclusion, I wish to share another expression of Saint Augustine, treated in De Doctrina Cristiana: “How much then should those that will proclaim things received from others, pray, before receiving them, for those from whom they received it, pray so that they themselves can proclaim it well, and that those, for whom the good is proclaimed, will receive it” (IV, 30, 63).
Dear brothers and sisters, while you celebrate this anniversary, I assure you of my prayers. I exhort you also to pray for one another — this is important in an institution. It’s necessary — so that the Lord sustains you in your daily commitment of research, of teaching and of study. With affection, I entrust you and the whole Augustinian Order, the Institute’s community and your dear ones to the intercession of Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, and I impart my Blessing to all. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me.[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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