‘Do not be afraid to open yourselves to the encounter with Christ and to deepen your relationship with Him.’
Pope Francis has given this encouragement to Italian university students during his visit this morning to Rome’s ‘Roma Tre’ University, noting that if they do so, their hearts will be full of joy and lives, full with meaning.
These words were in the Pope’s prepared remarks for his visit to the public university to meet with the academic and student community, on the occasion of its 25-year anniversary. Since the Pontiff opted to speak off the cuff, Francis had the prepared discourse distributed to all present.
Upon arrival, Francis was received by the Rector Mario Panizza, the director general Pasquale Basilicata, and the vice-rector, Maria Francesca Renzi. After the welcoming remarks from the university’s rector, the Pope answered questions posed by four students, including a Syrian refugee who was among those Francis brought back with him from the Greek Island of Lesbos.
When the Pope’s improvised remarks are made available, ZENIT will bring you a translation as soon as possible.
Before starting to respond freely, the Pontiff described his prepared text to those gathered as his ‘well-thought’ remarks and recommended they read them later.
Don’t Fear Person Who Gives Joy and Meaning
In the text, the Pope candidly says how giving witness to Jesus can change their lives, filling their hearts with joy and lives with meaning.
“I would like to speak to you person-to-person, and give witness of who I am,” he said. “I profess myself Christian and the transcendence to which I open myself and look at has a name: Jesus.”
“I am convinced that His Gospel is a force of true personal and social renewal. Speaking thus, I do not propose to you illusions or philosophical or ideological theories, nor do I wish to engage in proselytism.”
The Holy Father underlined that he was speaking to them of a Person who came to meet him when he too was a young man, and Who opened horizons for him and changed his life.
“This Person can fill our heart with joy and our life with meaning,” Francis said.
Jesus, the Pope noted, travels with him always.
“He does not disappoint and does not betray. He is always with us. He puts Himself with respect and discretion along our life’s path, above all, He supports us in the hour of loss and defeat, in the moment of weakness and sin, to always put us back on the way.”
This, he said, “is the personal testimony of my life.”
“Do not be afraid to open yourselves to the horizons of the spirit, and if you receive the gift of faith – because faith is a gift – do not be afraid to open yourselves to the encounter with Christ and to deepen your relationship with Him.”
Faith Never Limits, But Always Opens
“Faith never limits the ambit of reason, but opens it to an integral vision of man and of reality, preserving one from the danger of reducing the person to ‘human material,” he said.
Difficulties do not disappear with Jesus, Francis admitted, but, he noted, they are addressed in a different way, without fear, without lying to oneself and to others. Rather, he said, they are addressed with the light and strength that come from Him.
Pope Francis concluded, praying, “May hope be the light that always illumines your study and your commitment,” and invoking upon them his blessing.
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Prepared Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-prepared-text-to-roma-tre-university-students/
Off-the-Cuff Remarks: to be made available as soon as possible
For articles on the Pope’s off-the-cuff remarks:
On Social Existence: https://zenit.org/articles/social-coexistence-is-accomplished-with-dialogue-says-pope-francis/
On Youth Unemployment: https://zenit.org/articles/youth-unemployment-leads-to-suicides-and-terrorism-warns-the-pope/