Dear young people of F.U.C.I.! (Italian Catholic Federation of University students) 

 I was pleased to know that your federation is preparing to celebrate an Extraordinary National Congress in Arezzo to rediscover the prophetic figure of my venerable predecessor Pope Paul VI, who was your Assistant Central from 1925 to 1933, and whom I will have the joy of proclaiming Blessed 19 October 2014. By addressing to the participants and all members my affectionate greetings, I wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness and accompany the work that you carry out, with three words that can help you in your efforts.

1 The first word that I give you is “studium”. The essential part of university life lies in the study, hard and patient work of thinking that reveals a tension of human being towards the truth, goodness and beauty. Be aware to receive in the study, a fruitful opportunity to recognize and give voice to the deepest desires kept in your heart, and the ability to make them mature.

 Study is implementing a precise vocation. For this, university life is a dynamism, oriented, characterized by research and sharing. Take advantage of this favoured time and study deeply and consistently, always open to others. Do not settle on partial truths or comforting illusions, but accept to study a more complete understanding of reality. To do this you need the humility of listening and the foresight of looking. Studying is not to appropriate reality in order to manipulate it, but let this reality speak to us and reveal to us something, very often on ourselves; and the reality does not let itself understood without a willingness to refine our perspective, looking at it with new eyes. Then study with courage and hope. Only in this way, the university will become the place of a thorough and careful discernment, an observatory on the world and on the issues that most deeply interrogate human being. Perseverance in work and loyalty to the things can bear much fruit. The study is the vigil of the sentry. And this is the real leap in quality that occurs in the university, that makes us develop a unified personality and makes us become adults in the intellectual life as in the spiritual. The study becomes an extraordinary interior work and above all an experience of grace: “pray as if everything depended on God, work as if everything depended on us,” said St. Ignatius of Loyola. We must do our best and make us comfortable, receptive to a truth that is not ours, that is given to us always with a measure of gratitude.

2 The second word that I give you is “search”. The method of your study is research, dialogue and debate. The F.U.C.I. always experienced the humility of the research, the attitude of silent acceptance of the unknown, the unusual, the other, and demonstrate its openness and willingness to walk with all those who are driven by a restless tension to the Truth, believers and non-believers, foreigner and excluded. The research inquires continuously, becomes encounter with the mystery and opens to the faith: the research makes possible the encounter between faith, reason and science, allowing a harmonious dialogue between them, a fruitful exchange that the awareness and acceptance of limits of human understanding, allows a scientific research conducted in freedom of conscience. Through this method of research it is possible to reach an ambitious goal: to heal the rift between the Gospel and contemporary style through cultural mediation, a traveling mediation without denying cultural differences, rather enhancing them, might serve as positive horizon for projects. The research teaches us to be able of planning and investment, even if it requires effort and patience. It is in the long term that can be harvested the rewards of what you sow in the research!

This task is given to young people today, especially university students because they are called to a cultural challenge: the culture of our time is hungry of the proclamation of the Gospel, it needs to be revived by strong testimonies. Facing the risk of superficiality, haste, relativism, we cannot forget the efforts of thought and training, critical spirit and presence that was given to man and only to him, and that is inscribed in his dignity of person. Remember the words of Paul VI: ” It is the idea that drives man, who generates his strength. A man with no idea is a man with no personality.” Know how to approach the primacy of reality with the power of ideas that you have researched. Take this challenge with the creativity of young people and the free commitment of the university study, this is your job!

3 The third word is the “border”. The University is a frontier that awaits you, a periphery where to welcome and heal the man’s existential poverty. Poverty in relationships, in human growth, tend to fill heads without creating a shared project of society, a common purpose, a sincere brotherhood. Always remember to meet each other, catch the ”feeling’ of the people of today, to be impregnated of their joys and hopes, their griefs and anxieties. Do not ever oppose barriers that, by wanting to defend the frontier, block the encounter with the Lord. In the study and in the forms of digital communication, your friends sometimes experience loneliness, lack of hope and confidence in their abilities: bring hope and always open to others your work, always open yourself to the share, to dialogue. In culture, especially today we need to put ourselves at the side of everybody. You can overcome the clash between peoples, only if you succeed in meeting and sustaining a culture of brotherhood. I urge you to continue to take the Gospel to the University and the culture in the Church!

To you, young is especially entrusted with this task: always have your eyes fixed on the future. Be fertile ground in walking with humanity, be renewal in culture, in society and in the Church. It takes courage, humility and listening in order to give expression to renewal. I entrust you to the Blessed Paul VI in the Communion of Saints encourages you on your way, and while I ask you to pray for me, I cordially bless you, together with your assistants, family and friends.