Archbishop of HyderabadOn the 25th of March, the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord,’ the Church solemnly celebrates the beginning of its existence in this world as the eschatological covenantal community of the adopted children of the Eternal Father who enjoy ‘eternal life’ with Him and with His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord in the Holy Spirit. Just as the existence of the human person in a human spiritual soul with a human body in this world begins on the day of his or her conception in his or her mother’s womb through the direct creative act of God in response to the procreative act of his or her ‘father’ and ‘mother’, likewise the only-begotten Eternal Son of God existing eternally as God the WORD in the numerically one divine nature of God the Father began to express Himself in this world in a human soul not as a human person but through the human soul created for Him and hypostatically united to Him by His Eternal Father in the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb, in response to Her consent to conceive Him in a true and holy human nature as His Virgin Mother, and become the definitive head of the fallen human race through His ability to redeem it by offering an atoning sacrifice for all its sins in His human nature and at once eschatalogically sanctify it and save it through His ability in His divine nature to give every obedient human person the holiness, immortality, glory and eternal life of His divine Sonship through His Holy Spirit forever: ‘This is eternal life, that they may know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (Jn.17:3).’

The first human person to receive the holiness of His divine Sonship from His Eternal Father through the gift of His Holy Spirit was the Blessed Virgin Mary at the moment She was created by God the Father in the womb of Her mother St.Ann in order that He, God the Son, might receive a true and genuine human nature from Her human body through His Eternal Father’s creative action, and enter our world as His incarnate Son ‘sent’ to give us eternal life, even as the Angel Gabriel declared to Her: ‘Hail, full of grace! The LORD is with you! Blessed are you among women!’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, also, the Holy One born of you will be called the Son of God’ (Lk.1:28,35). Thus it is through a ‘holy exchange’ in which the Blessed Virgin Mary was created as a definitive partaker of God’s only begotten Son’s divine holiness through the indwelling of the His Holy Spirit in Her soul and God’s only-begotten Son received a true human nature for Himself from Her from His Eternal Father through the cooperation of His Holy Spirit’ that the only begotten Son of the Eternal Father through whose word all things have been created, entered our world as ‘the Son sanctified and sent into the world’ as the historical Jesus for us and for our salvation (Jn.10:36).’ It is this ‘holy exchange’ that we most joyfully celebrate on this solemnity of the incarnation of our Lord in the Holy Spirit and express our most profound praise and thanksgiving to the Eternal Father for it, in union with the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mother of God.

Let us together with Holy Mother the Church, look upon the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fragrance of the infancy of Her personal life with Blessed Trinity and sing in the words of the Song of songs: “who is this arising like the dawn, fair as the moon, resplendent as the Sun, terrible as an army with banners!” And let us hail Her in the words from the book of Judith: “May the Lord God be blessed the creator of Heaven and Earth. The trust you have shown shall not pass from the memories of men but shall ever remind them of the power of God”.


‘Catholic schools and universities make a great contribution to the mission of the Church when they are at the service of growth in humanity, in dialogue and in hope’


Dear brothers and sisters, I thank the Cardinal Prefect for his words of introduction to this meeting and I warmly greet the recently appointed Members of the Congregation for Catholic Education, among whom is the Prefect himself, who presides over the Plenary Assembly for the first time. I greet the members of the ‘Gravissimum Educationis’ Foundation, constituted a short time ago to re-launch the contents of the Conciliar Declaration. During these days, you have taken many arguments into consideration, to assess the Dicastery’s work over the last three years and to set out guidelines for future commitments. The sectors of the vast educational field, which are the competence of your Congregation, have committed you in reflection and discussion on several important aspects, such as the initial and permanent formation of docents and directors, also in consideration of the necessity of an inclusive and informal education; or as the irreplaceable contribution of the Religious Congregations, as well as the support that can come from the particular Churches and from organizations of the sector. A good part of your work was dedicated to the ecclesiastical and Catholic university institutions to update the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana; to promote studies of Canon Law in relation to the reform of marriage annulment processes, as well as to support university pastoral care. In addition, you considered the opportunity to offer directives to increase the responsibility of all those who are involved in the demanding field of education.

As I recalled in the Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, “universities are a privileged realm to think and to develop the commitment of evangelization”; and “Catholic schools […] constitute a very valid contribution to the evangelization of culture, also in countries and cities where an adverse situation stimulates us to use creativity to find adequate courses” (n. 134). In this horizon of evangelization, I wish to share with you some expectations. First of all, in face of an invasive individualism, which renders us humanly poor and culturally sterile, it is necessary to humanize education. The school and the university make full sense only in relation to the formation of the person. All educators are called to collaborate in this process of human growth, with their professionalism and with the richness of humanity of which they are bearers, to help young people to be builders of a more supportive and pacific world. Even more, Catholic educational institutions have the mission to offer horizons open to transcendence. Gravissimum educationis recalls that education is at the service of an integral humanism and that the Church, as Mother Teacher, looks always at the new generations in the perspective of the “formation of the human person, be it in view of his ultimate end be it for the good of the various societies, of which man is a member and in which, on becoming an adult, he will have tasks to perform” (n. 1).

Another expectation is that the culture of dialogue will grow. Our world has become a global village with multiple processes of interaction, where every person belongs to humanity and shares the hope of a better future with the entire family of peoples. At the same time, unfortunately, there are so many forms of violence, poverty, exploitation, discrimination, marginalization – restrictive approaches to fundamental liberties that create a disposable culture. In this context the Catholic educational institutes are called, in the front line, to practice the grammar of dialogue that forms to encounter and appreciation of the cultural and religious diversities. Dialogue, in fact, educates when a person relates with respect, esteem, sincerity in listening and expresses himself with authenticity, without obfuscating or mitigating his identity nourished by evangelical inspiration. We are encouraged by the conviction that the new generations, educated in a Christian way to dialogue, will come out of the school and university classrooms motivated to build bridges and, hence, to find new answers to the many challenges of our time. In a more specific sense, the schools and universities are called to teach a method of intellectual dialogue geared to the search for truth. Saint Thomas was and still is teacher in this method, which consists in taking the other, the interlocutor, seriously, seeking to thoroughly understand his reasons, his objections, to be able to respond not superficially but in an appropriate way. Only thus can we truly advance together in knowledge of the truth.

There is a last expectation that I would like to share with you: the contribution of education in sowing hope. Man cannot live without hope and education is generator of hope. In fact, it is a making something be born, it is making something grow, it is placed in the dynamic of giving life. And the life that is born is the most gushing source of hope; a life inclined to the search of the beautiful, of the good, of the true and of communion with others for a common growth. I am convinced that today’s young people have, above all, need for this life that builds a future. Therefore, the true educator is like a father or a mother that transmits a life capable of a future. To have this temper one must listen to young people: the “labor of the ear.” To listen to young people! And we will do so in particular with the forthcoming Synod of Bishops dedicated to them. Education, then, has in common with hope the same “cloth” of risk. Hope is not a superficial optimism, not even the capacity to look at things benevolently, but first of all it is being able to risk in the right way, precisely like education.

Dear brothers and sisters, Catholic schools and universities make a great contribution to the mission of the Church when they are at the service of growth in humanity, in dialogue and in hope. I thank you for the work you do to make educational institutions places and experiences of evangelization. I invoke upon you the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mary Sedes Sapientiae, that He may render effective your ministry in favor of education. I ask you, please, to pray for me, and I bless you from my heart. Thank you!

[Original text: Italian - Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Source: education/