Pontiff Urges Students to Be Wise, Not Arrogant

Notes St. Paul's Opposition to Intellectual Pride

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging students to seek the true wisdom that comes from God, not the "wisdom of this world."



The Pope made this invitation today when he greeted students in St. Peter's Basilica after a Mass marking the inauguration of the academic year for pontifical and ecclesiastical universities of Rome. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, celebrated the Mass.

The Holy Father clarified that divine wisdom is not opposed to human knowledge, but is a question of attitude.

The "wisdom of this world," he said, "is a way of living and seeing things, dispensing with God and following popular opinion, according to the criteria of success and power."

Divine wisdom, on the other hand, is "following the mind of Christ, the one who opens the eyes of the heart to follow the path of truth and love," the Pontiff added.

Thus when St. Paul makes this distinction between types of wisdom, Benedict XVI explained, what he denounces is "the poison of false wisdom, which is human pride. It is not, therefore, knowledge in itself that can cause harm, but rather presumption, the 'vainglory' from what one has come -- or imagines he has come -- to know."

The Apostle, the Pope continued, "doesn't want in any way to lead to an undervaluing of the human effort necessary for knowing, but rather places himself on another plane: Paul is interested in emphasizing -- and he does it without any half measures -- what it is that is truly worthwhile for salvation and that which, on the other hand, can bring division and ruin."

What St. Paul opposes, he affirmed, is "a type of intellectual pride, in which man, even knowing a lot, loses his sensitivity for the truth and his willingness to open himself to the novelty of divine action."

The Bishop of Rome thus invited the students to "consider spiritual formation according to the thought of Christ as fundamental " and a "true perspective for your studies."

"To know and understand spiritual things, it is necessary to be spiritual men and women, because if one is of the flesh, he inevitably falls into stubbornness, even if he studies much and is a 'wise one' and 'debater of this age,'" he added, citing St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians.

"Remaining faithful to this Jesus that Mary offers us, to this Christ who the Church presents us," the Pope concluded, "we can engage ourselves intensely in intellectual work, interiorly free of the temptation to pride and glorifying always and only in the Lord."