Seeking truth and growing in wisdom - ACSA End of Year Mass 2018

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Seeking truth and growing in wisdom - ACSA End of Year Mass 2018

My episcopal motto is Gratia et Veritas, Grace and Truth. The scriptural base for it is found in John 1:17: “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

The motto expresses my own Christian experience, my personal journey of faith. It was my experience of the grace of God during my student days that transformed and inspired my personal faith. I realised that God acts immediately and directly in our lives. I describe my experience as that of grace, because it was something wholly unexpected and certainly undeserved. The experience revealed to me that God loved me personally and wanted to actively work in my life and lead me on the paths he had chosen for me.

Grace is an expression of the graciousness of God. It is about the mercy of God. It is about the love of God. Grace, in its more immediate expression, is the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit within each of us. In the light of my experience as a student, my life has been one of seeking the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Grace touches and transforms the human heart. Grace breathes life into the human heart. In the end what is most important is living under grace, or living within a stream of grace.

I could spend the whole homily speaking about grace.

However, there was a second movement of God in me. It came as a consequence of the grace I received. It was the enlightenment of my mind. It is as though as grace transforms the heart it move up to enlighten the mind. I found that I had a fascination for the truth. It was a thirst to know Christian truth as revealed in the Sacred Scriptures and as faithfully taught by the Church.

I remember well my desire to read the Fathers and the great saints of the Church. I developed a special love for the spiritual tradition, the great spiritual writers, the writings of the saints.

One very special moment of joy for me was the English publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I went down to Canberra to be present as the President of the Bishops Conference, Archbishop Frank Carroll, formally launched the Catechism in Australia. I bought a copy there and then. In the coming weeks I read it cover to cover and my soul sung!

Over the years I have desired to promote the beauty and richness of Catholic teaching. I was captivated by the writings of Pope St John Paul II. Here was truth being offered which addressed the challenges of our own time. I soaked up all his writings.

He wrote one document entitled, Veritatis Splendor. The very title excited my mind – the splendour of truth. Truth is luminous. Truth is glorious light that shines in our minds. Pope John Paul II said in the opening paragraph: “Truth enlightens man's intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord.” Truth reveals God to us, and leads us to God.

Truth has a companion and that companion is wisdom. Wisdom is the way truth can shape our thinking and shape our will. Our words and actions become inspired by truth, and flow forth in wise choices.

The theme of wisdom has been captured in the Mass this evening.

The patroness of ACSA is Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Our Lady under this title is a very appropriate patroness for all university students. In our devotion to her we ask for the gift of wisdom.

Study is not just about accumulating information. Nor is the achievement of tertiary study to be captured in exams passed and degrees awarded. These, of course, are absolutely necessary. However, tertiary study – indeed all study – finds its true fruitfulness in the acquiring of wisdom.

Growing in wisdom is a life’s work. However, it needs to be sought from earliest days. The more we seek the truth, the more we will grow in wisdom.

Now, I am sure you want to lay your pens aside, or more accurately stop at least for a while pumping out essays on your keyboard. The academic year has come to a close. You want to rest your weary mind. This I understand.

However, tonight I want to offer you two words. They are grace and truth.

Desire to live under grace. Desire for the Holy Spirit to be quickened in your heart. Pray that the Holy Spirit will wonderfully transform your heart.

Then, desire to know the truth. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind. Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth.

If you live under grace and truth, you will surely grow in wisdom.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Wednesday, 5 December 2018