By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY – The wisdom of the church fathers regarding the interior life of the person, often split between outward success and inner emptiness, continues to be a relevant subject today, Pope Francis said.
In a Dec. 5 message to participants in a public session of all the pontifical academies, the pope said that such issues “inevitably demand reflection on the inner and intimate essence of the human being.”
The subject of consciousness, self-awareness and the human heart, he said, are relevant in today’s world, which is “often characterized by concern with appearance, superficiality, the division between heart and mind, interiority and exteriority, consciousness and behavior.”
In his message, which was read by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, the pope reflected on the public session’s theme, “’In interiore homine’ (The inner man): Research paths in the Latin tradition.”
The theme is inspired by one of Saint Augustine’s early writings, “De vera religione” (“The true religion”), in which he states that truth of God dwells within the person.
St. Augustine’s reflections on “what true harmony consists of” and his call to perceive “the image of God” within one’s heart “are of extraordinary interest also in our times and are worth repeating to ourselves,” the pope said.
Those statements, he said, must be shared especially with young men and women who are “caught up in the labyrinths of superficiality and banality, of the external success that conceals an inner emptiness, of the hypocrisy that masks the split between appearances and the heart, between the beautiful and cared-for body and the soul, empty and arid.”
Pope Francis encouraged the members of the pontifical academies, especially those who are teachers, to pass down to younger generations “the wisdom of the fathers enclosed in the texts of Latin culture.”
Educators, he said, must “know how to speak to the hearts of the young, know how to treasure the very rich heritage of the Latin tradition to educate them in the path of life, and accompany them along paths rich in hope and confidence, drawing from the experience and wisdom of those who have had the joy and the courage to ‘return to themselves’ to pursue their own identity and human vocation.”