FROM EUROPE TO ROME
FROM EUROPE TO ROME
Whatever things are true,
whatever things are honorable,
whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure,
whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report;
if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise,
think about these things.
The things which you learned, received, heard, and saw in me:
do these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
(Fil 4: 8-9)
The educational eagerness shown by Paul the Apostle, patron saint of the Italian Rovers, proves to be an irresistible one. We passionately wish to retrace his life’s path following in his footsteps, his being a skilled master of life, of humanity, of heroic virtues, of everlasting values. It is well known that teaching, in Paul’s period, could come exclusively from an indepth study of the Holy Scripture. Paul used this not only to boast his personal knowledge, but also to grow up in his self the complete New Man’s personality, which was overwhelmingly springing in his heart. His texts convey a wonderful pedagogical heritage; still today they hold a rich modernity that questions and challenges our educational duty. In his Speech at the Areopagus of Athens (Acts 17: 16-34), St. Paul addresses an attentive audience made up of both epicurean philosophers, who glorified the cult of pleasure and of the ephemeral, and stoic philosophers with their pantheistical vision of the world.
Paul demonstrated through admonitions, exhortations and recommendations to be also a capable pedagogue, who didn’t mind the approval from a lot of people as much as the qualitative value of a person saved and set free from logics both enslaving and dehumanizing. We are attracted by his fierce passion for the Man as God’s immense masterpiece, as well as his behavioural issues in everyday’s life.
Paul represents indeed a model for imitation, because he matched the preaching of the Word of God with an effective testimony of life. The basic paradigms of his pedagogical style have always been knowledge and listening skills. Listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of one Person: Jesus Christ, the Resurrected Crucified, not a doctrine or a fine, yet fascinating and enchanting theory, but a real Person. Essential features of Paul’s dimension are the capability to listen to the others, the so called “Gentiles”, and the knowledge of facts, circumstances and events: these are the pillars on which his beliefs rest on.
Paul’s speech at the Areopagus in Athens opens up to the unlikeminded ones, to the sceptical ones to the dominant civilization. He meets people, who are not yet Christians, to have talks, to reason and to confront himself with them. Paul accepts their points of view, on which he will insert, mildly and without forcing, his action for change. Paolo dialogues with the cultures of his time, he dialogues with his partners, with common people to convert them to Christianity. Keeping in mind his Judaic origin, his Greek mother tongue, his being a “civis romanus”, Paul is a man of three cultures. He is a tireless educator, he preaches the Gospel everywhere: in the Judaic synagogues as well as in the squares and schools of heathen cities. Tradition and cultural intellect make up the base of Paul’s teaching, especially aimed to consolidate strong relationships between generations, and we can be sure that St. Paul is an educational model worth to be discovered: he is to us like a beacon light brightening the gloomy shadows of distress we are living in nowadays. Jesus said once: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” These strongly meaningful words, unique for the way they qualify the human existence, are quoted by the Apostle in his speech held in Miletus, extremely significant for us today. (Acts 20: 35)
As St. Paul testifies, there won’t be true joy without the others, and indeed the others are not the evil, as, on the contrary, the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre used to state; just as true as the assertion that there won’t be hope along the road if many don’t hope together while travelling on it. Yet Hope is the fruit of giving, of communion, of solidarity. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Rm 1:16). So, shall we not stop our march, the rhythm of our pace be faster and faster towards him who expects from us, as from Paul at his time, to be waken up to life by a passionate folly, quivering of Love.