The annual pre-Christmas Mass for Roman university students, was celebrated in the Vatican on Friday by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. The Pope also came to the basilica to greet the students. The tradition of celebrating this Mass dates back to Servant of God John Paul II, who upheld the custom throughout the 26 years of his pontificate. Benedict XVI greeted the rectors, professors, chaplains and students from Italian universities, as well as student delegations from various European and African countries, and participants in a world congress for the pastoral care of foreign students, which is being promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. The Pope said: "Continue your reflections on the new humanism, bearing in mind the great challenges of modern times and seeking to bring faith and culture together harmoniously. How important it is at this moment in history to cultivate attentive cultural and spiritual research!" The Holy Father expressed his contentment at the fact that the five faculties of medicine in Rome have agreed to collaborate in certain fields concerning life, adding: "From a pastoral perspective, I appreciate the decision to dedicate more profound consideration to the theme of transmitting the faith, with a formative path that involves both students and teachers." He then called on young people "to follow joyfully the itinerary of your Christian formation," and to associate it with their daily studies. "It is necessary to rediscover the beauty of having Christ as the Master of one's life, and thus freely and consciously renewing one's own profession of faith." Turning to consider foreign students, the Pope pointed out how young people leaving their country of origin in order to study "face no small number of roblems, especially the risk of a crisis of identity, and of a loss of spiritual and moral values However, he went on, "for many young people the chance to study abroad represents a unique opportunity ... to contribute to the development of their own countries, and to participate actively in the mission of the Church. It is important to continue on the journey we have begun in order to meet the needs of these brothers and sisters of ours." With reference to the forthcoming Christmas celebrations, Benedict XVI made a call "to grasp the fullness of the message with which this feast presents us. God became Man, He came to dwell among us. Let us prepare our hearts to welcome Him Who came to save us by giving His life." The Holy Father concluded: "May you be guided by Mary Most Holy, 'Sedes Sapientiae.' Her icon, which is being taken around various nations, is now passing from the Polish to the Bulgarian delegation, to continue her 'peregrinatio' in the university cities. May she, the faithful Virgin, Mother of Christ, obtain for each of you and for your academic institutions the light of divine Knowledge, Christ the Lord."
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