Vatican City, 31 December 2013 (VIS) – On Tuesday 31 December at 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father presided at the first Vespers of the Solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God. This was followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the civil year, and the Eucharistic blessing.
“While the year 2013 reaches its end”, said Pope Francis in his homily, “we gather together, as if in a basket, the days, the weeks, the months we have lived, to offer to the Lord. And we ask ourselves bravely how we have lived the time that He has given to us. Have we used it above all for ourselves, for our own interests, or have we known how to use it also for others? And for God? How much time have we set aside to 'be with Him', in prayer and in silence?”
“And let us think also of this city of Rome”, continued the Holy Father. “What has happened this year? What is happening, and what will happen? How is the quality of life in this city? This depends on all of us! How is the quality of our 'citizenship?' This year did we make our own 'small contribution', to make it more liveable, tidier and friendlier? Indeed, the face of a town is like a mosaic whose pieces are all those who live there. Of course, those vested with authority a have greater responsibility, but we are all jointly responsible, for better or for worse".
"Rome is a city of unique beauty. It has an extraordinary spiritual and cultural heritage. Yet, even in Rome there are so many people whose lives are marked by material and moral misery, the poor, the destitute, the suffering, that appeal to the conscience of every citizen. Perhaps this contrast between the majestic surroundings full of artistic beauty, and social hardship of those in need is even more keenly felt in Rome. Rome is a city full of tourists, but also full of refugees. Rome is full of working people, but also people who are unable to find employment or who work in underpaid and sometimes undignified jobs, and everyone has the right to be treated with the same attitude of acceptance and fairness, because every one of us is the bearer of human dignity".
“It is the last day of the year. What will we do, how will we act next year, to make our city a little better? Rome in the coming year will be even more beautiful if she is richer in humanity, more hospitable and welcoming; if all of us are attentive and generous towards those in difficulty; if we collaborate in a constructive and supportive spirit, for the good of all. Rome in the new year will be better if people do not simply look on from afar, as if at a picture postcard, observing life 'from the balcony' without getting involved in human problems, the problems faced by men and women who, in the end … and indeed from the beginning, whether we like it or not, are our brothers and sisters”.
“From this point of view, the Church of Rome is committed to her duty of giving her contribution to the life and future of the city; to animating her with the leaven of the Gospel and being a sign and instrument of God's mercy”, concluded the Holy Father.
Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope visited the Nativity display arranged next to the obelisk in St. Peter's Square.