The Holy Father Francis wished everyone’s hearts to be filled with gratitude and hope during the New Year’s Eve celebration of First Vespers on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the singing of the Te Deum hymn of Thanksgiving for 2023 in Saint Peter's Basilica, according to Vatican News.
Around 6,500 participants attended the traditional end-of-year celebration, while several others awaited Pope Francis outside the Basilica.
"Faith in Jesus Christ, God incarnate, born of the Virgin Mary, gives a new way of experiencing time and life," he said in his homily, as he reflected on how gratitude, hope, and faith empower people to live differently from a worldly mentality.
The "essential dimension" of our relationship with God and our brothers and sisters is sometimes missing, while most people may give thanks on the last night of the year, said Pope Francis.
In the liturgy that culminated in the great hymn of thanksgiving, Te Deum laudamus, the Holy Father said the faith-inspired "praise, wonder, gratitude" comes with the celebration of the Lord's birth and learning from the Virgin Mother, Mary.
The Pope suggested that we contemplate the immense gratitude in Mary's heart as she gazed upon the newborn Jesus, experiencing the astounding depth of being the Mother of God, fully aware with Joseph of the Child's origin, yet witnessing His "breathing, crying, needing to eat, to be covered, cared for."
The theme of the Jubilee 2025 is "Pilgrims of Hope," so he wished that Rome prepare to be a "city of hope" of the Church and civil communities together, "a witness that, more than in events, consists in the style of life, the ethical and spiritual quality of our living together."
Among others, Pope Francis suggested it would be good if the elderly and those with physical challenges were able to visit and appreciate the beauty of Rome's perennial and universal historic center, matched with greater functionality and living conditions for citizens and visitors.
He said that 2024 will be dedicated to prayer in preparation for the Jubilee. (MTV)
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