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With solemn Vespers, Te Deum, Pope closes calendar year

Catholic World News - December 31, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI presided at the final liturgical ceremony of 2012, the Solemn Vespers for the Feast of Mary the Mother of God, at St. Peter’s basilica on December 31.

The Vespers service—actually the first observance of the Liturgy of the Hours for January 1—is “a synthesis of all the hours of the year that is about to come to an end,” the Pope observed about the evening ceremony. The solemn liturgy included the traditional signing of the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

In his brief homily the Holy Father said that the news of the secular world can be discouraging. But he said, “we cannot rely solely on the news if we want to understand the world and life. We must be able to remain in silence, in meditation, in calm and prolonged reflection.”

Reminding the congregation that the Church is celebrating a Year of Faith, the Pope said that the observance is designed to increase knowledge of the Catholic faith, as a way of stimulating evangelical efforts. He explained:

In order to proclaim the Gospel and to allow those who still do not know Jesus, or have abandoned Him, to cross again the threshold of faith and live in communion with God, it is essential to know in depth the meaning of the truths contained in the Profession of Faith.

At the conclusion of the Vespers service, the Pope went out into St. Peter’s Square to visit the crèche set up there. He joined with members of the Swiss Guard in singing traditional Christmas hymns, and greeted some of the pilgrims who were in Rome for Christmas.

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