Vespers began at 5 PM Rome Time in St Peter’s Basilica, with Pope Francis presiding over the prayers that constitute the Church’s official, public praise of God in the evening of the last day of the year, to be followed by the singing of the great hymn of gratitude in faith, the Te Deum, and the worship of the Blessed Sacrament before the giving of the blessing of the Eucharistic Lord.
In his homily, Pope Francis
focused on the sense of history that permeates the life of those whose
lives are signed by faith in Jesus Christ. “The biblical and Christian
vision of time and history,” he said, “is not cyclical, but linear: it
is a path that leads towards a conclusion.” He explained that the
passing year does not represent an end in itself, but a step on the way
towards a reality that is to be completed – another step toward the goal
that lies ahead of us: a place of hope and happiness, because we will
meet God, the Reason of our hope and Source of our joy.
Francis went on to say that, as the year 2013 comes to an end, we
collect, as in a basket, the days, the weeks, the months that we have
lived, to offer everything to the Lord.
Pope Francis concluded,
inviting everyone to look toward the new year, in a spirit of gratitude
for that, which we have received, repentance for that, in which we have
failed, and resolve to work with God’s grace to better our lives, our
communities and ourselves.