A society without mothers is not only one which would be cold, but a society which has lost its heart …
Pope Francis stressed this as he closed out 2016 and ushered in 2017 in the Vatican. On Saturday, the Holy Father presided over First Vespers on New Years Eve with the recitation of the solemn Te Deum. On Sunday, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass of 2017 in St. Peter’s Basilica. He then gave his traditional address before leading the faithful in the Angelus.
Rise up and start anew
During his homily at First Vespers, his last public event of the year, the Holy Father reminded those present to contemplate the Manger and Mary.
“Looking at the Manger,” he stressed, “means seeing how God gets involved by involving us, making us part of his work, inviting us to welcome the future courageously and decisively.”
Before the little Child of Bethlehem, Francis urged, we should acknowledge that we need the Lord to enlighten us, “because all too often we end up being narrow-minded or prisoners of all-or-nothing attitude that would force others to conform to our own ideas.”
This light, he said, is needed because it helps us “learn from our mistakes and failed attempts in order to improve and surpass ourselves. This light, Francis continued, gives us the strength to rise up and start anew.
Before concluding his reflections on the year soon to close, Francis called for Mary’s intercession, and underscored, that as we come to the end of this year, we do well to contemplate the God-Child.
“Doing so,” he said, “invites us to return to the sources and roots of our faith. In Jesus, faith becomes hope; it becomes a leaven and a blessing.”
Society Without Mothers Would Be One Which Has Lost Its Heart
The next morning, Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass of 2016 in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, Francis spoke on Mary, Mother of God, and stressed that where there is a mother, there is tenderness.
To celebrate Mary as Mother of God and our mother at the beginning of the new year, the Holy Father highlighted, means recalling a certainty that will accompany our days: “we are a people with a Mother; we are not orphans.”
“Mothers,” he said, “are the strongest antidote to our individualistic and egotistic tendencies, to our lack of openness and our indifference. A society without mothers would not only be a cold society, but a society that has lost its heart, lost the ‘feel of home.’”
Reminding those present that they have a Mother and that we are to confess this truth, Francis invited those in the Basilica to stand up and say ‘Holy Mother of God” three times, “like the faithful of Ephesus.”
Prayers, Tackling Scourge of Terrorism
At noon the same day, which also marked the World Day of Peace, the Pope, while speaking to the pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square after the Mass, condemned the terror attack last night in Turkey.
Last night at 1:30 a.m, at the popular Reina nightclub in Istanbul, during New Year’s Eve celebrations, a gunman opened fire, claiming at least 39 lives and wounding many others.
“Unfortunately, violence has also hit this night of good wishes and hope, with a major attack in Istanbul,” Francis lamented, saying, “I am close with prayer to the deceased and their families, the injured and the entire Turkish people. I pray for the many victims and injured and for the whole nation in mourning.”
“I ask the Lord,” he continued, “to sustain all people of goodwill who roll up their sleeves to boldly tackle the plague of terrorism and the stains of blood that envelop the world with a shadow of fear and bewilderment.”
Warm Wishes of Maternal Protection
Before concluding, Pope Francis wished everyone a year of peace in God’s grace and the maternal protection of Mary, Mother of God. As usual, Francis wished those present a good feast day and lunch and reminded those present to pray for him.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
First Vespers: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-homily-for-first-vespers-2016/
Homily at St. Peters: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-new-years-day-homily-in-st-peters-basilica/