Pope Francis says the key to a successful 2016 is: Keep your eyes on Mary and follow her example.
The Holy Father stressed how doing this can change our lives and open our hearts throughout his various encounters with the faithful as he closed out 2015 and ushered in 2016 in the Vatican. On Thursday, the Holy Father presided over First Vespers on New Years Eve with the recitation of the solemn Te Deum. On Friday, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass of 2016 in St. Peter’s Basilica. He then gave his traditional address before leading the faithful in the Angelus, and in the evening at Santa Maria Maggiore, he opened the Marian Basilica’s Holy Door.
Good always conquers
During his homily at First Vespers, his last public event of the year, the Holy Father reminded those to follow the Virgin Mary's example of doing good, even if it goes under the radar.
“How many gestures of kindness, of love and solidarity have filled the days of this year, even if they did not make television news,” he said, observing, “Good things do not make news. These signs of love cannot and must not be obscured by the arrogance of evil.”
Before concluding his reflections on the year soon to close, Francis called for Mary's intercession, and underscored, “Good always conquers, even if at some moments it might seem weaker and hidden.”
Mary Makes Us Understand Our Everyday
The next morning, Pope Francis celebrated his first Mass of 2016 in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, Francis stressed that the Church, at the beginning of a new year, “invites us to contemplate Mary’s divine maternity as an icon of peace.”
“In this day,” he said, “Mary makes it possible for us to grasp the meaning of events which affect us personally, events which also affect our families, our countries and the entire world.”
Let's Open Our Hearts
At noon the same day, which also marked the World Day of Peace, the Pope launched an appeal to the world, while speaking to the pilgrims and visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square after the Mass. “Today we celebrate the World Day of Peace, whose theme is: ‘Overcome Indifference and Win Peace,’” he recalled, stressing we must make this peace come to be in the world, through our efforts.
“We have, thank God,” the Pontiff observed, “much information; but sometimes we are so inundated with news that we are distracted from reality, from the brother and sister who needs us: let us begin to open our hearts, awakening attention to our neighbor.”
“This,” said Pope Francis, “is the way to win peace.”
One Who Truly Loves, Can Forgive, Forget
During the evening liturgy at Santa Maria Maggiore, the Pope stressed in his homily that it is “most fitting” that on the feast day, we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary, above all, as “Mother of Mercy.”
“Mary is the Mother of God who forgives, who bestows forgiveness, and so we can rightly call her 'Mother of Forgiveness.'”
Noting that the word forgiveness is so misunderstood in today’s world, he stressed that the word actually points to the “new and original fruit” of Christian faith.
“A person unable to forgive has not yet known the fullness of love. Only one who truly loves is able to forgive and forget. At the foot of the Cross, Mary sees her Son offer himself totally, showing us what it means to love as God loves,” he said.
Francis opened the Holy Door at the papal basilica, Rome's beloved Marian Basilica, where he regularly stops to pray to Mary, especially before and after papal trips. To inaugurate the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Francis opened the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica, and just days later, he presided at the opening of the Holy Door at Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica.
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Angelus: (ZENIT Translation to be made available shortly)
Homily at Santa Maria Maggiore: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-homily-at-santa-maria-maggiore-on-new-year-s-day-for-opening-of-holy-door