VATICAN CITY, DEC 31, 2003 (VIS) - Today at 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, John Paul II presided at first vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and the "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the end of the year.
In the homily, the Pope invited everyone to give thanks to God for the "countless blessings that He has bestowed on us throughout the year."
Addressing in particular the faithful of the diocese of Rome, the Holy Father said: "The icon of Our Lady of Divine Love, a precious gift from the community or Rome to the Pope, is here with us today. I am very grateful to you for it. In Our Lady's crown there are embedded jewels which correspond to the twenty mysteries of the Holy Rosary, as I asked for the five luminous mysteries to be added to the traditional fifteen mysteries. I hope that this icon will be venerated in the new Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love. I especially entrust to Our Lady the pastoral activity that the diocese has carried out throughout the years for the family, young people and for vocations of special consecration."
He then recalled what he wrote in the apostolic exhortation, "Familiaris consortio": "The future of humanity passes by way of the family." The Pope then said, "I entrust my prayer to Jesus through the Mother of God and St. Joseph, her spouse, so that He inspire in the diocese of Rome pastoral activity appropriate for our times, directed to all the families in the city and to young couples that are preparing for marriage. May families always correspond ever more fully to God's plan for them!"
AC/VESPERS:TE DEUM/... VIS 20040102 (290)