Below the videos are the homilies of Pope Francis for each Liturgy.
First Solemn Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God with Exposition and Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Te Deum (please note that Vatican Radio needs a better editor in titling Vespers! It isn't the Te Deum Mass! tut-tut!):
This morning's Mass is primarily in Latin and the Holy Father uses the Roman Canon:
And this is a summary of the Papal Solemn Sung Vespers homily from the Vatican Insider:
Francis, at the Te Deum, talks about the scandals in Rome: if society forces the poor to become criminals, it is in extreme poverty; ‘we need to serve the weak, not take advantage of them’. He also quotes BenigniDomenico Agasso jr Rome
‘The poor and the marginalised need to be at the centre of our preoccupations and our daily actions. We need to serve the weak, not take advantage of them’. Francis said this in his homily in the Vatican Basilica during the celebration of the Vespers and the Te Deum, the thanksgiving hymn for the past year. He spoke of Rome and the recent scandals that involved the city. ‘The serious episodes of corruption that recently came to light require a serious and aware conversion and a renewed commitment to building a fairer and more supportive city’, said the Pope in his last public appearance of 2014.
The Pope started by saying that ‘the Word of God explains to us, today especially, the meaning of time, to understand that time is not a reality estranged from God simply because He chose to reveal Himself and save us in history. The meaning of time, temporality, is the atmosphere of the epiphany of God, that is the manifestation of God and His concrete love. Time is the messenger of God, as St. Peter Favre said’.
He went on: ‘today’s liturgy reminds us of this statement by the apostle John: “My children, the hour has come”, and St. Paul speaking of the “fullness of time”. Therefore, today it shows us how time, which has been “touched” by Christ and by God, received new and surprising meanings. It has become “saving time”, definitive time of saving and grace’.
All this ‘leads us to think of the end of life. There was a beginning and there will be an end. With this truth, which is as simple and fundamental as it is neglected and forgotten, the Holy Mother Church teaches us to end the year and our days with an examination of conscience. Through this, we go back to past events; we thank God for every gift we have received and for all the good we could do and, at the same time, we think of our faults and our sins. To say thanks and to ask for forgiveness’. This is Francis’ invitation. He remembered that, ‘this is what we do, even today, at the end of the year. Let us praise the Lord with the Te Deum hymn, and at the same time, let us ask for forgiveness. The attitude of thanksgiving prepares us for humility, to recognise and welcome the gifts of the Lord’.
The Pope reminds us that ‘the apostle Paul epitomises, in the reading of today’s Vespers, the fundamental reason for our thanksgiving to God. He has made us their children; He adopted us as children. This undeserved gift fills us with gratitude and wonder! Some might say, “but are we not their children, simply through our being human?” Certainly, because God is Father of every person who is born. But without forgetting that we are far from Him through original sin, that separated us from our Father: our filial relationship is deeply hurt’.
That is why God sent ‘his Son to redeem us at the cost of His blood. If there is redemption, that is because there is slavery. We used to be sons and daughters but we became slaves by following the voice of the Evil One. No one else redeems us from that substantial slavery if not Jesus, who became man through the Virgin Mary and died on the cross to free us from the slavery of sin and return us to our lost filial condition’.
Francis added that ‘at the same time, the very gift we thank for is the reason for our examination of conscience, to review our personal and community life, and to ask; what is our way of life like? Do we live as children or as slaves? Do we live as people baptised in Christ, anointed by the Spirit, redeemed, free? Or do we live according to worldly, corrupted logic, doing what the devil makes us believe is in our best interest?’.
The Pope highlighted that ‘there always is, in our walk of life, a tendency to resist liberation; we fear freedom and, paradoxically, we unconsciously prefer slavery. Freedom scares us because it forces us to face time and our responsibility to use it well. Slavery reduces time to the moment, making us feel safer. It makes us live moments disjointed from their past and our future’. He added that ‘in other words, slavery prevents us from living fully and truthfully our present, because it makes it devoid of past and shuts it off from the future and eternity. Slavery makes us believe that we cannot dream, fly and hope’.
Francis then quoted Roberto Benigni, without calling him by name, and his show about the Ten Commandments. ‘A few days ago a great Italian artist said that it was easier for the Lord to take Israelites out of Egypt than take Egypt out of the hearts of Israelites. They had been materially freed from slavery, but during the march in the desert, facing various difficulties and hunger, they began to miss Egypt, where they “ate… onions and garlic”; they, however, forgot that they ate at the table of slavery, because it seemed safer, safer than freedom, which is riskier. How we like being enslaved by so many fireworks that look beautiful but only last a moment! This is the rule of the moment!’
Therefore, ‘the quality of our work, our life and our presence in the city depends on this examination of conscience. Also our service for the common good, our participation to public and ecclesiastical institutions’.
Because of this, being the bishop of Rome, Francis wanted to stress that, ‘our life in Rome is a great gift, because it means we live in the eternal city. Therefore, let us thank the Lord for that. But at the same time it is also a great responsibility. So let us ask ourselves: in this city, in this ecclesiastical community, are we freemen or slaves? Are we the salt or the light? Are we the yeast? Or are we listless, dull, hostile, discouraged, irrelevant, and tired?’
Then, the Pope warned that ‘without a doubt the serious episodes of corruption, which recently came to light, require a serious and aware conversion of the hearts for moral and spiritual rebirth. They also require a renewed commitment to building a fairer and more supportive city, where the poor, the weak and the marginalised are at the centre of our preoccupations and our daily actions. A great attitude of Christian freedom is necessary to defend the poor and not defend ourselves against the poor, as well as to serve the weak and not take advantage of them’.
The Pope suggested that ‘when they asked St. Lawrence to bring and show the treasures of the Church, he simply brought some poor people. When, in a city, the poor and the weak are cared for, rescued and helped to support themselves in society, they become the treasure of the Church and a treasure in society. Instead, when a society ignores the poor, persecutes them, criminalises them and forces them to become criminals; that society reaches extreme poverty, it loses freedom and prefers ‘the garlic and the onions’ of slavery, the slavery of its own selfishness, the slavery of its own cowardice, and it ceases to be a Christian society’.
This is the homily of Pope Francis for this morning's Mass:
Today we are reminded of the words of blessing which Elizabeth spoke to the Virgin Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?” (Lk 1:42-43).
This blessing is in continuity with the priestly blessing which God had given to Moses to be passed on to Aaron and to all the people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26). In celebrating the Solemnity of Mary the Most Holy Mother of God, the Church reminds us that Mary, more than anyone else, received this blessing. In her the blessing finds fulfilment, for no other creature has ever seen God’s face shine upon it as did Mary. She gave a human face to the eternal Word, so that all of us can contemplate him.
In addition to contemplating God’s face, we can also praise him and glorify him, like the shepherds who came away from Bethlehem with a song of thanksgiving after seeing the Child and his young mother (cf. Lk 2:16). The two were together, just as they were together at Calvary, because Christ and his mother are inseparable: there is a very close relationship between them, as there is between every child and his or her mother. The flesh (caro) of Christ – which, as Tertullian says, is the hinge (cardo) of our salvation – was knit together in the womb of Mary (cf. Ps 139:13). This inseparability is also clear from the fact that Mary, chosen beforehand to be the Mother of the Redeemer, shared intimately in his entire mission, remaining at her Son’s side to the end on Calvary.
Mary is so closely united to Jesus because she received from him the knowledge of the heart, the knowledge of faith, nourished by her experience as a mother and by her close relationship with her Son. The Blessed Virgin is the woman of faith who made room for God in her heart and in her plans; she is the believer capable of perceiving in the gift of her Son the coming of that “fullness of time”(Gal 4:4) in which God, by choosing the humble path of human existence, entered personally into the history of salvation. That is why Jesus cannot be understood without his Mother.
Likewise inseparable are Christ and the Church; the salvation accomplished by Jesus cannot be understood without appreciating the motherhood of the Church. To separate Jesus from the Church would introduce an “absurd dichotomy”, as Blessed Paul VI wrote (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 16). It is not possible “to love Christ but without the Church, to listen to Christ but not the Church, to belong to Christ but outside the Church” (ibid.). For the Church is herself God’s great family, which brings Christ to us. Our faith is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God who became man, was put to death, rose from the dead to save us, and is now living in our midst. Where can we encounter him? We encounter him in the Church. It is the Church which says today: “Behold the Lamb of God”; it is the Church, which proclaims him; it is in the Church that Jesus continues to accomplish his acts of grace which are the sacraments.
This, the Church’s activity and mission, is an expression of her motherhood. For she is like a mother who tenderly holds Jesus and gives him to everyone with joy and generosity. No manifestation of Christ, even the most mystical, can ever be detached from the flesh and blood of the Church, from the historical concreteness of the Body of Christ. Without the Church, Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the Church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods.
Dear brothers and sisters! Jesus Christ is the blessing for every man and woman, and for all of humanity. The Church, in giving us Jesus, offers us the fullness of the Lord’s blessing. This is precisely the mission of the people of God: to spread to all peoples God’s blessing made flesh in Jesus Christ. And Mary, the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus, the model of the pilgrim Church, is the one who opens the way to the Church’s motherhood and constantly sustains her maternal mission to all mankind. Mary’s tactful maternal witness has accompanied the Church from the beginning. She, the Mother of God, is also the Mother of the Church, and through the Church, the mother of all men and women, and of every people.
May this gentle and loving Mother obtain for us the Lord’s blessing upon the entire human family. On this, the World Day of Peace, we especially implore her intercession that the Lord may grant peace in our day; peace in hearts, peace in families, peace among the nations. The message for the Day of Peace this year is “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters”. All of us are called to be free, all are called to be sons and daughters, and each, according to his or her own responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement. From every people, culture and religion, let us join our forces. May he guide and sustain us, who, in order to make us all brothers and sisters, became our servant.