Pope's New Year message centered on solidarity and compassion for others
While many people were off, celebrating the New Year at home with their families, Pope Francis was hard at work. He ushered in the New Year with several ceremonies at the Vatican.
The celebrations kicked off on the last day of 2013 with the Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. In addition to giving thanks, the Pope asked Catholics to reflect what they had done for others in the past year.
"How did we spend the time God gave us? Did we use it, above all, for ourselves, for our self interests, or did we know to spend it also for others? How much time did we set aside to be with God, in prayer, in silence and in adoration?â?
Pope Francis then visited the Nativity scene on display at St. Peter's Square. The Swiss Guard band played hymns as the Pope greeted some of the thousands of people gathered at the Square.
Just a few hours later, in 2014, he re-emerged at the Basilica to lead the Mass of the Solemnity of the Mother of God. In his homily, he asked Catholics to entrust their "journey of faithâ? in the new year to Our Lady, the mother for all.
"The 'woman' became our Mother when she lost her divine Son. Her sorrowing heart was enlarged to make room for all men and women, whether good or bad, and she loves them as she loved Jesus.â?
New Year's Day continued with the Angelus. Pope Francis greeted the thousands of pilgrims that filled St. Peter's Square.
"Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and Happy New Year!â?
The Pope referred to his message for the World Day for Peace. He said the best way to avoid violence and conflict is to build fraternity between all men and women.
He mentioned a letter he received from a man describing a personal tragedy. In it, the writer asked the Pope what happened to the hearts of humans, to lead them to war and conflict.
"The man wrote near the end, it's time to stop. I also think it's better for everyone to end this path of violence, and search for peace. Brothers and sisters, I take up this man's words: What happens to the hearts of men and women? What happens to the heart of mankind? It is time to stop.â?
Pope Francis ended his New Year's Day with a private visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where he prayed before Rome's patroness. That was his seventh visit to the Basilica in his 10-month papacy.