Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Church's commitment to proclaiming the Gospel "is that more necessary when faith might be dimmed by cultural situations that hinder its taking roots in people and society" and by "lifestyles based on individualism and ethical relativism."
In this Year of Faith, Benedict XVI devoted the Te Deum to the mission of evangelising with which we give thanks to God because "despite everything, there is goodness in the world, and this goodness is bound to win thanks to God."
The first vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, celebrated this afternoon in Saint Peter's Basilica were an invitation to reflect. They were followed by the traditional thanksgiving hymn that concluded the calendar year.
Sometimes, it is hard to see that goodness exists in this world and that it will win "since evil causes more noise than goodness. A brutal murder, widespread violence or major injustices will make the news. Acts of love and service or the daily chores done with faithfulness and patience will be overshadowed, from the limelight. For this reason, we should not stop at the news if we want to understand the world and life. We must be able to wait in silence and meditation as well as calm and lasting reflection. We must be able to stop to think. This way, our minds can be healed from the injuries of daily life and go deeper into the facts of our life and the world to reach the wisdom that allows as the evaluate matters with fresh eyes. When we collect our conscience, in which God speaks to us, we learn how to look truthfully to our actions and the evil that is in and around us and start a journey of conversion to make us wiser and better, capable of solidarity and communion, to defeat evil with goodness. Christians are men and women of hope, also and especially against the darkness that often exists in the world, which does not depend on God's plans but on mankind's wrong choices for they know that the strength of faith can move mountains."
"The Year of Faith, which the Church is living, is designed to raise awareness in the heart of each believer that Christ is the source of true life and strong hope. Faith in Jesus allows us to renewal goodness constantly; it provides us with the capacity of getting out of the quick sands of sin and start anew."
For this reason, the pope repeatedly stressed the need to proclaim the Gospel to the world and "his" city, Rome. "One the one hand," we have "a growing number of believers from other religions, parish communities that are hard-pressed to reach out to youth, and certain lifestyles based on individualism and ethical relativism that are growing. On the other," the fact that "so many people seek meaning for their own existence and hope that does not disappoint cannot leave us indifferent."
Pastoral work thus has "a missionary dimension" whose aim is to make Christians "coherent disciples and witnesses of Jesus Christ".
"Christian parents are especially called to a life that is coherent with this task since they are their children's first educators." Hence, they cannot be left alone, but must be helped. Training is "a precious way" for this, Benedict XVI said.
"On the last night of the year that is ending, on the eve of the new one that is coming, let us praise the Lord!" said the pope in concluding. "Let us show to 'the one who is and who was and who is to come' (Rev, 1:8) repentance and ask for forgiveness for our sins. Let us give our sincere thanks for the countless benefits provided by his Divine Kindness. In particular, let us thank him for the grace and truth that came to us with Jesus Christ. The future of every man lies in Him. The hopes of the Church and the world shall be fulfilled by Him."