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Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, 2004

New Year 2004 - 37th World Day of Peace
Theme: An ever timely commitment: teaching peace

Pope Saint John Paul II's Homily
at the Te Deum & 1st Vespers of the Solemnity
31 December 2003 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Te Deum laudamus! Thus does the Church sing her gratitude to God, while she is still rejoicing at the Lord's Birth. At this evocative evening celebration our attention is attracted by the ideal convergence of the solar year with the liturgical year, two temporal cycles that underlie two dimensions of time.

In the first dimension, the days, months and years succeed one another in a cosmic rhythm in which the human mind recognizes the imprint of the divine creative Wisdom. This is why the Church exclaims: Te Deum laudamus!

2. The other dimension of time that this evening's celebration recalls is that of the history of salvation. At its centre and summit is the mystery of Christ. The Apostle Paul has just reminded us of it: "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son" (Gal 4: 4). Christ is the centre of history and of the cosmos; he is the new Sun that dawned upon the world from "on high" (Lk 1: 78), a Sun that directs all things to the ultimate goal of history.

In these days between Christmas and New Year's Day, these two dimensions of time intersect with special eloquence. It is as though the eternity of God had come to visit human time. The Eternal thus becomes a present "instant" so that the cyclical repetition of days and years does not end in a senseless void.

3. Te Deum laudamus! Yes, we praise you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth. We thank you, for you sent your Son as a tiny Child to give fullness to time according to your gracious will (cf. Mt 11: 25-26). In him, your Only-Begotten Son, you gave humanity access to eternal salvation.
We raise our solemn thanksgiving to you for the countless benefits you have bestowed upon us during the year. We praise you and thank you with Mary, "who gave to the world the author of life" (Antif. lit.).

4. Dear faithful of the Diocese of Rome, it is right that my words should now be more specifically addressed to you! You are here together with the Pope to offer praise and thanksgiving to God, Giver of all good things.

My cordial greeting goes to each one of you, and especially to the Cardinal Vicar, to Mons. Vicegerent, to the Auxiliary Bishops and to all who work actively at the service of the diocesan community. I greet the Italian Authorities and the Mayor of Rome, whom I thank for his appreciated presence.

We have with us here this evening the icon of Our Lady of Divine Love, a precious gift to the Pope from the community of Rome. I am deeply grateful to you for it. Twenty gems are set into the crown of the Virgin, which correspond to the 20 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, after I asked that the five Mysteries of Light be added to the 15 traditional Mysteries. I would like this icon to be venerated in the new Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love. In particular, I entrust to the Virgin the pastoral commitment that in recent years the Diocese has devoted to the family, youth and vocations of special consecration.

I repeat to you all what I wrote in 1981 in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio: "The future of humanity passes by way of the family!" (n. 86). To the Mother of God and to her spouse, St Joseph, I entrust my prayer to Jesus, so that it may inspire pastoral approaches in the Diocese of Rome that are fitting for our times, addressed to all the families of the City and to the young couples who are preparing for marriage. May the family correspond ever more fully to the project that God has always had for it!

5. Dear Brothers and Sisters, another year is rapidly drawing to a close. We are already looking to 2004, which is silhouetted on the horizon. Let us invoke on the year that is ending and on the one that will begin in a few hours the motherly protection of Mary Most Holy, asking her to continue to guide us on our way.

Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, obtain days of peace for the city of Rome, for Italy, for Europe and for the whole world. Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora pro nobis! Mother of the Redeemer, Our Lady of Divine Love, pray for us. Amen!"

Papa Juan Pablo II's Homily at Mass on the Feast of Mary, Mother of God
St Peter's Basilica, 1 January 2004 - in English, French, GermanItalian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman" (Gal 4: 4).

Today, the liturgy of the Octave of Christmas presents to us the icon of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary. The Apostle Paul points her out as the "woman" through whom the Son of God entered the world. Mary of Nazareth is the Theotokos, the One who "gave birth to the King of Heaven and earth for ever" (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Sedulius).

At the beginning of this new year, let us place ourselves with docility at the school of Mary. We want to learn from her, the Holy Mother, how to accept in faith and prayer the salvation that God never ceases to offer to all who trust in his merciful love.

2. In this atmosphere of listening and prayer, let us give thanks to God for this New Year: may it be a year of prosperity and peace for everyone!

With these wishes, I am pleased to address a respectful thought to the distinguished Ambassadors of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See who are present at today's celebration. I cordially greet Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, and my collaborators in the Secretariat of State. With them, I greet Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and all the members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. I am grateful to them for their concerted effort to extend everywhere the invitation to peace that the Church constantly proclaims.

3. "An ever timely commitment: teaching peace": this is the theme of the Message for today's World Day of Peace. It is ideally linked to what I proposed at the beginning of my Pontificate when I reasserted the urgent need to form consciences to the culture of peace. For peace to be possible, I wished to repeat, it is also a duty (cf. Message, n. 4).

Challenged by situations of injustice and violence that threaten various parts of the globe and the never-ending wars, often ignored by public opinion, it is becoming more and more necessary to build roads to peace together; consequently, educating for peace becomes indispensable.

For Christians, in fact, "to proclaim peace is to announce Christ who is "our peace' (Eph 2: 14); it is to announce his Gospel, which is a "Gospel of peace' (Eph 6: 15); it is to call all people to the beatitude of being "peacemakers' (cf. Mt 5: 9)" (Message, n. 3). Archbishop Michael Aidan Courtney, my representative as Apostolic Nuncio in Burundi who was tragically killed a few days ago as he carried out his mission encouraging dialogue and reconciliation, was also a witness to the "Gospel of peace". Let us pray for him and hope that his example and his sacrifice will bear fruits of peace in Burundi and throughout the world.

4. Every year in this Christmas season we return in spirit to Bethlehem to adore the Child lying in the manger. Unfortunately, in the land in which Jesus was born tragic conditions endure. In other parts of the world, hotbeds of violence and conflict are also still smouldering. However, we must persevere without giving in to the temptation to despair. All are asked to make an effort to see that the fundamental rights of the person are respected, by constantly teaching respect for the law. With this in mind, it is necessary to strive to transcend "the logic of simple justice and to be open also to the logic of forgiveness". Indeed, "there is no peace without forgiveness!" (cf. Message, n. 10).

People are becoming more and more aware of the need for a new international order that will make the most of the experience of the United Nations Organization and the results it has achieved in recent years: an order that can provide satisfactory solutions to the problems of our day, founded on the dignity of the human person, on an integral development of society, on solidarity between the rich and poor countries and on sharing resources and the extraordinary results of scientific and technological progress.

5. "Love is... the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings" (ibid.). The awareness of this guided me in drafting the Message for today's World Day of Peace. May God help us build together the "civilization of love". Only a humanity in which love is triumphant will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace.

May Mary obtain this gift for us. May she sustain us and accompany us in the arduous but exalting process of building peace. Let us never tire of praying confidently for this: Mary Queen of Peace, pray for us!" (Mt 5: 9).

Happy New Year to everyone! Praised be Jesus Christ!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II at the Angelus on 37th World Day of Peace
St Peter's Square, New Year's Day 2004 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today, on the first day of the New Year, the liturgy rings out with the ancient biblical blessing in which the name of the Lord is invoked upon the people. "The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Nm 6: 26). I wholeheartedly extend this best wish to the whole world, invoking God's blessing upon the human family. May the Lord make his face shine upon every man and woman, and grant peace to all peoples.

2. Peace is first and foremost a gift of God but it is also a project to whose realization each one must make a personal contribution. This is what I wanted to recall in my Message for today's World Day of Peace. Its theme is: "An ever timely commitment: teaching peace".

This Day fits into the context of the solemn celebration of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. In her, we contemplate the Mother of the "Prince of Peace" (Is 9: 6), of the One who is "our peace" (Eph 2: 14).

3. May Our Lady help us to be witnesses and builders of this peace, the heavenly gift and daily achievement of people who have the common good at heart.

I offer you who are present here and all those who have joined us by means of radio or television my most cordial best wishes for prosperity and peace at the beginning of this new year. Happy New Year to everyone!"

After the Angelus:

"Con profonda gratitudine ricambio gli auguri che mi ha rivolto ieri sera il Signor Presidente della Repubblica Italiana. Assicuro la mia preghiera per il suo alto servizio e invoco su di lui e sull’amato popolo italiano pace e prosperità.

Aux pèlerins de langue française, je souhaite une heureuse et sainte année, dans la lumière du Christ !

With warm greetings at the beginning of this New Year I invoke upon the English-speaking pilgrims God’s blessings of joy and peace.

Von Herzen grüße ich alle Brüder und Schwestern deutscher Sprache. Der Herr schenke euch in neuen Jahr seine Gnade und seinen Frieden.

Saludo a las personas de lengua española. Que el nuevo año sea un paso adelante hacia la paz entre los pueblos. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Que Maria Santíssima, Mãe de Deus e de misericórdia, anime a todos a viver em paz e concórdia. Feliz Ano Novo!

Moim rodakom życzę, aby nowy rok przyniósł wszystkim dni pełne pokoju, pomyślności i Bożego błogosławieństwa. Szczęść Boże!

Saluto i partecipanti alla marcia promossa dalla Comunità di Sant’Egidio, che ha come tema "Pace in tutte le terre". Saluto poi i giovani dell’Opera Don Orione, come pure le famiglie del Movimento dell’Amore Familiare, che in questa notte di Capodanno hanno vegliato pregando per la pace."


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