Yesterday evening, Pope Benedict presided at Vespers on the vigil of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, the last liturgy of 2008. The yearly vespers service, in St. Peter's Basilica, offers thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year. In addition, the Holy Father presided at the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a Eucharistic Benediction and a Te Deum.
Papa Ratzinger Forum has an English translation of his homily and a collection of photographs. Asia News has an article. The Holy Father said that the year that is ending, and the coming year, are under "the consecrating gaze of the Most Holy Mother of God." He expressed praise and thanksgiving to God for the gift of time, "a precious opportunity to do good; but we must also add a request for forgiveness for perhaps not always putting it to good use." He also spoke of the growing global social and economic crisis, and of the need for "moderation and solidarity" in order to help those people in the worst difficulties. He also said, "Even if not a few shadows are looming on the horizon of our future, we should not be afraid. Our great hope as believers is eternal life in communion with Christ and the entire family of God."