On the last day of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI led first vespers at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica. In addition to singing the Te Deum hymn, he exhorted young people to have the courage to pursue their vocation.
The Te Deum is sung in thanksgiving to the Lord in the Catholic churches of the world on December 31 of each year. In his remarks, the Holy Father noted that this is a time to "put the various events of our lives – major and minor…under the sign of salvation and accept the call God makes to guide us toward a goal beyond time itself: eternity."
"We are called to say with our voices, hearts and lives our ‘thanks’ to God for the gift of his son, …for family, for community, the church and the world," he continued.
Pope Benedict gave special thanks for those who live and work within the Diocese of Rome, of which he is bishop. He praised efforts within the city to follow in the footsteps of Christ and encouraged further participation of the faithful "to be able to offer a valid contribution to the edification of the Church."
In the message, Benedict XVI put special emphasis on the importance of reaching youth with God’s Word. "Rome needs priests that are courageous announcers of the Gospel and, at the same time, reveal the merciful face of the Father."
The Pontiff invited young people "to not be afraid to respond to the complete gift of their own existence to the call that the Lord makes to them to pursue the way of priesthood or the consecrated life."
The Holy Father also recommended a return to the "lectio divina," the reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer, because "the Word, believed, announced and lived pushes us to solidarity and sharing."
Pope Benedict XVI concluded his message by expressing his wish that the 25th anniversary of World Youth Day, to be celebrated on March 25, 2010, be a day of "reflection and invocation to obtain from the Lord the gift of numerous vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life."