.- On the evening of Dec. 2, Pope Benedict XVI enjoyed a traditional Bavarian Advent without leaving Rome courtesy of a German television company that hosted a Christmas special from the Vatican.
âI thank Bavaria Broadcasting,â he told participants, âyou have all brought a little bit of the customs and sense of typical Bavarian life into the home of the Pope. I can only tell you from my heart, âMay the Lord make you blessedâ for this gift.â
As the Pope entered the Clementine Hall of the Vaticanâs Apostolic Palace, an ensemble of traditional Bavaria musicians greeted him with a performance of an âAlpine Christmas Oratorio,â under the direction of the Bavarian composer Hans Berger.
The Pope, along with his invited guests, then sat down to view Bavaria Broadcastingâs new film âFrom Heaven to Earth: Advent and Christmas in the Bavarian Alps,â which was projected onto a large screen erected in the hall. The film chronicles how families, towns and parishes in Pope Benedictâs native land of Bavaria traditionally celebrate both Advent and Christmas.
Pope Benedict responded to the festive occasion by saying he hoped âour Italian friendsâ had âfun with this enculturation of the faith in our land.â
â(E)specially you, Your Eminence,â he said, turning affectionately towards his Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was celebrating his 77th birthday.
The Pope then explained what Advent means to the predominantly Catholic people of Bavaria.
âWith us, as has been seen, Advent is called âsilent timeâ â âstaade zeit,ââ he explained. This is a time when ânature takes a break, and the earth is covered by snow; you cannot work outside in the rural world; all are necessarily at home.â
This silence of the home, though, becomes âfor the faith, awaiting the Lord, the joy of his presence,â and so âwe have all these melodies, all these traditions that make it a little â as has been said today â heaven present on earth.â
The Pope recognized that today Advent âis often precisely the oppositeâ and has become a time of âunbridled activities, buying, selling, preparations for Christmas, the big lunches, and so on.â However, the popular traditions of the faith âhave not disappearedâ but have been ârenovated, deepened, updatedâ for a new era.
These traditions help to create âislands for the soul, islands of silence, islands of faith, islands for the Lord, in our time.â
Before he imparted his blessing, the Pope thanked all those in families and parishes throughout the world who make present âthe reality of faith in our homes, in our time.â He hoped that such traditions will increasingly help more people to live Advent as God wishes, âtowards the Lord.â