Pope Benedict reflects on Bavarian Advent traditions
By David Kerr
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.- 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.

“I thank Bavaria Broadcasting,” he told participants, “you 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, ‘May the Lord make you blessed’ for this gift.”

As the Pope entered the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, an ensemble of traditional Bavaria musicians greeted him with a performance of an “Alpine Christmas Oratorio,” under the direction of the Bavarian composer Hans Berger.

The Pope, along with his invited guests, then sat down to view Bavaria Broadcasting’s new film “From Heaven to Earth: Advent and Christmas in the Bavarian Alps,” which was projected onto a large screen erected in the hall. The film chronicles how families, towns and parishes in Pope Benedict’s native land of Bavaria traditionally celebrate both Advent and Christmas.

Pope Benedict responded to the festive occasion by saying he hoped “our Italian friends” had “fun with this enculturation of the faith in our land.”

“(E)specially you, Your Eminence,” 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.

“With us, as has been seen, Advent is called ‘silent time’ – ‘staade zeit,’” he explained. This is a time when “nature takes a break, and the earth is covered by snow; you cannot work outside in the rural world; all are necessarily at home.”

This silence of the home, though, becomes “for the faith, awaiting the Lord, the joy of his presence,” and so “we have all these melodies, all these traditions that make it a little – as has been said today – heaven present on earth.”

The Pope recognized that today Advent “is often precisely the opposite” and has become a time of “unbridled activities, buying, selling, preparations for Christmas, the big lunches, and so on.” However, the popular traditions of the faith “have not disappeared” but have been “renovated, deepened, updated” for a new era.

These traditions help to create “islands for the soul, islands of silence, islands of faith, islands for the Lord, in our time.”

Before he imparted his blessing, the Pope thanked all those in families and parishes throughout the world who make present “the reality of faith in our homes, in our time.” He hoped that such traditions will increasingly help more people to live Advent as God wishes, “towards the Lord.”

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