Before praying his weekly Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI chided the increased commercialism surrounding Christmas, and stressed the importance of Nativity scenes in family homes.
He began his address before the prayer by criticizing "today's consumer society” saying that because of it, the Christmas season “suffers from the 'contamination' of commercialism that risks changing its true spirit, characterized by reflection, sobriety and a joy that does not come from outside, but from within.”
He said that “It is, therefore, providential that the entrance door to Christmas" should be "the feast of the mother of Jesus who brings us to know, love and adore the Son of God, made man.”
He challenged listeners to allow Mary “to accompany us ... with sincerity of heart and openness of spirit to recognize in the Child of Bethlehem the Son of God, Who came to earth for our redemption."
The Pope recalled that "Immediately after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, many families begin to prepare their nativity scenes, as if to relive, together with Mary, those days filled with trepidation which preceded the birth of Jesus.”
He stressed the importance of the family Nativity scene, saying that bringing one into the home “can be a simple but efficacious way to present and transmit the faith to children.”
“A nativity scene”, he pointed out, “can help us understand the true secret of Christmas, because it speaks of the humility and the merciful goodness of Christ, Who 'though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor'."
Following Vatican tradition, the Pope concluded by blessing figures of the Child Jesus brought by Roman children, which will be used in their own nativity scenes.
"With this gesture”, he said, “I invoke the help of the Lord so that all Christian families may prepare to celebrate with faith the forthcoming Christmas celebrations."