Pope Benedict’s childhood letter to the Infant Jesus

From Catholic News Agency:

A letter written to the Infant Jesus by Pope Benedict XVI when he was a boy was recently on display during Advent in the village of Marktl Am Inn in Bavaria, where the Holy Father was born.

The letter reads:

Dear Baby Jesus, quickly come down to earth.  You will bring joy to children.  Also bring me joy.

I would like a Volks-Schott (a Mass prayers book), green clothing for Mass (clerical clothing) and a heart of Jesus.  I will always be good.

Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger.

Pope BXVI as a boyPope Benedict XVI as a boy

The letter was recently found during a renovation of a house occupied by Joseph Ratzinger when he was a professor in Regensburg.  According to the Pope’s former secretary, now-Archbishop George Gaenswein, “the Pope was very glad to find the letter and its contents made them smile.

Why not ask God the Father to bless our Holy Father (and all of us) with a heart of Jesus today and always?

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The Pope’s Advent message to you!

pope_benedict_xvi_christmas

Much like his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, our Holy Father has a special affection for you, the young of the Church.  As an intellectual and former professor, he also has a special fondness for you as a student!

Consider his homily at Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent, where the audience was primarily students from the universities of Rome.  This is just a tidbit!

The liturgical year that we are beginning with these Vespers also represents for you the journey to live once again the faithfulness of God, on which you are called to found your lives, as on a firm rock.  In celebrating and living this itinerary of faith with the whole Church, you will experience that Jesus Christ is the one Lord of the cosmos and of history, without whom every human project risks coming to nothing.  The liturgy, lived in its true spirit, is always the fundamental school for living the Christian faith, a “theological” faith which involves you in your whole being – spirit, soul, and body – to make you living stones in the edifice of the Church and collaborators of the New Evangelization.  Especially in the Eucharist the living God makes himself so close that he becomes food that supports us on the journey, a presence that transforms us with the fire of his love.

Dear friends, we are living in a context in which we often come across indifference to God.  However, I think that in the inner depths of those who live far from God – also among your peers – there is an inner longing for the infinite, for transcendence.  It is your task to witness in the university halls to the close God who also shows himself in the search for the truth, the soul of all intellectual commitment.

If you have a chance, read the rest of the homily, as it is excellent food for thought, and especially for prayer, as Advent reaches its end next week and we begin the Christmas season.

What’s that Santa-looking hat on the Pope’s head, you may ask?  It is called a camauro, a red velvet hat trimmed with ermine, and it has been a part of the papal wardrobe for centuries.  Pope Benedict wore the camauro in December 2005, the first time a pope had donned the hat since John XXIII’s reign almost 50 years earlier.

Happy O Antiphons Week!

Today, December 17th, we enter what the Church calls the Octave (eight days) before Christmas.  Our Lord’s arrival at Christmas draws ever near!

In this special time of preparation before Christmas, there are some special liturgical happenings that only occur in this week before we celebrate the birth of Our Lord.  For example, starting today, the Evening Prayer of the Church, often called Vespers, contains seven beautiful Antiphons that are prayed before reciting the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is a part of evening prayer.

Let’s back up a bit . . . what is Vespers?  Vespers, or Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, is a series of psalms and readings from Scripture that are prayed by priests, religious brothers and sisters, and even laypeople throughout the world every evening.

So, basically, these antiphons (often referred to as the “O Antiphons”, because they all begin with “O”) are short sentences (prayers, really) that are recited or sometimes sung before and after praying the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Each of the Antiphons calls to mind a title given to the Messiah in the Old Testament.  These small, short prayers are a beautiful way to pray particularly for our Lord’s coming.

The O Antiphons are as follows:

  • December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O With us is God)

Below are the antiphons in their entirety in English, along with the verses from Scripture that they reference.  Consider using these beautiful, small prayers as a way to prepare in a special way for our Lord’s coming in this last week of Advent!

December 17 – O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.  Come and show your people the way to salvation (Isaiah 11:2).

December 18 – O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free (Isaiah 11:4, 33:22).

December 19 – O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.  Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid (Isaiah 11:1, 11:10).

December 20 – O Key of David, O royal power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven: come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom (Isaiah 22:22).

December 21 – O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:20).

December 22 – O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust (Isaiah 2:4, 9:7).

December 23 – O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God (Isaiah 7:14).

Some final notes:

If you take the first letter of the Latin titles of the Messiah (Sapientia, Adonai, Radix Jesse, Clavis David, Oriens, Rex Gentium, Emmanuel), and spell them out in reverse order, the Latin words ERO CRAS are formed.

What do you suppose ERO CRAS means?

  • “Tomorrow, I will come.” 

Also, the next time you sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”, pay particular attention to the verses.  They are a version of the O Antiphons!

For more information on the O Antiphons:

May this final week before Christmas be for you a time of great anticipation and joy!