Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Letter from Young Joseph Ratzinger

Just this week, a letter from a seven-year-old Joseph Ratzinger was published. But it's not to just anybody; it's a Christmas letter to Baby Jesus!
Dear Baby Jesus,
Quickly come down to earth. You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy. I would like a Volks-Schott, green clothing for Mass, and a heart of Jesus. I will always be good.
Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger
A Volks-Schott is a Latin-German pew missal. Young Joseph asked for green clothing, as his mother made vestments for him and his brother Georg so that they could play Mass. [My curiosity is piqued; green would have been worn less frequently in the 1930s, since the time after Epiphany and Pentecost was constantly interrupted  by octaves and feast days which would trump the green. And for that matter, when did green become the usual vestment for what is now known as 'Ordinary Time'? ]

 His brother is a priest, and served for thirty years as the choir director at Regensburg Cathedral. Their sister Maria never married, but took care of her brothers, particularly Joseph as he was the youngest, for forty years fulfilling a promise to her parents that she made after their ordinations. She passed away in 1991.

Apparently, the Holy Father always wanted to be a priest. When he was five, the cardinal-archbishop of Munich and Freising visited the parish, and Joseph decided he too would wear a red hat.
"It wasn't so much the car, since we weren't technically minded. It was the way the cardinal looked, his bearing, and the knickerbockers he was wearing that made such an impression on him."-Msgr. Georg Ratzinger 
Also, his cousin said that at 15 he announced he would become a bishop; she teasingly retorted, "And why not Pope?"

Fun fact: The elementary school in Aschau am Inn, where he lived from 1932-1937, is named for him.

I love this photo. I believe this is from when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Apparently he has had a love for teddy bears throughout his entire life. When he was two years old, he saw a teddy bear in shop window and fell in love with it. But it disappeared from the shop window at Christmastime, which drove him to tears. He found it in front of the Nativity set- for in Germany it is the Infant Jesus who brings gifts- and was filled with joy. He must remember this still whenever he sees a teddy bear.
But for all his learning and his sense of mission, the great surprise of Benedict's papacy so far at least to those who didn't personally know him has been a quiet humanity. At the end of a general audience in August, the Pope had set aside time for a long line of the ill and elderly to personally greet him. A girl, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, approached, holding her mother's hand and gripping a teddy bear. Her hair was cut short and her face was puffy from medication. The Pope looked straight in the little girl's eager eyes, and brushed his hand with a blessing across her forehead. And then, without missing a beat, he reached over and blessed the teddy bear in the same way. Among those for whom doctrine is key, Benedict's unshakable convictions will earn him both fans and foes. For those of us less sure of our faith and even those with none at all the new Pope reminds us, simply, that a missionary's work is never done. -- "A Man on a Mission", Jeff Israely, Time - Europe (18 December 2005)
 I also read that when he visited his brother, a bear in a Swiss Guards uniform stood the watch on the doorstep. Well then. It seems our Holy Father is a man of simple comforts. I too would like my teddy bear blessed. Alas, THE DOG CHEWED HIM TO BITS!!!!! GRR. I still have my FAO Schwarz bear, but it's not the same as my baby bear.

The Net is a treasure trove of information about the Holy Father's life as a child, and it's worth a read. I personally find it very moving. If this post doesn't demonstrate why I love Papa Benny, than I am clueless as to what would.

On playing Mass: The blogger Brandon Vogt posted this video of his kiddo a while back. Fr Z has some delightful commentary on it HERE.

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