Joseph Ratzinger at about 5 years old
Catholic News Service has an article about the Holy Father’s childhood memories. I think stories like that are so important because they remind us that somewhere in the world at this very moment there is a future pope, cardinal, bishop, priest, deacon, brother, sister, and lay leader who is a little child looking for our guidance.

I hope that I will be able to help at least one of them follow the life God is asking of them.

It is obvious that Pope Benedict’s faith was nurtured during his childhood, but he was a normal child. He played with his friends, went to school, got in trouble and did all the things that children do.

Remember to pray for vocations and encourage vocations, especially within your own family. Too many people complain about the vocation shortage while saying they don’t want their children to become priests. Vocations are first nurtured in the home. I am not saying that all priests recieved this support at home, because a great many did not. St. Francis, as well as countless other saints, are great examples of that. However, many young men and women feel God is calling them but they reject the call because of their parents disapproval.

Here is the article:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI relived some of his most precious childhood memories, such as his first Communion, bike rides with his mother, and helping neighbors herd cows, when a delegation from Aschau am Inn, Germany, made the pope an honorary citizen.

The pope held a private audience Oct. 4 in a meeting room inside the Vatican’s Paul VI hall with a delegation of nearly 40 residents of the small Bavarian town east of Munich, where the pontiff spent his elementary school years.

The Ratzinger family moved to Aschau am Inn in 1932, when the pope was 5 years old, and stayed there until the pope’s father retired in 1937.

Pope Benedict told the delegation, which included the town’s mayor and some of the pope’s former classmates and friends, that he was greatly honored to receive the special recognition from a town he still considers home.Speaking off the cuff in German, the pope said some of his most important and beautiful memories are set in Aschau. He spoke of how his family and the town celebrated Christmas and Easter.

“I think of Christmas in the room with the bay window, where the Christmas tree stood, and then going to church through the light snowfall,” he said.It was while all the lights in the church were blazing as the congregation sang “Silent Night” that “we knew the Lord was truly born and that it was good to be alive,” he said.

The pope said that of all the towns in which he has lived none compared to Aschau in having given him a sense of experiencing Christ’s resurrection.

At the time, the church there began Easter celebrations “the old-fashioned way,” he said, with heavy black cloths draped over all the windows so the church was “totally in the dark.”

The priest would loudly sing “Christus resurrexit” (“Christ is risen”) and “suddenly the black drapes fell to the ground and the light flooded the church and we knew … that Christ is risen,” the pope said.

Pope Benedict said by making his first confession and receiving his first Communion in Aschau he was introduced into the world, the faith and the life of the church.

He recalled the many friendships he made at school and admitted that students’ joking around “sometimes got the teacher angry, but I think all in all we weren’t that bad.”

“In Aschau I experienced the beauty of creation,” he said, detailing the many hills and mountains he and his mother hiked or biked and the many animals his neighbors kept.

“I even herded cows,” said the pope, adding with a chuckle that even though he didn’t think he had ever been much help “it brought me closer to nature, and it was important for me to have had this first experience with God’s creatures and to bond with animals.”

It was in Aschau, he said, that “we made our first friendships with dogs and cats.”

Link to the article.

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