The Meaning of Advent

Cathedral Church Of Our Lady

A personal discovery

At the beginning of Advent fifty years ago, in December 1964, a student went to Mass at Munich Cathedral. The young priest who gave the sermon said that it had long been believed that the coming of Jesus Christ had divided mankind’s history on the earth into two: the heathen period (BC) and the Christian (AD). He asked: surely, after the two World Wars, the holocaust, and Hiroshima, no one could possibly believe that anymore? No, the boundary between darkness and light, between imprisonment and freedom, was not in history, but within ourselves. Advent was not an event which occurred according to the Calendar, but in our hearts – or failed to occur because we were unable to receive it.

The student was so struck by this that he spent a sleepless night wandering the streets, and one day entered the priesthood.

The priest who gave the sermon, and who later confessed that as a young man his favourite writer was Hermann Hesse, was Josef Ratzinger – from 2005 until his resignation in 2013, Pope Benedict.