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 CNS Story:

POPE-BROTHER Jan-20-2009 (450 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope hosts concert to celebrate his brother's 85th birthday

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the Sistine Chapel where he was elected pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI took a stroll down memory lane, reminiscing about how his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, took him to Salzburg, Austria, almost 70 years ago to hear a Mozart Mass.

The same Mozart composition, his Mass in C Minor, was performed Jan. 17 in the Sistine Chapel in honor of Msgr. Ratzinger and his 85th birthday.

The music was performed by the Regensburg Boys' Choir, which Msgr. Ratzinger had directed for some 30 years, the Regensburg cathedral orchestra and guest soloists.

Speaking after the concert, Pope Benedict said that although he was a 14-year-old boy when he and his brother first heard the Mozart Mass performed, "I understood that we experienced something other than a simple concert, that it was music at prayer, the divine office, in which we almost could touch something of the magnificence and beauty of God himself, and we were touched."

The pope said he and his brother returned to Salzburg several times after World War II to listen to Mozart's Mass again, "and for this reason it is deeply inscribed in our interior biography."

The thanksgiving to God expressed in the Mozart Mass "is not a superficial gratitude given lightly," the pope said, but is wholehearted and reflects Mozart's "interior struggle, his search for forgiveness, the mercy of God and, then, from these depths, his joy in God shines more brightly than ever."

In the presence of the choir, orchestra and guests, the pope told his brother, "The 85 years of your life were not always easy."

The pope said his parents had lost all their savings in the 1930s, then a new economic crisis enveloped the world, then the Nazis came to power and World War II broke out.

But the brothers found "hope and joy" after the war as they returned to the seminary and were ordained to the priesthood together in 1951.

Other challenges followed, the pope said, "but we always perceived the goodness of God who called us and guided us."

Pope Benedict said his brother discovered almost from the beginning the fact that God was calling him to exercise his priestly ministry while using his musical talents.

The pope ended his remarks to his brother by praying that God "would give you, dear Georg, more good years to continue to live in the joy of God and the joy of music and to continue serving people as a priest."

"And we pray that he will allow all of us one day to enter the heavenly concert to experience completely the joy of God," the pope said.

END


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