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Mar 30 08 1:38 PM
“After all our wanderings this is where we finally found our true home and it is where my memory always returns with gratitude. I will never forget our first sight of the house. The truck with the furniture had gone on ahead of us, and we arrived in the car of our landlady in Auschau. What we first saw was the meadow, strewn with primroses. It was the beginning of April….”
Instead of tap water, there was a well, which was very picturesque. On one side of the house there was an oak forest interspersed with beeches, on the other side were the mountains, and when we opened our eyes in the morning, the first thing we could see was the mountains. In front we had apple trees, plum trees and a lot of flowers that my mother had cultivated in the garden. It was a beautiful, large plot of ground – in terms of location it was heavenly. And in the old barns you could have the most marvellous dreams and play wonderful games. It was an unexplored world… it was impossible to discover everything about it, because it was so varied. There was an old weaving room in the house, because the previous owners had to all appearances been weavers. The rooms themselves were of the greatest simplicity, and the house – I believe it had been built in 1726 – was on the whole in need of repairs. The rain came in and so forth. But it was simply wonderful; it was a childhood dream. We felt altogether happy there even without comforts. For my father, who had to pay for the necessary repairs, for my mother, who carried water from the well, it was perhaps less fun. But we experienced it as a real paradise. It took us just under half an hour to get to the city. But even that – the fact that you were on the move like that – was wonderful. So we didn’t feel at all the lack of modern amenities but experienced the adventure, freedom, and beauty of an old house with its inner warmth.
“In the seminary at Traunstein I found, above all else, friends and friendships, both of which have been decisive in my life. I have learnt to accept others in their otherness, and in so doing, have learnt to know and accept myself. For this I am grateful to the seminary for the many happy memories, for the experience of celebrations and ceremony, for an introduction to the arts, particularly to music and its beauty and finally for guidance on the way to God.”
© BenodetteIt was from this house that the boys had to go to the war, Joseph to non-combative roles and Georg, who was older, to postings in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy. It was also to this house that they eventually returned. The joy of the family reunion has been recounted by both brothers. Joseph Ratzinger has described the simple meal his mother gave him on his return in June 1945.
Of course the joy was great. It was a time of great food shortage, but our mother gave me a fresh salad from our garden, an egg from our hens and a big piece of bread. A meal has never again tasted as good to me.
Yes, that is a precious memory. On the one hand I had, so to speak, the moral certainty that it was God’s will for me, that it was right. But with such a great matter with such an unknown future, somewhere a question does remain: Have you done the right thing, was that a good decision, will you be able to do it? That was for me truly a sign that helped me a great deal, that at the moment of the laying on of hands, when according to our faith you become a priest, a little bird arose, flew towards the altar and trilled a little song. That isn’t a superstition, but for me in any event it was a sign that it was wholly right.
© BenodetteLife goes on here but it is very nostalgic to wander through the streets of Traunstein, or to walk, like the young Joseph Ratzinger, from Hufschlag to the church, or to the Gymnasium. Perhaps the air of nostalgia is greater here than in many other place associated with him because this was home to the peripatetic Ratzinger family for so long. It was here that Joseph Ratzinger reached maturity and decided to take the first steps towards the priesthood - steps which ultimately led him to Rome and onto the world stage. Will Joseph Ratzinger ever visit Traunstein again? Will he ever visit Bavaria again? Papa Wojtyla returned to his native Poland more than once, so perhaps it is possible. This year the Pope will be returning to Bressanone, a favourite family holiday haunt for forty years. Perhaps, if all goes well, he can spend his vacation next year in St Michael’s seminary. The Pope would be home again in his beloved Bavaria and close to the place where “my memory always returns with gratitude.”
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