Christmas tree
The “world’s largest Christmas ‘tree’” on an Italian mountainside. This year, Pope Benedict XVI lit it remotely. Newscom photo

Pope Benedict XVI announced his three Christmas wishes this year before using a tablet computer to light the world’s largest electronic Christmas “tree,” stretching more than 2,000 feet up a mountainside near Gubbio, Italy. 

It is not every day that a pontiff reveals his Christmas desires. So, in the same spirit, we reprint his remarks below, and express our own wish that they are granted to all Christians, and in a very special way to the readers of OSV Newsweekly. A blessed, peaceful Christmas to all! 

Before lighting the tree, I would like to express three wishes. 

This Christmas tree is formed on the slopes of Mount Ingino at whose summit ... is found the basilica of Gubbio’s patron saint, St. Ubaldo. Looking at it, our gaze is naturally drawn upwards, toward heaven, toward the world of God. 

My first wish, therefore, is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, not rest only on the horizon of this world, on material things, but that in some way, like this tree that tends upward, it be directed toward God. God never forgets us but he also asks that we don’t forget him. 

The Gospel recounts that, on the holy night of Christ’s birth, a light enveloped the shepherds, announcing a great joy to them: the birth of Jesus, the one who brings us light, or better, the one who is the true light that illuminates all. The great tree that I will light up shortly overlooks the city of Gubbio and will illuminate the darkness of the night with its light. 

My second wish is that this reminds us that we also need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and a veil of darkness seems to surround us. But what light can truly illuminate our hearts and give us a firm and sure hope? It is the child whom we contemplate on holy Christmas, in a poor and simple manger, because he is the Lord who draws near to each of us and asks that we receive him anew in our lives, asks us to want him, to trust in him, to feel that he is present, that he is accompanying us, sustaining us and helping us. 

But this great tree is made up of many lights. The final wish I’d like to make is that each of us carry a little bit of light into the environments in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods, towns and cities.  

May each of us be a light for those who are at our sides; may we leave aside the selfishness that so often closes hearts and leads one to think only of oneself; may we pay a little greater attention to others, give them a little more love.  

Each small gesture of goodness is like one of the lights of this great tree: Together with the other lights it is able to illuminate the darkness of the night, even the darkest ones.

Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; John Norton, editor; Sarah Hayes, presentation editor.