Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged Catholics to avoid the commercialization of Christmas and suggested that assembling the Nativity scene at home is an effective way of presenting the faith to children.
"In today's consumer society, this time [of the year] is unfortunately subjected to a sort of commercial 'pollution' that is in danger of altering its true spirit, which is characterized by meditation, sobriety and by a joy that is not exterior but intimate," the pope said in his traditional Sunday blessing.
The commercialization of the holiday season has been a concern for Catholics and Protestants alike, with many church denominations urging members to reflect on the suffering of Christ throughout Advent.
The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and the United Methodist Church, for example, made available day-by-day resources for advent online for ministers to use at church and parents to use at home. The PC(USA)s advent calendar even includes special suggestions on how to share the Christmas story with children including making collages and window illustrations.
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict had a different suggestion for parents who wished to share the season with their young ones.
"Assembling the Nativity scene in the home can turn out to be a simple but effective way of presenting the faith to pass it on to one's children," Benedict said. "The Nativity scene helps us contemplate the mystery of the love of God, which is revealed to us in the poverty and simplicity of the grotto in Bethlehem."