Sunday, August 13, 2006

On Vacation With B16

From the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope focused his Angelus talk this morning not on the usual topic of the readings of the day, but on the importance of vacations and the different forms they can take.

As the Israeli cabinet announced its agreement to a cease-fire in the conflict with Hezbollah, the Pope expressed hope, appealing today for a lasting peace and the rapid entrance of humanitarian workers to the recently-afflicted areas.

Here's the Whispers translation:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days of summer, many have left the cities and find themselves in tourist towns or in their home countries for their vacations. To them I wish that this awaited time of rest may serve to reassure them in mind and body, submitted every day to a continued fatigue and labor, given the frantic course of modern life. Vacation also makes for a precious opportunity to spend more time with family, to reunite with relatives and friends, in a word to give more space to the human contact which the rhythms of everyday tasks keep from being cultivated as we would like. Of course, not all are given the possibility of having a time for vacation, and there are a few of those who, for various reasons, are compelled to not take them. In a particular way, I think of those who are alone, the elderly and the sick who often, during this time, suffer even more from loneliness. To these brothers and sisters of ours I'd like to make known my spiritual closeness, wishing from my heart that none of them may lack the sustenance and comfort of friends.

The vacation period becomes for many a profitable time, maybe for cultural gatherings, for extended moments of prayer and contemplation in contact with nature, or in monasteries and religious buildings. Having more free time, we can dedicate ourselves with better comfort to conversation with God, to meditation on Holy Scripture and to the reading of some formative book or other. Those who make this experience one of spiritual rest know how useful it is to not reduce vacation to a mere amusement or fun. Faithful participation at the Sunday Eucharistic celebration helps one feel a living part of the ecclesial community, also when they're outside their own parish. Wherever we find ourselves, we always need to nourish ourselves from the Eucharist. The Gospel page of this Sunday presents to us Jesus as the Bread of Life. He himself, according to what John the Evangelist refers to, declares himself "the living bread come down from heaven" (Jn 6:31), bread that nourishes our faith and feeds communion among all Christians.

The atmosphere of vacation can't make us forget the grave conflict taking place in the Middle East. The latest developments make for hope that the battles may cease and the prompt and efficient assurance of humanitarian assistance to the populations. The wish of all is that, finally, peace may prevail over violence and the force of arms. For this let us invoke with insistent trust Mary, ready always from heavenly glory, to which after tomorrow [i.e. Tuesday] we will contemplate her assumed, to intercede for her children and to help them in their necessities.

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae....

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On a side note, later in the day the hourlong television interview the Pope taped last week is supposed to be aired in Germany.... Keep an eye for transcripts and translations.

Reuters/Tony Gentile