On the Value of Vacation

"Days in Which More Time Can Be Dedicated to Prayer"

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LES COMBES, Italy, JULY 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with some 6,000 people gathered in this Alpine village. The Pope has been here on holiday since last Monday.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I have been here for a few days, in the marvelous mountains of Val d'Aosta, where the memory is still alive of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, who for several years spent brief relaxing and invigorating stays here.

This summer pause is a truly providential gift of God, after the first months of the demanding pastoral service that Divine Providence has entrusted to me. My heartfelt gratitude goes to the bishop of Aosta, esteemed Monsignor Giuseppe Anfossi, and to all those who made it possible, as well as to those who with discretion and generous abnegation see to it that everything runs smoothly. Moreover, I am also grateful to the local population and to the tourists, for their cordial welcome.

In the world in which we live, it is almost a necessity to be able to regain one's strength of body and spirit, especially for those who live in the city, where the conditions of life, often feverish, leave little room for silence, reflection and relaxed contact with nature.

Holidays are, moreover, days in which more time can be dedicated to prayer, reading and meditation on the profound meaning of life, in the peaceful context of one's family and loved ones.

Vacation time offers the unique opportunity to pause before the thought-provoking spectacles of nature, a wonderful "book" within reach of everyone, adults and children. In contact with nature, a person rediscovers his correct dimension, rediscovers himself as a creature, small but at the same time unique, with a "capacity for God" because interiorly he is open to the Infinite. Driven by his heartfelt urgent search for meaning, he perceives in the surrounding world the mark of goodness and Divine Providence and opens almost naturally to praise and prayer.

Reciting the Angelus together in this pleasant Alpine locality, let us ask the Virgin Mary to teach us the secret of the silence that becomes praise, of recollection that disposes to meditation, of love of nature that blossoms in thanksgiving to God. We will thus be able to receive more easily in our hearts the light of Truth and practice it in freedom and love.

[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet the English-speaking visitors who join us for this Angelus. May the summer holidays be a time of rest and an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord in gratitude and prayer. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]