Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Summer Vacation

Summer is finally here!

Yesterday officially marked the first day of summer. What does summer really mean for us? Is it a time for planning family picnics, camping, going to the beach, perhaps a pilgrimage? Whatever it may be, summer is a time for taking a break from the routine of daily life. It means resting the mind, the body and the soul.

John Paul II stressed the importance of vacation and would fill his summer days with leisurely strolls along mountain trails in the Italian Alps. The Pope said vacation can provide a chance for spiritual reflection. On one of his trips to Les Combes, he said "Here amid pleasant woods and valleys, the body is restored and the spirit can devote itself more to reflection and contemplation. The Pope invited people to make their vacations a "time of inner enrichment" and family togetherness. He also recalled those people unable to take vacations, especially the "sick, the elderly, the imprisoned and those who are alone." (Catholic News Services)

In July 2005, Benedict XVI will continue John Paul's tradition of spending the summer holidays in the village of Les Combes, in Val d'Aosta, Italy.

Pope John Paul II rests during his vacation in the Italian Alps, in this picture released by the Vatican on Tuesday, August 1, 2000. The Pope spent 12 days in a resort near Les Combes in the northern Val d'Aosta region of Italy from July 10 through July 22. (AP Photo/Arturo Mari)


CASTEL GANDOLFO, JULY 23, 2000 ( To enjoy a few days of holiday is more necessary than ever in "present day society, which is so frenetic and competitive, in which the logic of production and profit predominate, not infrequently to the detriment of the person," John Paul II said at noon today, when he met several thousand pilgrims and residents of Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence, some 20 miles outside Rome, where he will reside for the rest of the summer.

Children's joy and laughter accompanied the Pope as he left the Aosta Valley yesterday, where he spent 12 days of rest, in the heart of the Italian Alps. "Now I am here again among you, Brothers and Sisters of Castel Gandolfo, whom I am always so happy to see again," the suntanned and happy Holy Father said, before praying the "Angelus" with all those present.
The Pope will now continue his ordinary activities in Castel Gandolfo. However, because of the Jubilee and his numerous engagements, his stay will be shorter than other years. Therefore, he said with a smile that he had "greater reason to appreciate these weeks that the Lord is granting me to spend among you."

Recovery of Interior Balance
The Bishop of Rome dedicated his meeting with pilgrims to talk, specifically, about vacations, "adequate periods of rest, in which to recover energy and, at the same time, rediscover the right internal balance." Holidays must be used wisely, because "they are beneficial to the individual and family, thanks to contact with nature, tranquility, the greater opportunity to cultivate family harmony, good reading, and healthy recreational activity; and, above all, thanks to the possibility to dedicate yourself primarily to prayer, contemplation, and listening to God."

Gospel Value
Although a papal encyclical has not been written on vacations, Christ himself spoke about the importance of rest in the Gospel. The Holy Father recalled that when the Apostles had returned from their first mission, Jesus told them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." "Exhausted from their incessant activity in the midst of the people, every so often, Jesus and the disciples felt the need for a time of rest." Although the evangelist says that the crowds interrupted that "need for a time of rest," the Pontiff said that, nevertheless, "the value of rest remains and the need to use free time for healthy physical and especially spiritual relaxation."

Therefore, before bidding farewell, the Pope wished "all those on holiday a good and profitable vacation," and he prayed for those "who, for various reasons, do not have the opportunity to leave their usual occupations and ordinary routine."


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