.- Pope Benedict XVI has urged Catholics to read the Bible while on vacation, particularly the lesser known books of sacred scripture.
âThis seems to be a good thing to do on the holidays: take a book of the Bible, so you have some relaxation and, at the same time, enter into the great expanse of the Word of God and deepen our contact with the Eternal,â said the Pope in his Wednesday General Audience address at his holiday residence of Castle Gandolfo, 15 miles south of Rome, Aug. 3.
Pope Benedict noted how âeach of us needs time and space for meditation, reflection and calmâ adding âthank God itâs so!â He said this tells us that âwe are not made only for work but also to think, reflect, or simply to follow a story with our minds and hearts.â Hence many books are read âmostly for escapism.â
The Pope, however, challenged pilgrims to attempt some slightly âmore challengingâ reading.
âWhy not discover some books of the Bible, which are normally unknown? Or of which we have maybe heard some passages during the liturgy, but we never read in its entirety? In fact, many Christians have never read the Bible, and have a very limited and superficial knowledge of it.â
The Pope even gave those gathered in the small hilltop townâs Liberty Square suggestions as to which books of the Bible to read reminding them that âthe Bible - as the name implies - is a collection of books, a small âlibrary,â born over a millennium.â
From the Old Testament he suggested some of the shorter books which âcan be read through in one hour.â These include, he said, the Book of Tobit âa story that contains a very high sense of family and marriageâ, the Book of Esther âin which the Jewish Queen, with faith and prayer, save her people from exterminationâ and the Book of Ruth, âa foreigner who knows God and experiences His providence.â
He also emphasized the worth of âmore challengingâ Old Testament books which the Pope deemed to be âauthentic masterpieces.â
âThe Book of Job, which tackles the great problem of innocent suffering, Ecclesiastes for its disconcerting modernity which questions the meaning of life and the world, the Song of Songs, a beautiful poem symbolic of human love.â
Turning to the New Testament the Pope reminded pilgrims of âthe beauty of reading one Gospel straight throughâ as well as the merits of other books such as the Acts of the Apostles.
In conclusion he suggested that pilgrims keep a Bible âon hand during the summer or during breaks.â
âIn doing so they can become moments of relaxation, as well as cultural enrichment, even nourishment of the spirit, capable of fostering knowledge of God and dialogue with God â prayer.â
Todayâs brief address continues Pope Benedictâs theme of prayer which he has been developing during his Wednesday audiences since earlier this year.
The Pope then imparted his apostolic blessing before descending from the balcony of his papal apartment to personally meet and greet the sick in the town square below.