.- During his noontime Angelus prayer yesterday, temporarily being held at his vacation spot in Les Combes, in Italy’s northern alps, Pope Benedict stressed the need for vacations, particularly for city-dwellers, to restore body and spirit. The Holy Father joined with some 6,000 people, including locals, holiday-makers and pilgrims, who had gathered in Italy's Valle d'Aosta, to join him in the Marian prayer.
The Pope specifically recalled his "beloved predecessor," John Paul II, "whose memory is still alive in the stupendous mountains of the Valle d'Aosta" where "for many years he came to spend brief periods of vacation."
"This summer break," he continued, "is a truly providential gift of God following the first months of the demanding pastoral service with which Divine Providence has entrusted me."
"In the world in which we live it is almost a requirement to be able to restore body and spirit, especially for city dwellers, where the often frenetic lifestyle leaves little time for silence, reflection or the soothing contact with nature. Vacations are also a period in which one can dedicate more time to prayer, reading and meditation on the profound meaning of life, in the serene environment of one's own family and loved ones."
"Through contact with nature,” the Pope continued, “people again find their true dimension, they rediscover themselves as creatures, small but at the same time unique, and 'capable of God' because of an interior openness to Infinity. Driven by the need for meaning which rises from their hearts, they perceive in the surrounding world the signs of goodness and of Divine Providence and, almost naturally, they become open to praise and prayer."