During the summer, when we have time to relax, we must rediscover how great it is to read the bible. In the first general audience since his July break, Pope Benedict XVI invited pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo, to use some of their vacation to re-familiarise themselves with the beauty of the bible, and meditate on its meaning.
Thousands flooded the main square of the tiny hill top village which borders onto the main entrance to the Papal summer residence.
Appearing on the balcony overlooking the square, the Pope said "each of us needs time and space for meditation, reflection and calm ... Thank God it's so! In fact, this requirement tells us that we are not made only for work but also to think, reflect, or simply to follow a story with our minds and hearts, a story that we can connect with, in a sense 'get lost' in to then find ourselves enriched. “
Of course, the Pope observed, many books "are mostly for escapism." And yet, he added, many are also dedicated to a more challenging reading: "Why 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. “
The bible, the Holy Father said, is like a collection of books, "a small library." Some of these books, he said, "remain almost unknown to most people, even good Christians." He mentioned some of these books, such as the "Book of Tobit," on family and marriage, the "Book of Esther "on the power of prayer and the "Book of Ruth", on Divine providence.
These little books can be read through in one hour, he said, before pointing to more challenging, and authentic masterpieces, such as “the 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".
The Pope also spoke of the New Testament stressing "the beauty of reading one Gospel straight through" as well as the Acts of the Apostles, or Letters. He then reiterated his suggestion to "keep the Bible on hand during the summer or during breaks", " to enjoy it in a new way”.
After the catechesis, speaking in English, the Pope greeted, among others, a group of faithful from the Japanese city of Nagasaki who on August 9 next will commemorate the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing during the Second World War . Then before taking his leave Pope Benedict went to personally greet the sick and the faithful in the front rows behind the barriers.
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