Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Castel Gandolfo, Italy, said that with the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for his summer vacation, the happiest time of the year begins for the diocese.
In a July 15 interview with CNA, Bishop Semeraro reflected that having the Pope so close during the summer months “is a great joy.”
“The people of Castel Gandolfo feel it is like having someone from the family visit who fills us with affection,” he said. “Obviously, for us, this time when he is physically present makes our prayers that much more intense.”
Bishop Semeraro said that this summer the Pope will devote the month of July to working on the third volume of his discourse on the life of Jesus and that in August he will be visited by his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. In September, “he will devote some of his time to holding public audiences again.”
The bishop said that to be able to pray the Angelus together with the Pope each Sunday before hundreds of local faithful is a chance to draw closer to the universal Church and to the Lord.
“The Angelus prayer is the mystery of the Incarnation, and, ultimately, it reminds us of what is unique about the Christian religion: that there is no people that has a God as close as our God,” he said.
“Therefore, in this prayer, like Mary, we renew our adherence to the faith and our amen in faith to God.”
Bishop Semeraro observed, “During those Sundays, the Pope puts an emphasis on the value of rest and how to spend our vacation days, which should be a time for recreation for the heart, the spirit and the mind.”
Vacation should be a time to strengthen the relationships in our family and between friends that perhaps have been neglected throughout the year, as well as an opportunity to spend time outdoors, the bishop added.
“Above all, we should set aside time for a deeper encounter with God in prayer and meditation.”