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POPE-WORK Aug-21-2006 (290 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope says working too hard is never good

By Catholic News Service

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- In the middle of his summer break, Pope Benedict XVI said working too hard was never a good thing -- not even for a pope.

Speaking at a noon blessing at his summer residence outside Rome Aug. 20, the pope reflected on the 12th-century writings of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who warned against "the dangers of excessive activity, whatever the condition or office held, because many occupations lead to a 'hardening of the heart' and suffering of the spirit."

"This warning is valid for every kind of occupation, even those involving the governance of the church," the pope said.

He recalled that St. Bernard had criticized the reigning pontiff of his time, Pope Eugenius III, for "losing himself" in his many activities and forgetting the primacy of prayer and contemplation. The saint's provocative comments are well worth remembering today, the pope said.

The pope also highlighted an underlying theme in St. Bernard's writings: divine love as the greatest source of spiritual strength. It's a theme the pope has focused on throughout his young papacy.

The pope was spending most of the summer months at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, where aides said he was spending much of his time writing, praying and meditating.

On Aug. 19, the pope was a spectator in the courtyard of his villa for a performance of "The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc," a play by the French writer Charles Peguy.

Afterward, the pope thanked the actors and praised the author, saying Peguy had depicted St. Joan's sorrow and dismay at the suffering around her, but also conveyed the hope and courage inspired by her faith.


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