.- Groups of choirs, dancers, artists, poets and horn blowers from Pope Benedict XVI’s native Bavaria visited the pontiff at Castel Gandolfo on Friday as a belated birthday present.
Over 1,000 pilgrims from Bavaria visited the papal summer residence under the leadership of Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Vatican Radio reports.
Men, women and children dressed in colorful lederhosen and summer dresses for a Bavarian Hour in honor of the Pope’s 85th birthday this past April.
Pope Benedict said that their folk songs and their Bavarian dialect reminded him of his homeland, which he gave high praise.
He said that God has made it easy for Bavarians because he gave them “a land so beautiful that it is easy to recognize that God is good and be happy.”
God enabled Bavarians to give their land its full beauty through their culture, their faith, and their songs, music and art, the Pope continued. Bavarian culture is not “rude” or “rowdy” but cheerful and “imbued with joy, born from an inner acceptance of the world, from an inner yes to life that is a yes to joy.”
This joy, he said, is “based on the fact that we are in harmony with the Creation, in harmony with the Creator himself and this is why we know it is good to be man,” he said.
The Pope connected this joy with the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
“The world is beautiful and God is good and He became man and entered into us, suffers and lives with us,” he said. “God is good and it is good to be man.”
The Pope added that despite the suffering, darkness, and pain of the world, it is legitimate to be “defiantly joyful” because denying this joy “benefits no one, it only makes the world darker.”
Those who do not love themselves cannot love or help their fellow man, he noted.
“We live in this joy, and try to bring this joy to others, to reject evil and to be servants of peace and reconciliation,” he told the Bavarian delegation.
Pope Benedict thanked Cardinal Marx, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the performers and his other visitors.
“I was deeply touched by everything and I am very happy and grateful,” he said.
He joined in the traditional Bavarian farewell folk song before departing.