Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Also for our beloved brother, Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, the hour has come to leave this world. He was born, almost a century ago, in my own land, precisely in Altotting, where the famous Marian shrine arises to which many of the affections and memories of us, Bavarians, are linked. Thus is the destiny of human existence: It flowers from the earth -- at a precise point of the world -- and is called to Heaven, to the homeland from which it comes mysteriously. "Desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus" (Psalm 41/42:2). In this verb "desiderat" is the whole man, his being flesh, spirit, earth and heaven. It is the original mystery of the image of God in man. Young Paul -- who later as a monk was called Augustin -- Mayer studied this topic, in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, for his doctorate in theology. It is the mystery of eternal life, deposited in us as a seed since baptism, which must be received in the journey of our life, until the day that we give back the spirit to God the Father.
"Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum" (Luke 23:46). Jesus' last words on the cross guide us in prayer and in meditation, while we are gathered around the altar to give our last farewell to our mourned brother. Every funeral celebration of ours is placed under the sign of hope: In the last breath of Jesus on the cross (cf. Luke 23:46; John 19:30), God gave himself wholly to humanity, filling the void opened by sin and re-establishing the victory of life over death. Because of this, every man who dies in the Lord participates through faith in this act of infinite love, in some way gives up his spirit together with Christ, in the sure hope that the hand of the Father will resurrect him from the dead and introduce him into the Kingdom of life.
"Hope does not disappoint us," says the Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Rome, "because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). The great and unfailing hope, founded on the solid rock of the love of God, assures us that the life of those who die in Christ "is not taken away but transformed"; and that "while the dwelling of this earthly exile is destroyed, an eternal dwelling is prepared in heaven" (Preface of the Dead I). In an age such as ours, in which fear of death leads many people to despair and to the search for illusory consolations, the Christian is distinguished by the fact that he places his security in God, in a love so great that it can renew the whole world. "Behold, I make all things new" (Revelation 21:5), states he who sits on the throne at the end of the Book of Revelation. The vision of the new Jerusalem expresses the realization of humanity's most profound desire: to live together in peace, with no more threat of death, but enjoying full communion with God and among ourselves. The Church and, in particular, the monastic community, are a prefigurement on earth of this final goal. It is an imperfect anticipation, marked by limitations and sins and hence always in need of conversion and purification; and yet, in the Eucharistic community we taste ahead of time the victory of the love of Christ over that which divides and mortifies. "Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor" -- the Love of Christ has gathered us in unity: This is the episcopal motto of the venerated brother who has left us. As a son of St. Benedict, he has experienced the promise of the Lord: "He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son" (Revelation 21:7).
Formed in the school of the Benedictine Fathers of the Abbey of St. Michael in Metten, in 1931 he made his monastic profession. During his whole life he sought to realize all that St. Benedict says in the Rule: "Prefer nothing to the love of Christ." After studies in Salzburg and Rome, he undertook a long and appreciated teaching activity in the St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, where he became rector in 1949, holding this office for 17 years. Founded, precisely at that time, was the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, which became an essential point of reference for the preparation of formators in the field of liturgy. Elected, after the Council, Abbot of his beloved Abbey of Metten, he held this office for five years, but in 1972 the Servant of God Pope Paul VI appointed him Secretary of the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, and consecrated him personally bishop on Feb. 13, 1972.
During the years of service in this dicastery, he promoted the progressive implementation of the dispositions of Vatican Council II in regard to religious families. In this particular realm, in his capacity as religious, he demonstrated outstanding ecclesial and human sensitivity. In 1984, the Venerable John Paul II entrusted him with the post of prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, creating him later cardinal in the consistory of May 25, 1985 and assigning him the title of St. Anselm on the Aventine. Subsequently he appointed him first president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Also in this post, Cardinal Mayer proved to be a faithful and zealous servant, attempting to implement the content of his motto: The love of Christ has gathered us in unity.
Dear brothers, our life is in the hands of the Lord at every instant, above all at the moment of death. Because of this, with the confident invocation of Jesus on the cross: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit," we want to accompany our brother Paul Augustin, while he takes his step from this world to the Father.
At this moment, my thoughts cannot but go to the Shrine of the Mother of Graces of Altotting. Spiritually turned to that place of pilgrimage, we entrust to the Holy Virgin our prayer of suffrage for mourned cardinal Mayer. He was born near that Shrine, conformed his life to Christ according to the Benedictine Rule, and died in the shadow of this Vatican Basilica. May the Virgin, St. Peter and St. Benedict accompany this faithful disciple of the Lord to his Kingdom of light and peace. Amen.
Translation via Zenit.