VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2010 – Translation of the eulogy Pope Benedict XVI delivered during the funeral liturgy for Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, 98. The funeral was held in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Cardinal Mayer, retired at the time of his death, had served as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei.”
Cardinal Mayer is also a former rector and member of the faculty at Sant’ Anselmo.
“…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 Altötting, 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.
“…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 Saint 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 Saint Michael in Metten, in 1931 he made his monastic profession. During his whole life he sought to realize all that Saint 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 Sant Anselmo 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 February 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 Sant Anselmo 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 Altötting. 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, Saint Peter and Saint Benedict accompany this faithful disciple of the Lord to his Kingdom of light and peace. Amen.”