Benedict XVI speaks about Card. Mayer and death

From CNA:

Benedict XVI recalls life of cardinal, reflects upon eternal life

Vatican City, May 3, 2010 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Father remembered the life and legacy of the recently deceased Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer on Monday morning. During his remarks, the Pontiff noted that in dying we achieve the "most profound desire of mankind," being reunited with God.

The funeral Mass for the 98-year-old cardinal, who died last Friday, was concelebrated by members of the College of Cardinals led by their dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The Holy Father gave the homily.

"As is the destiny of the human existence," observed Pope Benedict, "it blossoms from the earth … and is called to Heaven, to the homeland from whence it mysteriously comes."

The Pope recalled the words of Christ from the cross, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit," and noted that every funeral celebration takes place "under the sign of hope."

Because in his last breath on the cross, Jesus sacrificed himself, taking on our sins and reestablishing the victory of life over death, he explained, "every man that dies in the Lord participates by faith in this act of infinite love, in some way returns his spirit together with Christ, in the sure hope that the hand of the Father will resurrect him from the dead and introduce him in the Kingdom of life.

"The great and unshakeable hope, resting on the solid rock of God’s love, assures us that the life of those who die in Christ ‘is not taken away but transformed’ and that ‘the abode of this earthly exile is destroyed, an eternal dwelling is being prepared in heaven’."

Amidst a climate in which a fear of death makes many despair and seek illusory consolations, "Christians stand out for the fact that they place their security in God, in a Love so great as to be able to renew the whole world," commented the Pope. [We must have a strong identity, founded on the right things, so that we can shape the world.]

The vision is to achieve the "most profound desire of mankind," the Holy Father underscored, which is living in the "new Jerusalem," in peace, without the threat of death and in full communion with God and each other.

"The Church and, in particular, the monastic community, constitute a prefiguration on earth of this final goal," he said.

"It is an imperfect anticipation," he added, "marked by limits and sins, and therefore always in need of conversion and purification, and, nevertheless, in the Eucharistic community one looks forward to the victory of Christ’s love over that which divides and mortifies."

Remembering the Benedictine cardinal and his lengthy life of service, especially in various dicasteries of the Holy See, Benedict XVI said that Cardinal Mayer always sought to realize the teaching of St. Benedict, "May nothing be put before love of Christ." [True in Card. Mayer’s case, to be sure.]

The cardinal was particularly remembered by the Holy Father for his service at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute and his promotion of dispositions concerning religious families from the Second Vatican Council.

He was prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and shortly after his elevation to cardinal in 1985 he became the first president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."

The Pope recalled that as the first president of the commission, "Cardinal Mayer proved himself to be a zealous and faithful servant, seeking to apply the words of his motto: ‘The love of Christ has brought us together in unity’.[The motto of his coat-of-arms, Congregavit nos in unum Chriti amor… from Ubi caritas sung on Holy Thursday for the "Mandatum".]

Benedict XVI closed by saying to the prelates on hand, "our life is in every instant in the hands of the Lord, especially in the moment of death. For this, with the confident invocation of Jesus on the cross … we wish to accompany our Brother Paul Augustin, while he completes his journey from this world to the Father."


It is a good idea to remind prelates of their death.  We all need explicit reminders of our death, to help us properly to deal with the constant and less distinct reminders.

Furthermore, there is an old phrase in Rome that Cardinals die in threes. 

I read today that His Eminence Luigi Card. Poggi died.  He had been the archivist and librarian and his title in Rome was San Lorenzo in Lucina.  He was 92 years old.

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  1. Andrew says:

    “The Church and, in particular, the monastic community, constitute a prefiguration on earth of this final goal,” he said.

    … in particular, the monastic community …

    Something to reflect upon, I would say.

  2. Our Holy Father always comes up with such beautiful homilies and talks, but this one sounds like it was especially nice. He must have really respected and liked Cardinal Mayer. And God be good to him and grant him many years, but it sounds like he feels the gravitational attraction of God more and more these days.

    It’s also very nice to hear about a funeral homily that really covers all the bases of Christian teaching on death and the last things.

    Re: Roman belief, I thought everybody thought everybody died in threes. (Albeit it’s a bit harder to prove, if you narrow it down to professions.) :)

  3. Mike says:

    Great motto…”Ubi caritas” is one of my favorite hymns; it’s amazing.

  4. JayneK says:

    What are the implications of the death of a Cardinal in terms of new appointments? Does this mean there will soon be some new Cardinals? What is the time frame?

  5. Athelstan says:


    The Holy Father can appoint cardinals whenever he likes, in effect. And however many he likes. There is no need to “replace” Cardinal Meyer per se because he was retired and not exercising an office.

    However, it’s long been assumed that there will be another consistory later this year.

  6. Phil_NL says:


    New cardinals are created in consistories, to be held at the pleasure of the pope, but usually once every few years. The last one was in 2007, so the next one will presumably be within a year or so. As the cardinals have (virtually?) no specific function/task arising from being a cardinal itself outside a conclave, replacement as a cardinal is not an urgent matter. Also, the number is not fixed; there’s only a maximum for voting carindals (that is, below 80), which may be ignored by a pope.
    The only scenario I see where the death of a cardinal may necessitate a swift replacement is if something terrible where to happen to a large number of voting-age cardinals (quod Deus avertat) – in other cases arrangements may be made by reassigning people and giving them red hats at an appropriate time.

    Obviously, all this does not apply in this case, card Mayer had undoubtedly retired from his most demanding posts years ago. May he rest in peace.

  7. JayneK says:

    Thanks to Phil_NL and Athelstan for answering my questions. I hope that our current pope is spared to us for many more years, but I have been wondering about the composition of the next conclave. Will they choose a successor who will continue Benedict’s policies? He is taking a long range approach that I expect to require more than a single papacy to take effect.

  8. MAJ Tony says:

    It is a good idea to remind prelates of their death. We all need explicit reminders of our death, to help us properly to deal with the constant and less distinct reminders.

    Sic transit gloria mundi. There’s a phrase we all bear hearing now and then.

  9. Phil_NL says:


    There’s no way to know, we can only pray and have faith. I do have the impression though that the Holy Spirit was working overtime (so to say) last time around, and I pray and expect the same on a future, hopefully quite distant, occasion.
    Also, from a different perspective, the composition of the college of cardinals has not changed that dramatically from BXVI’s election, and where it did probably (mostly) for the better. All cardinals named prior to JPII are now over 80, and many of the more ‘eye-brow raising’ names that circulated at the last conclave belong to cardinals too old to be likely candidates next time around. Moreover, BXVI will probably name a reasonably big number of new cardinals in the coming years: look at and see there are many over 75.

    That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of ‘dark horses’ who I cannot imagine doing well on St. Peter’s throne, but both logic and faith suggest we have confidence in the outcome.

  10. JFrater says:

    FatherZ, you seem to be right about Cardinals dying in threes – on the Vatican news RSS feed (VIS) it announced today the death of Cardinal Tomas Spidlik S.J. on 6 April at the age of 90.

  11. marajoy says:

    *everything* happens in threes…you get to the third one and you start counting over again!

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