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.
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."
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'."
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."