Cardinal Augustin Mayer, RIP

May 4, 2010

Today I read with regret that Cardinal Augustin Mayer, OSB, had passed away at age 98 a few days ago.  Cardinal Mayer is remembered among other things as the first Prefect of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei founded by Pope John Paul II in 1988 to address the need for the restoration of the Catholic traditional liturgies. Mayer was sympathetic and helpful to the Ecclesia Dei movement throughout the world even though many in the hierarchy tried to obstruct his efforts.  It was fitting that a Benedictine monk devoted to the sacred liturgy accepted this important post, fulfilling his episcopal motto: “Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor” — the Love of Christ has gathered us in unity.

Pope Benedict celebrated the funeral Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome May 3rd and gave one of his usual simple but profound homilies.  Here are some excerpts translated by Zenit:

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.

…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.

…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.”

…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.

We will miss him, those of us who have given so many years of our lives to the restoration of Catholic sacred tradition, and we look forward to meeting him again in heaven. To read the entire sermon, visit Zenit.

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Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 Catholic Church, religion


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