Christians Need Not Fear Death, Says Pope

Affirms That Hope Is Based in God’s Love

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2010 ( In a society where the fear of death drives some to despair or to superficial comforts, Christians are called to have hope founded on God’s love, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope stated this today in his homily at a funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, who died Friday at the age of 98.

The cardinal, although 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.»

The Pontiff recalled that the prelate «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 we Bavarians are linked.»

He continued: «Thus is the destiny of human existence: It flowers from the earth — in a precise point of the world — and is called to Heaven, to the homeland from which it comes mysteriously.»

«In an age such as ours,» the Holy Father said, «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.»

We have a «great and unfailing hope,» he affirmed, «founded on the solid rock of the love of God,» which «assures us that the life of those who die in Christ is not taken away but transformed.»

Benedict XVI stated, «Every funeral celebration of ours is placed under the sign of hope: In the last breath of Jesus on the cross, God gave himself wholly to humanity, filling the void opened by sin and re-establishing the victory of life over death.»

«Because of this,» he added, «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.»


In this Kingdom, the Pope said, humanity will find its 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 prefiguration on earth of this final goal,» he said.

«It is an imperfect anticipation,» the Pontiff acknowledged, «marked by limitations and sins and hence always in need of conversion and purification.»

Yet, even now, he added, «in the Eucharistic community we taste the victory of the love of Christ over that which divides and mortifies.»

The Holy Father recalled the episcopal motto of the deceased cardinal: «Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor — the Love of Christ has gathered us in unity.»

He continued: «Formed in the school of the Benedictine Fathers of the Abbey of St. Michael in Metten [Germany], 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.'»

Benedict XVI noted the service of Cardinal Mayer in the Vatican, where he «proved to be a faithful and zealous servant, attempting to implement the content of his motto.»

«Our life is in the hands of the Lord at every instant,» the Pope affirmed, «above all at the moment of death.»

«Because of this,» he continued, «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.»

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