A BLOG called “Fidem in terra” has translated into English a message from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, delivered by his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein. The Funeral of Joachim Cardinal Meisner took place on Saturday, 15 July 2017, in the Cathedral of Cologne, which some say is the world’s most beautiful cathedral. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Woelki, who succeeded Cardinal Meisner as Archbishop of Cologne.
T THIS HOUR, when the church of Cologne and faithful from further a field gathered to say goodbye to Cardinal Joachim Meisner, my heart and thoughts are with you also, and gladly accepting the invitation of Cardinal Woelki, I wish to address a word of remembrance to you.
When I heard of the death of Cardinal Meisner last Wednesday, I did not want to believe it. The day before we had talked on the phone. His gratitude for the fact that he had been on vacation after he had participated in the beatification of Bishop Teofilius Matulionis in Vilnius on Sunday before (June 25) was clear in his his voice. The love for the Church in the neighboring countries in the East, which had suffered under the Communist persecution, as well as the gratitude for the withstanding the sufferings of that time, shaped his life. And so is it is no coincidence that the last visit to his life was one to a Confessor of the Faith in those countries.
What particularly impressed me in that last talk with the retired Cardinal, was the loosened joy, the inner joy, and the confidence he had found. We know that this passionate shepherd and pastor found it difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon His Church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.
Two things in recent times which pleased him more than anything:
(1) On the one hand, he has always told me how deeply he in the Sacrament of Penance, how young people, especially young men, are experiencing the grace of forgiveness—the Gift, they have found the life that only God can give.
(2) The other thing that has always touched him and gave him joy, was the quiet growth of Eucharistic Adoration. At the World Youth Day in Cologne yhis was a central point for him—that there was Adoration, a silence in which only the Lord spoke to the heart. Some Pastoral and Liturgal experts felt that such silence in looking at the Lord can not be achieved with such a huge number of people. Some were also of the opinion that Eucharistic Adoration was overtaken as such, by the Mass, since the Lord would be received in Eucharistic bread and not be looked at. But that this Bread can not be eaten like any food, and that the Eucharistic sacrament “welcomes” all dimensions of our existence – that reception must be worship, has now become very clear. Thus, the time of Eucharistic Adoration at the Cologne World Youth Day has become an interior event, which remained unforgettable to the Cardinal.
When, on his last morning, Cardinal Meisner did not appear at Mass, he was found dead in his room. His Breviary had slipped out of his hands: he was praying as he died, looking at the Lord, talking to the Lord. The death that was given to him, shows once again how he lived: looking at the Lord and talking to him. So we can confidently recommend his soul to the goodness of God. Lord, we thank thee for the testimony of thy servant Joachim. Let him be intercessors for the Church of Cologne, and on the whole Be earthly! Requiescat in pace!
You can also download the original German.