Synopses & Reviews
I can say in all sincerity that I am at peace. I consider this as God’s special gift to me.”
—Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Arch-bishop of Chicago, announcing on August 30, 1996, that his cancer had returned after fifteen months of being in remission. The Cardinal died November 14, 1996.
In the final two months of his life, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin made it his mission to share his personal reflections and insights in this book, The Gift of Peace. Using as a framework the previous three years, which included false accusation of sexual misconduct, diagnosis of cancer, and return of the cancer after fifteen months of being in remission, Cardinal Bernardin tells his story openly and honestly. At the end of his life, the Cardinal was at peace. He accepted his peace as a gift from God, and through this book, he shares that gift with the world. The Gift of Peace is part of the Cardinal’s pastoral legacy; through this book his ministry lives on.
From The Gift of Peace:
“The past three years have taught me a great deal about myself and my relationship to God, the Church, and others. . . . Within these major events lies the story of my life—what I have believed and who I have worked hard to be. And because of the nature of these events, I have deepened and developed my own spirituality and gained insights that I want to share. By no means are these reflections meant to be a comprehensive autobiography. They are simply reflections from my heart to yours. I hope they will be of help to you in your own life so you too can enjoy the deep inner peace—God’s wonderful gift to me—that I now embrace as I stand on the threshold of eternal life.
Award Winner! A New York Times best seller! In the final two months of his life, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin made it his mission to share his personal reflections and insights in this book. Using as a framework the previous three years of his life, Cardinal Bernardin tells his story openly and honestly.
Relating the personal reflections on the last three years of his life, this was the mission of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin in the final months of his battle with pancreatic cancer. Bernardin tells his story openly and honestly as a man who had been given the gift of peace, peace both with himself and with his God.
A New York Times Bestseller!In the final two months of his life, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin made it his mission to share his personal reflections and insights in this book, The Gift of Peace. Using as a framework the previous three years of his life, which included a widely publicized false accusation of sexual misconduct and a re-diagnosis of cancer after 15 months of remission, Cardinal Bernardin tells his story openly and honestly. At the end of his life, the Cardinal showed us all that one of the greatest gifts we can receive is the gift of peace—a gift that comes from God alone.
About the Author
Joseph Cardinal Bernadin was born in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1928. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Charleston in 1952 and served as an Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta (1966-68), general secretary of the U.S. bishops' conference in Wash., D.C. (1968-72), Archbishop of Cincinnati (1972-82), President of the bishops' conference (1974-77), and Archbishop of Chicago (1982-96). He became a cardinal in 1983. He chaired the U.S. bishops' committee that drafted a pastoral letter on war and peace and often articulated the need for a consistent ethic of life. Cardinal Bernadin was widely respected for his gentleness, his spirituality, and his ability to reconcile. He received the Medal of Freedom at the White House two months before he died of pancreatic cancer.
Table of Contents
Personal Letter to the Reader vii
Introduction: Letting Go 1
Part One: False Accusation 13
Meditation: Emptying Oneself 15
Facing False Charges 19
Sharing the Truth with the World 24
The Case Unravels 30
Meeting My Accuser:?
Forgiveness and Reconciliation 34
Part Two: Cancer 43
Meditation: Suffering in Communion with the Lord 45
New Life 51
Diagnosis: Cancer 55
An Aside: My Father 61
Sharing the News with My “Family 63
An Aside: My Mother 68
My Cancer Ministry Begins 71
Part Three: A Priest First, a Patient Second 75
Meditation: “As Those Who Serve” 77
Heeding God’s Call: The Priesthood 85
“Unofficial Chaplain” to Cancer Patients 90
A Special Community 92
Practicing What I Preach 95
An Aside: The Importance of Prayer 96
A Priest First, and a Patient Second 100
Further Challenges 103
“A Sign of Hope”: My Pastoral Letter on Healthcare 105
Letters from Fellow Cancer Patients 111
Part Four: Befriending Death 21
Meditation: “Come to Me All You Who Are Weary and Find Life Burdensome” 123
A Visit from an Old Friend 127
The Cancer Returns 128
Dying Publicly 134
My Ministry Continues 137
Meeting with the Holy Father 139
Letting Go of the Future 140
Praying with the Presbyterate 141
Letting Go of My Ministry 142
The Cross Comes into Clear View 145
Conclusion: The Gift of Peace 149