Gift of Peace: Personal Reflections (Cassettes)

Gift of Peace: Personal Reflections (Cassettes)

by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Kenneth Velo
A national bestseller and new spiritual classic. In these pages, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin shares the profound peace he came to at the end of his life. The Gift of Peace is part of the Cardinal's great legacy of compassion for others.


A national bestseller and new spiritual classic. In these pages, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin shares the profound peace he came to at the end of his life. The Gift of Peace is part of the Cardinal's great legacy of compassion for others.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"This book is an important part of my preparation for dying and allowing others to share in that awesome experience," wrote Chicago's Cardinal Bernadin just days before his death last November. With transparent honesty, Bernadin recounts the traumatic events and emotions of his last three years: a false accusation of sexual misconduct, the grim diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, severe back and leg pain and fatal liver tumors. Yet suffering, for Bernadin, was not punishment but opportunity. "Through suffering we empty ourselves and are filled with God's grace and love," he writes. "We can begin to think of other people and their needs." In that spirit, he began a ministry to others with terminal illnesses, and his prayer list swelled to 700 names. In this gem of a book, reminiscent of the best of Henri Nouwen, Bernadin stresses the importance of regular prayer, the need for loving human relationships and the profound peace that comes from trusting God even in the worst of times.
Library Journal
The well-loved cardinal of Chicago completed this book during the last few months of his life. In it he records the personal struggle of his final three years, during which he faced charges of sexual misconduct, later dropped as admittedly false. Eventually, Bernardin made peace with his accuser, helping the younger man reconcile with his Catholic faith before he died of AIDS. Bernardin also accepted his own imminent death from pancreatic cancer as a true lesson of the cross, writing here about his mixed sense of abandonment and hope with a profound awareness of the meaning of shared suffering and Christian love. A very moving last testament, written with simplicity and deep wisdom.
The reflections of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin during the final two months of his life before he died of cancer on November 14, 1996. Cardinal Bernardin talks openly of events that occurred during the previous three years, including the false accusation of sexual misconduct, diagnosis of cancer, and return of cancer after 15 months of being in remission. Throughout the book, he shares the peace he accepted as a gift from God. A portion of receipts will go to The Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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Read an Excerpt


False Accusation


Emptying Oneself

God speaks very gently to us when he invites us to make more room for him in our lives. The tension that arises comes not from him but from me as I struggle to find out how to offer him fuller hospitality and then to do it wholeheartedly. The Lord is clear about what he wants, but it is really difficult to let go of myself and my work and trust him completely. The first step of letting go, of course, is linked with my emptying myself of everything--the plans I consider the largest as well as the distractions I judge the smallest--so that the Lord really can take over.

St. Paul's description of Jesus' mission is never far from my thoughts: "Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate, and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting death, death on a cross" (Phil 2:6-8).

To close the gap between what I am and what God wants of me, I must empty myself and let Jesus come in and take over. I have prayed to understand his agenda for me. Some things stand out. He wants me to focus on the essentials of his message and way of life rather than on the accidentals that needlessly occupy so much of our time and efforts. One can easily distinguish essentials from peripherals in the spiritual life. Essentials ask us to give true witness and to love others more. Nonessentials close us in on ourselves.

It is unsettling to pray to be emptied of self; it seems a challenge almost beyond our reach as humans. But if we try, I have learned, God does most of the work. I must simply let myself go in love and trust of the Lord.

When the hand of God's purpose enters my life, however, it is usually not from the front, as I have always expected, but from the side, in murmurs and whispers that not only surprise but soon empty me beyond anything I could imagine.

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