Friday, February 23, 2001

Cardinal Bernardin reflections in book

By Richelle Thompson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The words of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin inspired millions, from his years as Archbishop of Cincinnati to leading 2.3 million Roman Catholics in Chicago.

        The Gift of Peace, a book published after his death, chronicled the struggles of his last three years, from a false accusation of sexual abuse to the cancer diagnosis. It became a national best seller.

        Five years after his death, Cardinal Bernardin has another book on the market. The Journey to Peace, edited by Father Al Spilly and Jeremy Langford, features unpublished spiritual reflections by the cardinal. The book (17.95 hardback, Doubleday) is available at most bookstores starting today.

        The Journey to Peace pairs excerpts of Cardinal Bernardin's homilies with Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, called the 15 stations of the cross.

        Father Spilly calls the book a prequel to The Gift of Peace. It tells “what helps you get to have that sort of peace,” he says. Father Spilly, of the order of Missionaries of the Precious Blood, served as a special assistant to the cardinal in Chicago and is director of the Cardinal Bernardin Center for Theology and Ministry and Catholic Theological Union, also in Chicago.

        Cardinal Bernardin talked often about suffering and how it can have a redemptive quality, that people can embrace and learn from it, says Father Spilly.

        “That sounds crazy in today's world where we usually try to avoid it, but (suffering) can help you grow,” he says.

        The book is aimed at anyone who has suffered, from losing a job to a failing relationship, to coping with age or dying from a disease.

        “It helps people realize they're not the only ones who have been or are experiencing suffering,” Father Spilly says. “Cardinal Bernardin is a guide in this book, but it doesn't take you to him. It takes you to the Lord.”

        Mark Utley, manager of the St. Francis Bookshop in Over-the-Rhine, expects time hasn't greatly diminished people's interest in the cardinal.

        While a normal order for a new book may be three or five hard covers, Mr. Utley ordered 20 of The Journey to Peace. The local connection to the cardinal still is strong, he says.

        “He made a really strong, positive impression on a whole lot of people,” Mr. Utley says, “and I don't think that has faded with time.”


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