Joseph Cardinal Bernardin gave a gift to the world with his small book, The Gift of Peace. Originally published by Loyola Press in 1997, it is a work that the Cardinal produced in the last two months of his life. He tells of traumatic events in his life, which include a false accusation of sexual abuse and cancer, which would eventually take his life.
The spiritual insights this man has are profound. Meditations are interspersed with chapters in the book. I was amazed at the simplicity of his wisdom, and the confidence in Jesus. As I read his short meditation on suffering, tears continually rolled down my cheeks. The suffering I felt as I worked through the abuse was so deep and painful. He was able to put into words what I was unable to.
“As we look upon the cross and recall the specific ways by which people share in its mystery, there are many perspectives to be considered. I will highlight only one: The essential mystery of the cross is that it gives rise to a certain kind of loneliness, an inability to see clearly how things are unfolding, an inability to see that, ultimately, all things will work for our good, and that we are, indeed, not alone.”
I don’t know about you, but as I processed my abuse, I felt very alone and abandoned even by Jesus at times. Nothing made sense. It was all so difficult to describe. For me, Cardinal Bernardin conveyed it perfectly.
For those who have been abused, I think it is easy to get touchy when people speak of priests who have been falsely accused. Reading this man’s journey through that ordeal will give you an entirely new insight to it. It is also a good reminder not to be judge and jury when an allegation is made. Anyone can make an allegation.
I heartily recommend that you read this book. You will be touched spiritually and emotionally.