Among legendary American Catholic churchmen -- men such as Cardinals James Gibbons of Baltimore and John J. Wright, an American in Rome -- few were instant legends in the style of Chicago's admired Joseph Bernardin. Pope John Paul II appointed him to succeed John Cardinal Cody as archbishop of Chicago. He was installed August 25, 1982. The pope announced Bernardin's elevation to cardinal on January 5, 1983. Father Spilly, editor of the two volumes, worked closely with Bernardin for several years before the cardinal's death in 1996. He has selected well and organized the material in a useful format. His task was to sift a paper mountain. Spilly writes that the Chicago archdiocesan archives include more than 450 of Bernardin's major addresses, some 1,600 homilies, more than 600 texts of shorter remarks, along with invocations and 14 years of weekly newspaper columns. Bernardin had a flair for intensifying common images to make an effective point. In urging the defense of life for the unborn and for the condemned on death row, he saw the answer as a "seamless garment." It may have been a borrowed phrase, but he enlivened it with new drama. When I started to write his first biography in 1983 Bernardin gave me boxes of sermons, speeches and declarations. Those documents multiplied in later years into a virtual library of Catholic teaching by a master teacher. I was with him when he gave some of the addresses in these handsome volumes, as when he took possession of his titular church in Rome. These volumes are not intended to detail all of Bernardin's equally impressive writings and addresses in his early years. He had much to say as general secretary of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and later as its president, and as the archbishop of Cincinnati. In an absorbing foreword to the two-volume set, Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles points to the value of Bernardin's words in discerning the presence of the living Christ. There's plenty of material here for strengthening personal spirituality and understanding Bernardin's sense of Church as Christ present in the world.