Letter to the Stigmatine Laity – in preparation for our meeting on Saturday, Dec. 6th, 2014

Stigmatines – St. Joseph’s Hall
554 Lexington Street
Waltham MA 02452-3097

November 24, 2014
Vietnamese Martyrs

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

                            On the first Saturday morning of December –i.e., December 6th – we have scheduled our regular monthly meeting.  The plan for the morning will be as follows:

9:00                 Celebration of Mass

9:40                 Coffee Break

10:00              Conference [Please try to be punctual –
this time has to end at 10:40]

10:40              Discussion and end of formal meeting

11:00             The Sacrament of Reconciliation is
available for those who request it.

As last month, we did not cover much ground – so, again, this we will try to show the Old Testament Exodus Covenant Formula in response to God’s: Thy Will be done!  Jesus coined this expression, and a variation of it appears in Mary’s response to the Angel: Let it be done to me according to Your word!

In the long history of the Catholic Church, among the saints and charisms of religious communities, this formula was adapted to changing circumstances. St. Ignatius of Loyola [Spiritual Exercises, n. 234] prayed: receive, o Lord, all my liberty… (Suscipe).  St. Charles de Foucauld was inspired to offer a Prayer of Abandonment, with his invocation beginning and ending with his addressing God, the Merciful Father.

As we have seen, the Stigmatine Founder had his own interpretation and expressions of Holy Abandonment:  in what is perhaps a deMontfort inspiration of his prayer to Mary: Buon giorno, Madre mia!!!! – St. Gaspar Bertoni used  a very familiar form of address to Mary in the light of the Immaculate Conception, that would be defined on December 8, 1854, 18 months after his death [+ June12, 1853] upon which our reflections this year are based.  In the course of this year, we are pondering in prayer different expressions of St. Gaspar’s life of abandonment – suffering all his life for poor health, and initiatives that did not always succeed. In his darkest hour, when many men left him – in the 1840’s – always bed-ridden, he wrote his Constitutions for the Stigmatine way of life.

As we prepare for a New Advent, and for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we pray to her as the Spouse of Joseph, in the mystery of their Holy Espousals. With St. Gaspar, we thrust our cares on the Merciful Lord:

…  Please offer to God all I have to do and suffer today, in union with your merits, as well as those of your Blessed Son. I offer you and consecrate to your service all my being and whatever belongs to me, placing everything under your protection.

And may God bless you all! I hope to see you on Saturday, December 6th here at St. Joseph’s Hall.

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of the Merciful Lord,

 Fr. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director


            In the small St. Joseph’s Chapel of our Retirement House, in Watham, MA,  at 4:15 pm on this November 4th [“mid-term” election day in the USA], Fr. Gregory Hoppough, Provincial, was the main celebrant of a con-celebrated Mass for the community and the Lay Stigmatines, our  assistants here on the property and friends.

            Fr. Richard Scioli,. Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Milford, MA – gave an excellent Homily on the Stigmatine charism –  for the Church at large and for each Stigmatine. With the Scriptures, he compared this vocation to the small mustard seed – or the little bit of leaven which raises the batter.

            This small ‘Gift” has proven to be a rich source of service to the Church – and right now it is beckoning to each and every Stigmatine to let this charism grow continually  in our hearts.

            Members came from as  far away as Pittsfield MA – Springfield MA – and the Stigmatines from this community and two young priests from Thailand,  Fr. Peter and Fr. Dominic.

            Following the celebration of the Eucharist, all were served a delicious supper meal lovingly prepared by the staff of the house, and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

            This was a fitting celebration of the Stigmatine’s 198th anniversary as a Community, remembering in our hearts,  with much Thanksgiving for Nov. 4, 1816!


           The meeting this month occurred on the Solemnity of All saints – and, this year, was the 25th anniversary of the Canonization of St. Gaspar Bertoni.

            As usual, the meeting opened with a concelebrated Mass – with our Marist confreres who live with us here, and our Reverend Provincial, Fr. Gregory Hoppough. Fr. Hoppough had to leave after Mass to attend a Memorial service for a much loved faculty member of near-by St. Pope John 23rd Seminary, the late Fr. Thomas Schmidt.

             In the homily, the emphasis was on St. Gaspar Bertoni’s service of Holy Abandonment to the Church – honoring the Father, Son and Holy   Spirit, with the intercession of the Holy Spouses Mary and Joseph – as his living of the ˆFiatˆ in the Lord’s Prayer. The Our  Father was presented as the prayer of Hope of the Baptized committing each one to self-giving in their abandonment to the Trinity and in service to the Church.

             The Prayer of St. Ignatius [Suscipecf. Sp. Ex. # 234] which expresses the Ignatian Mode of serving the Church, in the Company of Jesus – expressing loving obedience to His Father, as the Jesuit does to the Pope. A comparison was also made with the Prayer of Holy Abandonment of Charles de Foucauld. These are inspired  interpretations of each one’s personal charism.

           For St. Gaspar Bertoni, his mode of self-giving, was modeled on that of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his loving obedience to the Pope, St. Gaspar wanted a similar spirit to serve the Church as expressed through the apostolic needs of the Bishops of the world.

             During the meeting, a letter was read from our “long-distance” members of the group,  Tereza and Vicente Lopes, natives of Brazil, but presently living and working  in Plano Texas. Their suggestion was to make  note of the Stigmatine blog which they are managing, for  news concerning the Stigmatines [http://stigmatines.com/blog/].

            Due to the small number of members  attending, the discussion ensued whether our format for meetings is acceptable – or, if there is any other way membership could be increased. The ultimate decision on the continuance of the group is s Province matter.

            The Baptismal nature of all charisms seems also to flow from the very mysterious life within the Trinity as we read in both Paul and John that God so loved the world that He gave up His only Son – and the Son shows His love  for us, by handing over His life on the Cross. St. Ignatius wanted all Jesuits to be in the company of Jesus and His loving obedience, by a special commitment to the  Pope. St. Gaspar Bertoni hoped that all interested n the Stigmatine charism might offer the holy abandonment to the most Blessed Trinity, but a true commitment to their vocation in life.

             The next meeting was set tentatively for December 6th, at the usual time, 9:00 a.m. for Mass.