LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – SACRED STIGMATA, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060

EASTER SUNDAY 2016
March 27

Very dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

The Stigmatines have three major community liturgical celebrations: January 23rd; the feast of the Hoy Souses, Mary and Joseph – June 12th, the Solemnity of the canonized Founder – and the Friday after Mercy Sunday, the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata [this year, it is commemorated on April 8th].

As we are soon to remember the last mentioned, the Sacred Stigmata are remembered on Good Friday, as a major cause of our Lord’s death. They are also remembered on “Mercy Sunday’, as the Gospel is on the wounds of Christ retained in His risen body, the source of the Church’s Apostolic Mission of Mercy.

Over the years, this liturgical commemoration has moved around a little in the calendar of the year, due to the number of elements the community wanted to commemorate in its celebration:

  • Before the IInd Vatican Council, the usual celebration was on the Friday before Lent – this was preceded by a Novena of prayers among the Stigmatines. This led to the comment of my old Novice Master, Fr. John B. Zaupa, our only Father General who served as Fr. General for three terms: in Rome, spring comes once the three Novenas are completed: the one for Christmas; then, the Novena for the Espousals day in January- and then the Novena in preparation for the Last Friday before Lent. This led to the old saying among the Stigmatine community “old-timers’ regarding this feast celebrated on a Friday:

In Chiesa, Grande Festa –
In refettorio, feria Sesta!

[This meant: in Church we had a great a joy-filled celebration – but in the refectory it would still be Friday!]

  • The present placing of the Feast of the Stigmata in the Easter time remembers this revelation of the Mercy of God – but a Friday was chosen, that we never forget the sorrowful side of these two aspects, both sorrowful and glorious.

As in the Eucharist, we pray with the Church each day: Say only the Word and my soul will be healed. She learned from Isaiah 53:5, that the wounds inflicted on the mysteries Suffering Servant would be instruments of our healing!

The accompanying document is an excerpt from the introduction to my study Stimmate Integre[1], in which I offer a few reflections on the feast of the Sacred Stigmata, and in general on the Stigmatine Charism.

A blessed Easter time and feast of the Sacred Stigmata to all!

Sincerely, in the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Director

 

P.S.: I take this opportunity to let you know I will be participating in a Symposium on Father Cornelio Fabro, CSS, in the Catholic University of America, in Washington D.C., on April 1st – 2nd, 2016. For further information, this is the web-address: http://www.corneliofabro.org.

 

Appendix I: “A Few Reflections on the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata”, by Rev. Joseph Henchey, CSS – 2000.

[1] The study Stimmate Integre can be found on the website: “A Tribute to St. Gaspar Bertoni”: www.st-bertoni.com, under “Life & Spirituality”.

STIGMATA LETTER – En
STIGMATA FEAST – En

Translations:

Traduzione in Italiano (da Padre Giancarlo Mittempergher, CSS):
STIMMATE LETTERA – It
STIMMATE FESTA – It

Tradução em Português (por Tereza Lopes, leiga Estigmatina):
ESTIGMAS CARTA – PtBr
ESTIGMAS FESTA – PtBr

 

LETTER TO THE STIGMATINE LAITY – EASTER, 2016

Mundelein Seminary
1000 East Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL     60060

Palm Sunday 2016
March 20

Dear Stigmatine Lay Member,

With this date, a long and cold winter is now just hours away from ending.  And, with Palm Sunday, we enter into a truly ‘Holy Week’ – the conclusion of Lent through a Liturgy of hope-filled faith that sheds much light on the mysteries in which we believe: the Eucharist and Priesthood, instituted together at the Last Supper – the sorrowful wounds on the Lord of Good Friday – and the glorious aspect of the Stigmata of Easter night. In the Cenacle room, Christ shows his wounds, retained in His glorious body, and presents these as the integral source of the Apostolic Mission: As the Father sent Me, I now send you [cf. Jn 20].

With the mystery of death, we are also encouraged to believe in the healing and saving wounds of the Risen Lord. Scripture offers a variety of wounds why we suffer: Punishment for past sins; Purification of our present state; Pedagogy, in that suffering, is the ‘School of God’ for St. Gaspar [Letter # 45, p. 109; # 157, p. 256; 2nd Letter 2 to Bragato, p. 326]; Repentance to ask the Lord’s Pardon; Eschatology, in that we do not have here a lasting home – and finally, this is a personal lesson of Christ Himself. Whatever He assumed [suffering and death] He has redeemed.

Over the centuries, some experts have taught that one of the underlying causes for Atheism is the apparent powerless-ness of God. The Stigmata, in their integral aspects, teach us that as every sin confessed is sacramentally transformed from being an obstacle to God’s grace to a co-efficient of the penitent’s holiness.

The life of St. Gaspar shows us that the path to holiness, while universal for all, is tailored for each persevering believer: in his own life, he was moved by grace to accept the atrocious suffering’s of life-long poor health and painful surgeries, enabling to be blessed in them with the mysticism and the wisdom of the Cross of Christ. As Isaiah of old spoke of a mysterious suffering Servant, whose wounds would heal us [Is 53, 5] – St. Peter saw this theme in his first Encyclical to the Church, explaining the spirituality of Baptism. St Peter states: By His wounds, you have been healed!  [1 P 2:24].

In Jesus’ Passion and Death, we are given a participation in the very nature of God:  through His precious promises we have all come to share in the divine nature [cf. 2 P 1:4]. The Cry of the Church in every Mass is: Lift up your hearts!

In the accompanying study, let us reflect on the image of the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world.

A blessed Easter to all!

Sincerely in the Healing Wounds of Christ,

Rev, Joseph Henchey, CSS
Acting Spiritual Moderator

 

Appendix I:

SOME TITLES OF JESUS CHRIST: THE LAMB

This letter, originally in English and translated into Italian and Portuguese:

EASTER LETTER, 2016

LETTERA DI PASQUA, 2016

CARTA PASCAL, 2016

 

Happy Easter!

Dear Friends of the Stigmatines,

As I write this message, it is the Feast of Saint Joseph! Our Holy Founder, Saint Gaspar Bertoni, gave us Mary and Joseph, as our Holy Patrons. May Saint Joseph guide and be with you each day!

We are entering Holy Week and the great Easter Season that extends through Pentecost. This is certainly a blessed time for us all. Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI offers us some wonderful insights into the Easter Feast and Season. In his book, Holy Days, Meditations on the Feasts, Fasts and Other Solemnities of the Church (pp. 52 & 53), he states:

“…death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end.”

This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning, but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body. Jesus is risen so that we too, believing in him, may have eternal life. The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, which has opened a new way between heaven and earth (cf. Heb. 10.20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and invincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place.

As always, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI writes so eloquently. He captures the essential Easter message of hope.

The Stigmatine Fathers are devoted to this Easter message. Our devotion to both the sorrowful and glorious Wounds of Christ invite us to bring the Easter message of peace and joy to all whom we serve. We are so happy and privileged to share the Lord’s message: “Peace be with you!”

Thank you for visiting us through this medium of communication. Please be sure of our continued prayers for you, your loved ones and all your intentions. As always, we ask you to pray for vocations to the Stigmatine Priesthood and Religious Life.

A blessed and joyous Easter Season!

The Stigmatine Fathers
Holy Spouses Province